A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 3, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for June 3

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

VIII. The Conditions of Peace

The holy instant is nothing more than a special case, or an extreme example, of what every situation is meant to be. The meaning that the Holy Spirit’s purpose has given it is also given to every situation. It calls forth just the same suspension of faithlessness, withheld and left unused, that faith might answer to the call of truth. The holy instant is the shining example, the clear and unequivocal demonstration of the meaning of every relationship and every situation, seen as a whole. Faith has accepted every aspect of the situation, and faithlessness has not forced any exclusion on it. It is a situation of perfect peace, simply because you have let it be what it is.

This simple courtesy is all the Holy Spirit asks of you. Let truth be what it is. Do not intrude upon it, do not attack it, do not interrupt its coming. Let it encompass every situation and bring you peace. Not even faith is asked of you, for truth asks nothing. Let it enter, and it will call forth and secure for you the faith you need for peace. But rise you not against it, for against your opposition it cannot come.

Would you not want to make a holy instant of every situation? For such is the gift of faith, freely given wherever faithlessness is laid aside, unused. And then the power of the Holy Spirit’s purpose is free to use instead. This power instantly transforms all situations into one sure and continuous means for establishing His purpose, and demonstrating its reality. What has been demonstrated has called for faith, and has been given it. Now it becomes a fact, from which faith can no longer be withheld. The strain of refusing faith to truth is enormous, and far greater than you realise. But to answer truth with faith entails no strain at all.

To you who have acknowledged the call of your Redeemer, the strain of not responding to His call seems to be greater than before. This is not so. Before, the strain was there, but you attributed it to something else, believing that the ‘something else’ produced it. This was never true. For what the ‘something else’ produced was sorrow and depression, sickness and pain, darkness and dim imaginings of terror, cold fantasies of fear and fiery dreams of hell. And it was nothing but the intolerable strain of refusing to give faith to truth, and see its evident reality.

Such was the crucifixion of the Son of God. His faithlessness did this to him. Think carefully before you let yourself use faithlessness against him. For he is risen, and you have accepted the Cause of his awakening as yours. You have assumed your part in his redemption, and you are now fully responsible to him. Fail him not now, for it has been given you to realise what your lack of faith in him must mean to you. His salvation is your only purpose. See only this in every situation, and it will be a means for bringing only this.

When you accepted truth as the goal for your relationship, you became a giver of peace as surely as your Father gave peace to you. For the goal of peace cannot be accepted apart from its conditions, and you had faith in it for no one accepts what he does not believe is real. Your purpose has not changed, and will not change, for you accepted what can never change. And nothing that it needs to be forever changeless can you now withhold from it. Your release is certain. Give as you have received. And demonstrate that you have risen far beyond any situation that could hold you back, and keep you separate from Him Whose call you answered.


***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 3

Lesson 149

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(137) When I am healed I am not healed alone.

(138) Heaven is the decision I must make.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is there a wrong or right way to practice the workbook?

A) There is only one rule that Jesus offers us about doing the workbook: “Do not undertake to do more than one set of exercises a day” (W-in.2:6). Furthermore, we are urged by him to continue with our practice even if we have trouble understanding a lesson, or experience difficulty in carrying out the specific exercise because we do not believe what it says. As he comfortingly says to his students:

Some of the ideas the workbook presents you will find hard to believe, and others may seem to be quite startling. This does not matter. You are merely asked to apply the ideas as you are directed to do. You are not asked to judge them at all. You are asked only to use them. It is their use that will give them meaning to you, and will show you that they are true.Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. But do not allow yourself to make exceptions in applying the ideas the workbook contains, and whatever your reactions to the ideas may be, use them. Nothing more than that is required (W-in.8-9).

Clearly, students are encouraged in the above passage to do the workbook as Jesus gave it, one lesson at a time, in the sequence in which the lessons come. However, there is no rule against spending more than one day on a workbook lesson. Many times lessons bring up a host of related perspectives and problems in one’s life, and therefore students find themselves ruminating and pondering over the personal implications of these lessons. Since the workbook is a highly personal experience for students, there cannot truly be a “right” or “wrong” way of practicing it. The correct answer, as always, is that the “right” way is practicing the workbook with the Holy Spirit; the “wrong” way is practicing with the ego. This puts the burden on the student to continue the journey with A Course in Miracles in as ego-free manner as possible, always maintaining a vigilance against the ego’s subtle intrusions of specialness.

certain as god

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 2, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for June 2

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

VII. The Call for Faith

The substitutes for aspects of the situation are the witnesses to your lack of faith. They demonstrate that you did not believe the situation and the problem were in the same place. The problem was the lack of faith, and it is this you demonstrate when you remove it from its source and place it elsewhere. As a result, you do not see the problem. Had you not lacked faith that it could be solved, the problem would be gone. And the situation would have been meaningful to you, because the interference in the way of understanding would have been removed. To remove the problem elsewhere is to keep it, for you remove yourself from it and make it unsolvable.

There is no problem in any situation that faith will not solve. There is no shift in any aspect of the problem but will make solution impossible. For if you shift part of the problem elsewhere the meaning of the problem must be lost, and the solution to the problem is inherent in its meaning. Is it not possible that all your problems have been solved, but you have removed yourself from the solution? Yet faith must be where something has been done, and where you see it done.

A situation is a relationship, being the joining of thoughts. If problems are perceived, it is because the thoughts are judged to be in conflict. But if the goal is truth, this is impossible. Some idea of bodies must have entered, for minds cannot attack. The thought of bodies is the sign of faithlessness, for bodies cannot solve anything. It is their intrusion on the relationship, an error in your thoughts about the situation, which then becomes the justification for your lack of faith. You will make this error, but be not at all concerned with that. The error does not matter. Faithlessness brought to faith will never interfere with truth. But faithlessness used against truth will always destroy faith. If you lack faith, ask that it be restored where it was lost, and seek not to have it made up to you elsewhere, as if you had been unjustly deprived of it.

Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation. But remember this; the goal of holiness was set for your relationship, and not by you. You did not set it because holiness cannot be seen except through faith, and your relationship was not holy because your faith in your brother was so limited and little. Your faith must grow to meet the goal that has been set. The goal’s reality will call this forth, for you will see that peace and faith will not come separately. What situation can you be in without faith, and remain faithful to your brother?

Every situation in which you find yourself is but a means to meet the purpose set for your relationship. See it as something else and you are faithless. Use not your faithlessness. Let it enter and look upon it calmly, but do not use it. Faithlessness is the servant of illusion, and wholly faithful to its master. Use it, and it will carry you straight to illusions. Be tempted not by what it offers you. It interferes, not with the goal, but with the value of the goal to you. Accept not the illusion of peace it offers, but look upon its offering and recognise it is illusion.

The goal of illusion is as closely tied to faithlessness as faith to truth. If you lack faith in anyone to fulfil, and perfectly, his part in any situation dedicated in advance to truth, your dedication is divided. And so you have been faithless to your brother, and used your faithlessness against him. No relationship is holy unless its holiness goes with it everywhere. As holiness and faith go hand in hand, so must its faith go everywhere with it. The goal’s reality will call forth and accomplish every miracle needed for its fulfilment. Nothing too small or too enormous, too weak or too compelling, but will be gently turned to its use and purpose. The universe will serve it gladly, as it serves the universe. But do not interfere.

The power set in you in whom the Holy Spirit’s goal has been established is so far beyond your little conception of the infinite that you have no idea how great the strength that goes with you. And you can use this in perfect safety. Yet for all its might, so great it reaches past the stars and to the universe that lies beyond them, your little faithlessness can make it useless, if you would use the faithlessness instead.

Yet think on this, and learn the cause of faithlessness: You think you hold against your brother what he has done to you. But what you really blame him for is what you did to him. It is not his past but yours you hold against him. And you lack faith in him because of what you were. Yet you are as innocent of what you were as he is. What never was is causeless, and is not there to interfere with truth. There is no cause for faithlessness, but there is Cause for faith. That Cause has entered any situation that shares Its purpose. The light of truth shines from the centre of the situation, and touches everyone to whom the situation’s purpose calls. It calls to everyone. There is no situation that does not involve your whole relationship, in every aspect and complete in every part. You can leave nothing of yourself outside it and keep the situation holy. For it shares the purpose of your whole relationship, and derives its meaning from it.

Enter each situation with the faith you give your brother, or you are faithless to your own relationship. Your faith will call the others to share your purpose, as the same purpose called forth the faith in you. And you will see the means you once employed to lead you to illusions transformed to means for truth. Truth calls for faith, and faith makes room for truth. When the Holy Spirit changed the purpose of your relationship by exchanging yours for His, the goal He placed there was extended to every situation in which you enter, or will ever enter. And every situation was thus made free of the past, which would have made it purposeless.

You call for faith because of Him Who walks with you in every situation. You are no longer wholly insane, nor no longer alone. For loneliness in God must be a dream. You whose relationship shares the Holy Spirit’s goal are set apart from loneliness because the truth has come. Its call for faith is strong. Use not your faithlessness against it, for it calls you to salvation and to peace.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 2

Lesson 148

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(135) If I defend myself I am attacked.

(136) Sickness is a defense against the truth.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Can A Course in Miracles be completed in one year, as the workbook seems to suggest?

A) This question rests on the premise that only the one-year training program of the workbook for students comprises the total mind-training (or mind-retraining) that is the principal goal of A Course in Miracles. Not so. The workbook is only one aspect of a curriculum that consists of three parts: the text, which contains the theory and theology of  the Course; the workbook for students, the one-year series of lessons that help the student begin the mind-training program of the Course; and the manual for teachers, which serves as a summary of many of the Course’s teachings, as well as helping to define what Jesus means by a teacher of God.

Any serious student of A Course in Miracles recognizes that the total curriculum cannot in any way be completed in one year. Rather, it is a lifetime’s work, and the workbook, which, again, is a specific one-year training program, is the means which would ensure that students proceed in the correct manner. Once they are in touch with their right minds and understand the process of forgiveness that the Course sets forth, students are then able to spend the rest of their lives in daily practice with Jesus or the Holy Spirit as their Teachers. As the workbook states at the end:

This course is a beginning, not an end. Your Friend goes with you (W-ep.1:1-2).

forgiveness is still

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 1, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for June 1

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

VI. Setting the Goal

The practical application of the Holy Spirit’s purpose is extremely simple, but it is unequivocal. In fact, in order to be simple it mustbe unequivocal. The simple is merely what is easily understood, and for this it is apparent that it must be clear. The setting of the Holy Spirit’s goal is general. Now He will work with you to make it specific, for application is specific. There are certain very specific guidelines He provides for any situation, but remember that you do not yet realise their universal application. Therefore, it is essential at this point to use them in each situation separately, until you can more safely look beyond each situation, in an understanding far broader than you now possess.

In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is ‘What do I want to come of this? What is it for?‘ The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome. In the ego’s procedure this is reversed. The situation becomes the determiner of the outcome, which can be anything. The reason for this disorganised approach is evident. The ego does not know what it wants to come of the situation. It is aware of what it does not want, but only that. It has no positive goal at all.

Without a clear-cut, positive goal, set at the outset, the situation just seems to happen, and makes no sense until it has already happened. Then you look back at it, and try to piece together what it must have meant. And you will be wrong. Not only is your judgement in the past, but you have no idea what should happen. No goal was set with which to bring the means in line. And now the only judgement left to make is whether or not the ego likes it; is it acceptable, or does it call for vengeance? The absence of a criterion for outcome, set in advance, makes understanding doubtful and evaluation impossible.

The value of deciding in advance what you want to happen is simply that you will perceive the situation as a means to make it happen. You will therefore make every effort to overlook what interferes with the accomplishment of your objective, and concentrate on everything that helps you meet it. It is quite noticeable that this approach has brought you closer to the Holy Spirit’s sorting out of truth and falsity. The true becomes what can be used to meet the goal. The false becomes the useless from this point of view. The situation now has meaning, but only because the goal has made it meaningful.

The goal of truth has further practical advantages. If the situation is used for truth and sanity, its outcome must be peace. And this is quite apart from what the outcome is. If peace is the condition of truth and sanity, and cannot be without them, where peace is they must be. Truth comes of itself. If you experience peace, it is because the truth has come to you and you will see the outcome truly, for deception cannot prevail against you. You will recognise the outcome because you are at peace. Here again you see the opposite of the ego’s way of looking, for the ego believes the situation brings the experience. The Holy Spirit knows that the situation is as the goal determines it, and is experienced according to the goal.

The goal of truth requires faith. Faith is implicit in the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and this faith is all-inclusive. Where the goal of truth is set, there faith must be. The Holy Spirit sees the situation as a whole. The goal establishes the fact that everyone involved in it will play his part in its accomplishment. This is inevitable. No one will fail in anything. This seems to ask for faith beyond you, and beyond what you can give. Yet this is so only from the viewpoint of the ego, for the ego believes in ‘solving’ conflict through fragmentation, and does not perceive the situation as a whole. Therefore, it seeks to split off segments of the situation and deal with them separately, for it has faith in separation and not in wholeness.

Confronted with any aspect of the situation that seems to be difficult, the ego will attempt to take this aspect elsewhere, and resolve it there. And it will seem to be successful, except that this attempt conflicts with unity, and must obscure the goal of truth. And peace will not be experienced except in fantasy. Truth has not come because faith has been denied, being withheld from where it rightfully belonged. Thus do you lose the understanding of the situation the goal of truth would bring. For fantasy solutions bring but the illusion of experience, and the illusion of peace is not the condition in which truth can enter.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 1

Lesson 147

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(133) I will not value what is valueless.

(134) Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Does the concept of the circle of Atonement relate to the “hundredth monkey’ idea? And should “teachers of God” go out to teach A Course in Miracles or proselytize others?

The answer to the first question is “no”; they represent two entirely different thought systems. The “hundredth monkey” concept is based upon questionable research that concluded that there is a quantitative point that is reached in a species — like a certain weight that, once it is reached on a balancing scale, tips that portion of the scale and then that allows the remaining members of that species to acquire what the rest have already learned. A Course in Miracles‘ idea of “the circle of Atonement” is not a quantitative concept, and has nothing to do with accumulating numbers of students of the Course, which once this “critical mass” is reached, will save the world. We read in the manual for teachers, for example, that only one teacher of God is needed to save the world. This is because there is only one teacher — our Self. When the Atonement has been accepted by an individual, that person now remembers that there is only one Son, and therefore the dream of separation, differences, and multiplicity was simply unreal. To believe that a certain requisite number of students is needed to save the entire world clearly makes the concept of numbers real, not to mention establishing the reality of a species or world that has to be saved as well.

If this non-quantitative aspect of A Course in Miracles is not understood, then students of Jesus’ Course would be tempted to believe that they must proselytize or otherwise preach the “new gospel according to the real Jesus” in order to acquire as many students of the Course as possible so that the world would be saved.  As has already happened, students will band together and think of themselves as a movement, network, religion, church, or some such special category. They will revel in the thought that a copy of A Course in Miracles was sent to the Vatican, or the White House, or put in any other worldly symbol of power. They will feel drawn to criticize, judge, or attack other spiritual paths, for these must then inevitably be seen as competitors for achieving that critical mass of people necessary to shift the balance for the salvation of the world.

All this is easily avoided by focusing only on what A Course in Miracles actually teaches, and directing one’s attention only on one’s own forgiveness lessons and the eventual acceptance of the Atonement for oneself. There is no one else to be “saved,” and accepting this thus is our only responsibility.

tiny mad idea

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 30, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for May 30

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

IV. The Two Pictures

God established His relationship with you to make you happy, and nothing you do that does not share His purpose can be real. The purpose God ascribed to anything is its only function. Because of His reason for creating His relationship with you, the function of relationships became forever ‘to make happy’. And nothing else. To fulfil this function you relate to your creations as God to His. For nothing God created is apart from happiness, and nothing God created but would extend happiness as its Creator did. Whatever does not fulfil this function cannot be real.

In this world it is impossible to create. Yet it is possible to make happy. I have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them. And all that is meant by that is that He will restore to them the function given them by God. The function you have given them is clearly not to make happy. But the holy relationship shares God’s purpose, rather than aiming to make a substitute for it. Every special relationship you have made is a substitute for God’s Will, and glorifies yours instead of His because of the illusion that they are different.

You have made very real relationships even in this world. Yet you do not recognise them because you have raised their substitutes to such predominance that, when truth calls to you, as it does constantly, you answer with a substitute. Every special relationship you have made has, as its fundamental purpose, the aim of occupying your mind so completely that you will not hear the call of truth.

In a sense, the special relationship was the ego’s answer to the creation of the Holy Spirit, who was God’s Answer to the separation. For although the ego did not understand what had been created, it was aware of threat. The whole defence system the ego evolved to protect the separation from the Holy Spirit was in response to the gift with which God blessed it, and by His blessing enabled it to be healed. This blessing holds within itself the truth about everything. And the truth is that the Holy Spirit is in close relationship with you, because in Him is your relationship with God restored to you. The relationship with Him has never been broken, because the Holy Spirit has not been separate from anyone since the separation. And through Him have all your holy relationships been carefully preserved, to serve God’s purpose for you.

The ego is always alert to threat, and the part of your mind into which the ego was accepted is very anxious to preserve its reason, as it sees it. It does not realise that it is totally insane. And you must realise just what this means if you would be restored to sanity. The insane protect their thought systems, but they do so insanely. And all their defences are as insane as what they are supposed to protect. The separation has nothing in it, no part, no ‘reason’, and no attribute that is not insane. And its ‘protection’ is part of it, as insane as the whole. The special relationship, which is its chief defence, must therefore be insane.

You have but little difficulty now in realising that the thought system the special relationship protects is but a system of delusions. You recognise, at least in general terms, that the ego is insane. Yet the special relationship still seems to you somehow to be ‘different’. Yet we have looked at it far closer than we have at many other aspects of the ego’s thought system that you have been more willing to let go. While this one remains, you will not let the others go. For this one is not different. Retain this one, and you have retained the whole.

It is essential to realise that all defences do what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend. What they defend is placed in them for safe-keeping, and as they operate they bring it to you. Every defence operates by giving gifts, and the gift is always a miniature of the thought system the defence protects, set in a golden frame. The frame is very elaborate, all set with jewels, and deeply carved and polished. Its purpose is to be of value in itself, and to divert your attention from what it encloses. But the frame without the picture you cannot have. Defences operate to make you think you can.

The special relationship has the most imposing and deceptive frame of all the defences the ego uses. Its thought system is offered here, surrounded by a frame so heavy and so elaborate that the picture is almost obliterated by its imposing structure. Into the frame are woven all sorts of fanciful and fragmented illusions of love, set with dreams of sacrifice and self-aggrandisement, and interlaced with gilded threads of self-destruction. The glitter of blood shines like rubies, and the tears are faceted like diamonds and gleam in the dim light in which the offering is made.

Look at the picture. Do not let the frame distract you. This gift is given you for your damnation, and if you take it you will believe that you are damned. You cannot have the frame without the picture. What you value is the frame, for there you see no conflict. Yet the frame is only the wrapping for the gift of conflict. The frame is not the gift. Be not deceived by the most superficial aspects of this thought system, for these aspects enclose the whole, complete in every aspect. Death lies in this glittering gift. Let not your gaze dwell on the hypnotic gleaming of the frame. Look at the picture, and realise that death is offered you.

That is why the holy instant is so important in the defence of truth. The truth itself needs no defence, but you do need defence against your acceptance of the gift of death. When you who are truth accept an idea so dangerous to truth, you threaten truth with destruction. And your defence must now be undertaken, to keep truth whole. The power of Heaven, the Love of God, the tears of Christ, and the joy of His eternal Spirit are marshalled to defend you from your own attack. For you attack Them, being part of Them, and They must save you, for They love Themselves.

The holy instant is a miniature of Heaven, sent you from Heaven. It is a picture, too, set in a frame. Yet if you accept this gift you will not see the frame at all, because the gift can only be accepted through your willingness to focus all your attention on the picture. The holy instant is a miniature of eternity. It is a picture of timelessness, set in a frame of time. If you focus on the picture, you will realise that it was only the frame that made you think it was a picture. Without the frame, the picture is seen as what it represents. For as the whole thought system of the ego lies in its gifts, so the whole of Heaven lies in this instant, borrowed from eternity and set in time for you.

Two gifts are offered you. Each is complete, and cannot be partially accepted. Each is a picture of all that you can have, seen very differently. You cannot compare their value by comparing a picture to a frame. It must be the pictures only that you compare, or the comparison is wholly without meaning. Remember that it is the picture that is the gift. And only on this basis are you really free to choose. Look at the pictures. Both of them. One is a tiny picture, hard to see at all beneath the heavy shadows of its enormous and disproportionate enclosure. The other is lightly framed and hung in light, lovely to look upon for what it is.

You who have tried so hard, and are still trying, to fit the better picture into the wrong frame and so combine what cannot be combined, accept this and be glad: These pictures are each framed perfectly, for what they represent. One is framed to be out of focus and not seen. The other is framed for perfect clarity. The picture of darkness and of death grows less convincing as you search it out amid its wrappings. As each senseless stone that seems to shine from the frame in darkness is exposed to light, it becomes dull and lifeless, and ceases to distract you from the picture. And finally you look upon the picture itself, seeing at last that, unprotected by the frame, it has no meaning.

The other picture is lightly framed, for time cannot contain eternity. There is no distraction here. The picture of Heaven and eternity grows more convincing as you look at it. And now, by real comparison, a transformation of both pictures can at last occur. And each is given its rightful place when both are seen in relation to each other. The dark picture, brought to light, is not perceived as fearful, but the fact that it is just a picture is brought home at last. And what you see there you will recognise as what it is; a picture of what you thought was real, and nothing more. For beyond this picture you will see nothing.

The picture of light, in clear-cut and unmistakable contrast, is transformed into what lies beyond the picture. As you look on this, you realise that it is not a picture, but a reality. This is no figured representation of a thought system, but the Thought itself. What it represents is there. The frame fades gently and God rises to your remembrance, offering you the whole of creation in exchange for your little picture, wholly without value and entirely deprived of meaning.

As God ascends into His rightful place and you to yours, you will experience again the meaning of relationship and know it to be true. Let us ascend in peace together to the Father, by giving Him ascendance in our minds. We will gain everything by giving Him the power and the glory, and keeping no illusions of where they are. They are in us, through His ascendance. What He has given is His. It shines in every part of Him, as in the whole. The whole reality of your relationship with Him lies in our relationship to one another. The holy instant shines alike on all relationships, for in it they are one. For here is only healing, already complete and perfect. For here is God, and where He is only the perfect and complete can be.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 30

Lesson 145

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(129) Beyond this world there is a world I want.

(130) It is impossible to see two worlds.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Who gave the title A Course in Miracles, and why?

A) The title was given by Jesus. The scribing to Helen began with the words: “This is a course in miracles,” and throughout the dictation this is how Jesus referred to the material. While the initial shock value of the title may attract us, and can therefore be possibly used as a justification for its use, the real reason for the title rests on the fact that the entire Course is focused on helping the student learn and understand what the miracle is, and how to apply it in one’s personal life. Jesus’ focus in his curriculum is on correction, specifically on how the Holy Spirit reminds us that we have a mind and that this mind is extremely powerful. It was the mind that made the problem of separation, and only it, joined with the Holy Spirit, can accept correction.

Near the beginning of the text, in fact, Jesus emphasized this point to Helen (and to all future students) in stating that the purpose of his course was to have her recognize the “power of your own thinking” (T-2.VII.1:5). It is the miracle that specifically accomplishes this, by recalling to students of A Course in Miracles that it is their minds that have made up their problems (not to mention the entire physical universe), and therefore, again, it is only their minds that can change this. The miracle thus reminds us that we are the dreamers of our dreams, and that by joining with Jesus or the Holy Spirit we can accept a change from the pain that dreams have brought. As Jesus states later in the text:

The miracle does not awaken you, but merely shows you who the dreamer is.  It teaches you there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep…. The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true….

The miracle returns the cause of fear to you [the mind] who made it (T-28.II.4:2-3; 7:1; 11:1)

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 29, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for May 29

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

III. Shadows of the Past

To forgive is merely to remember only the loving thoughts you gave in the past, and those that were given you. All the rest must be forgotten. Forgiveness is a selective remembering, based not on your selection. For the shadow figures you would make immortal are ‘enemies’ of reality. Be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do. The shadow figures are the witnesses you bring with you to demonstrate he did what he did not. Because you bring them, you will hear them. And you who keep them by your own selection do not understand how they came into your mind, and what their purpose is. They represent the evil that you think was done to you. You bring them with you only that you may return evil for evil, hoping that their witness will enable you to think guiltily of another and not harm yourself. They speak so clearly for the separation that no one not obsessed with keeping separation could hear them. They offer you the ‘reasons’ why you should enter into unholy alliances to support the ego’s goals, and make your relationships the witness to its power.

It is these shadow figures that would make the ego holy in your sight, and teach you what you do to keep it safe is really love. The shadow figures always speak for vengeance, and all relationships into which they enter are totally insane. Without exception, these relationships have as their purpose the exclusion of the truth about the other, and of yourself. This is why you see in both what is not there, and make of both the slaves of vengeance. And why whatever reminds you of your past grievances attracts you, and seems to go by the name of love, no matter how distorted the associations by which you arrive at the connection may be. And finally, why all such relationships become attempts at union through the body, for only bodies can be seen as means for vengeance. That bodies are central to all unholy relationships is evident. Your own experience has taught you this. But what you may not realise are all the reasons that go to make the relationship unholy. For unholiness seeks to reinforce itself, as holiness does, by gathering to itself what it perceives as like itself.

In the unholy relationship, it is not the body of the other with which union is attempted, but the bodies of those who are not there. For even the body of the other, already a severely limited perception of him, is not the central focus as it is, or in entirety. What can be used for fantasies of vengeance, and what can be most readily associated with those on whom vengeance is really sought, is centred on and separated off as being the only parts of value. Every step taken in the making, the maintaining and the breaking off of the unholy relationship is a move toward further fragmentation and unreality. The shadow figures enter more and more, and the one in whom they seem to be decreases in importance.

Time is indeed unkind to the unholy relationship. For time is cruel in the ego’s hands, as it is kind when used for gentleness. The attraction of the unholy relationship begins to fade and to be questioned almost at once. Once it is formed, doubt must enter in, because its purpose is impossible. The ‘ideal’ of the unholy relationship thus becomes one in which the reality of the other does not enter at all to ‘spoil’ the dream. And the less the other really brings to the relationship, the ‘better’ it becomes. Thus, the attempt at union becomes a way of excluding even the one with whom the union was sought. For it was formed to get him out of it, and join with fantasies in uninterrupted ‘bliss’.

How can the Holy Spirit bring His interpretation of the body as a means of communication into relationships whose only purpose is separation from reality? What forgiveness is enables Him to do so. If all but loving thoughts has been forgotten, what remains is eternal. And the transformed past is made like the present. No longer does the past conflict with now. This continuity extends the present by increasing its reality and its value in your perception of it. In these loving thoughts is the spark of beauty hidden in the ugliness of the unholy relationship where hatred is remembered; yet there to come alive as the relationship is given to Him Who gives it life and beauty. That is why Atonement centres on the past, which is the source of separation, and where it must be undone. For separation must be corrected where it was made.

The ego seeks to ‘resolve’ its problems, not at their source, but where they were not made. And thus it seeks to guarantee there will be no solution. The Holy Spirit wants only to make His resolutions complete and perfect, and so He seeks and finds the source of problems where it is, and there undoes it. And with each step in His undoing is the separation more and more undone, and union brought closer. He is not at all confused by any ‘reasons’ for separation. All He perceives in separation is that it must be undone. Let Him uncover the hidden spark of beauty in your relationships, and show it to you. Its loveliness will so attract you that you will be unwilling ever to lose the sight of it again. And you will let this spark transform the relationship so you can see it more and more. For you will want it more and more, and become increasingly unwilling to let it be hidden from you. And you will learn to seek for and establish the conditions in which this beauty can be seen.

All this you will do gladly, if you but let Him hold the spark before you, to light your way and make it clear to you. God’s Son is one. Whom God has joined as one, the ego cannot put asunder. The spark of holiness must be safe, however hidden it may be, in every relationship. For the Creator of the one relationship has left no part of it without Himself. This is the only part of the relationship the Holy Spirit sees, because He knows that only this is true. You have made the relationship unreal, and therefore unholy, by seeing it where it is not and as it is not. Give the past to Him Who can change your mind about it for you. But first, be sure you fully realise what you have made the past to represent, and why.

The past becomes the justification for entering into a continuing, unholy alliance with the ego against the present. For the present isforgiveness. Therefore, the relationships the unholy alliance dictates are not perceived nor felt as now. Yet the frame of reference to which the present is referred for meaning is an illusion of the past, in which those elements that fit the purpose of the unholy alliance are retained, and all the rest let go. And what is thus let go is all the truth the past could ever offer to the present as witnesses for its reality. What is kept but witnesses to the reality of dreams.

It is still up to you to choose to join with truth or with illusion. But remember that to choose one is to let the other go. Which one you choose you will endow with beauty and reality, because the choice depends on which you value more. The spark of beauty or the veil of ugliness, the real world or the world of guilt and fear, truth or illusion, freedom or slavery —it is all the same. For you can never choose except between God and the ego. Thought systems are but true or false, and all their attributes come simply from what they are. Only the Thoughts of God are true. And all that follows from them comes from what they are, and is as true as is the holy Source from Which they came.

My holy brother, I would enter into all your relationships, and step between you and your fantasies. Let my relationship to you be real to you, and let me bring reality to your perception of your brothers. They were not created to enable you to hurt yourself through them. They were created to create with you. This is the truth that I would interpose between you and your goal of madness. Be not separate from me, and let not the holy purpose of Atonement be lost to you in dreams of vengeance. Relationships in which such dreams are cherished have excluded me. Let me enter in the Name of God and bring you peace, that you may offer peace to me.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 29

Lesson 144

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(127) There is no love but God’s.

(128) The world I see holds nothing that I want.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If I practice A Course in Miracles faithfully, will I disappear?

A) This is a very commonly expressed concern of Course students, and reflects the same confusion of levels that we have commented on earlier. Level One, which is our term for the Course’s metaphysical foundation, is uncompromising in seeing no reconciliation between truth and illusion, eternity and time. On this level, it takes no time to return to the formlessness of Heaven because we have never left it. To recall this important and previously quoted line: “You are at home in God, dreaming of exile.” Our “journey without a distance” (T-8.VI.9:7) requires no time to complete. On Level Two, however, which reflects our temporal experience within the dream, our journey home takes as long as we require. In fact, early in the text, Jesus observes that the collective end of the dream will occur over “millions” of years (T-2.VIII.2:5), certainly suggesting that he is aware of the need to undo the Son’s fear slowly and gently. Indeed, as we have already seen, many, many passages in A Course in Miracles reflect this awareness. Therefore, students should take comfort in a line like the following, which indicates that their fears of disappearing “into the Heart of God” are groundless:

Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality (T-16.VI.8:1).

The process of growth that is fostered by A Course in Miracles is always a gradual one, under the gentle and patient guidance of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Using his own words, we can speak of a “slowly evolving training program,” which is a “fairly slow process” (M-9.1:7; 2:4). Students of A Course in Miracles should beware of those who counsel them to “speed-up” this process of forgiveness. While on the larger level the spirituality of A Course in Miracles does save time, as Jesus repeatedly emphasizes, there is a quite different emphasis on the level of individual experience. There, students must proceed slowly and gently, otherwise, as indicated above, they will precipitate a panic attack. This same concern on Jesus’ part is expressed at the very end of Chapter I in the text where he urges his students to prepare themselves for the later parts of their journey, so that they will not become “too fearful” and their experiences “traumatic.”

And so, students of A Course in Miracles need not be afraid of losing their identity or individuality. As they progress in their study and practice of the Course, what they will lose will be their guilt, anxiety, depression, fear, etc., and what they will discover will be learning to “smile more frequently” (W-pI.155.1:2). The “last step,” which belongs to God whereby He reaches down and “lifts us to Himself,” does not occur until we have completed all the “little steps He asks [us to] take to Him” (W-pI.193.13:7).

In conclusion, therefore, “instant enlightenment” is not something A Course in Miracles teaches, just as the “holy relationship” and the “real world” are not achieved in one year. The spirituality of the Course is beyond the platitudes and postures that the ego mind conjures up. There is nothing in A Course in Miracles that would reinforce such misguided endeavors as instant enlightenment, achieved through being in the presence of a realized individual, instantaneous acquisitions of holy relationships, or even entering into the real world. Followers of such magical hopes will ultimately find that their efforts have come to naught, for they but reinforce more hallucinatory experiences of salvation. Indeed, it requires serious study over long years of hard work and practice to achieve the ultimate holy instant, which is the attainment of the real world.

total commitment

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 25

ACIM Text Reading for June 25

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

VIII. The Conditions of Peace

The holy instant is nothing more than a special case, or an extreme example, of what every situation is meant to be. The meaning that the Holy Spirit’s purpose has given it is also given to every situation. It calls forth just the same suspension of faithlessness, withheld and left unused, that faith might answer to the call of truth. The holy instant is the shining example, the clear and unequivocal demonstration of the meaning of every relationship and every situation, seen as a whole. Faith has accepted every aspect of the situation, and faithlessness has not forced any exclusion on it. It is a situation of perfect peace, simply because you have let it be what it is.

This simple courtesy is all the Holy Spirit asks of you. Let truth be what it is. Do not intrude upon it, do not attack it, do not interrupt its coming. Let it encompass every situation and bring you peace. Not even faith is asked of you, for truth asks nothing. Let it enter, and it will call forth and secure for you the faith you need for peace. But rise you not against it, for against your opposition it cannot come.

Would you not want to make a holy instant of every situation? For such is the gift of faith, freely given wherever faithlessness is laid aside, unused. And then the power of the Holy Spirit’s purpose is free to use instead. This power instantly transforms all situations into one sure and continuous means for establishing His purpose, and demonstrating its reality. What has been demonstrated has called for faith, and has been given it. Now it becomes a fact, from which faith can no longer be withheld. The strain of refusing faith to truth is enormous, and far greater than you realise. But to answer truth with faith entails no strain at all.

To you who have acknowledged the call of your Redeemer, the strain of not responding to His call seems to be greater than before. This is not so. Before, the strain was there, but you attributed it to something else, believing that the ‘something else’ produced it. This was never true. For what the ‘something else’ produced was sorrow and depression, sickness and pain, darkness and dim imaginings of terror, cold fantasies of fear and fiery dreams of hell. And it was nothing but the intolerable strain of refusing to give faith to truth, and see its evident reality.

Such was the crucifixion of the Son of God. His faithlessness did this to him. Think carefully before you let yourself use faithlessness against him. For he is risen, and you have accepted the Cause of his awakening as yours. You have assumed your part in his redemption, and you are now fully responsible to him. Fail him not now, for it has been given you to realise what your lack of faith in him must mean to you. His salvation is your only purpose. See only this in every situation, and it will be a means for bringing only this.

When you accepted truth as the goal for your relationship, you became a giver of peace as surely as your Father gave peace to you. For the goal of peace cannot be accepted apart from its conditions, and you had faith in it for no one accepts what he does not believe is real. Your purpose has not changed, and will not change, for you accepted what can never change. And nothing that it needs to be forever changeless can you now withhold from it. Your release is certain. Give as you have received. And demonstrate that you have risen far beyond any situation that could hold you back, and keep you separate from Him Whose call you answered.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 25

Lesson 158

Today I learn to give as I receive.

What has been given you? The knowledge that you are a mind, in Mind and purely mind, sinless forever, wholly unafraid, because you were created out of love. Nor have you left your Source, remaining as you were created. This was given you as knowledge which you cannot lose. It was given as well to every living thing, for by that knowledge only does it live.

You have received all this. No one who walks the world but has received it. It is not this knowledge which you give, for that is what creation gave. All this cannot be learned. What, then, are you to learn to give today? Our lesson yesterday evoked a theme found early in the text. Experience cannot be shared directly, in the way that vision can. The revelation that the Father and the Son are one will come in time to every mind. Yet is that time determined by the mind itself, not taught.

The time is set already. It appears to be quite arbitrary. Yet there is no step along the road that anyone takes but by chance. It has already been taken by him, although he has not yet embarked on it. For time but seems to go in one direction. We but undertake a journey that is over. Yet it seems to have a future still unknown to us.

Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion in which figures come and go as if by magic. Yet there is a plan behind appearances that does not change. The script is written. When experience will come to end your doubting has been set. For 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.

A teacher does not give experience, because he did not learn it. It revealed itself to him at its appointed time. But vision is his gift. This he can give directly, for Christ’s knowledge is not lost, because He has a vision He can give to anyone who asks. The Father’s Will and His are joined in knowledge. Yet there is a vision which the Holy Spirit sees because the Mind of Christ beholds it too.

Here is the joining of the world of doubt and shadows made with the intangible. Here is a quiet place within the world made holy by forgiveness and by love. Here are all contradictions reconciled, for here the journey ends. Experience–unlearned, untaught, unseen–is merely there. This is beyond our goal, for it transcends what needs to be accomplished. Our concern is with Christ’s vision. This we can attain.

Christ’s vision has one law. It does not look upon a body, and mistake it for the Son whom God created. It beholds a light beyond the body; an idea beyond what can be touched, a purity undimmed by errors, pitiful mistakes, and fearful thoughts of guilt from dreams of sin. It sees no separation. And it looks on everyone, on every circumstance, all happenings and all events, without the slightest fading of the light it sees.

This can be taught; and must be taught by all who would achieve it. It requires but the recognition that the world can not give anything that faintly can compare with this in value; nor set up a goal that does not merely disappear when this has been perceived. And this you give today: See no one as a body. Greet him as the Son of God he is, acknowledging that he is one with you in holiness.

Thus are his sins forgiven him, for Christ has vision that has power to overlook them all. In His forgiveness are they gone. Unseen by One they merely disappear, because a vision of the holiness that lies beyond them comes to take their place. It matters not what form they took, nor how enormous they appeared to be, nor who seemed to be hurt by them. They are no more. And all effects they seemed to have are gone with them, undone and never to be done.

Thus do you learn to give as you receive. And thus Christ’s vision looks on you as well. This lesson is not difficult to learn, if you remember in your brother you but see yourself. If he be lost in sin, so must you be; if you see light in him, your sins have been forgiven by yourself. Each brother whom you meet today provides another chance to let Christ’s vision shine on you, and offer you the peace of God.

It matters not when revelation comes, for that is not of time. Yet time has still one gift to give, in which true knowledge is reflected in a way so accurate its image shares its unseen holiness; its likeness shines with its immortal love. We practice seeing with the eyes of Christ today. And by the holy gifts we give, Christ’s vision looks upon ourselves as well.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #834: The idea presented in A Course in Miracles that “Only what you have not been giving can be lacking in any situation” (T.17.VII.4:1) is something that I am very resistant to. I feel that I am not getting the proper respect I deserve from certain people. Is the Course saying that at some level I am not giving them proper respect? I feel that I am! I feel that I have been overly respectful in content and form and some people are still disrespectful back. Can you explain the meaning of this phrase?

A: The passage you quote is understood in the light of one of the Course’s fundamental principles of salvation: “…giving and receiving are the same”(T.26.I.3:6). This rests on the fact that all minds are joined (T15.XI.7:1), and therefore everyone is included in the individual mind’s choice to receive, and thereby give, the ego’s message or the Holy Spirit’s. These are the only two thoughts the mind can choose between. Only one of them can be held/received at one time, and only what the mind holds can be given. Allied with the ego and driven by the emptiness it fosters, we will not give or receive true respect in any relationship, because the love that the Holy Spirit brings will be lacking, no matter how seemingly respectful the behavior may appear to be.

Choosing to listen to the ego’s tale of separation means denying one’s true Identity, and is an attack on the Sonship. The result is a profound feeling of lack. Special relationships with people and things are then sought to fill the void left by separation. A multitude of specialness needs are brought to these relationships: e.g., the need for respect, acceptance, recognition. Relating to others in order to have individual needs met is truly a lack of respect, even when the behavior is courteous and seemingly “respectful,” because its origin is the attack thought in the mind. The respect that is not being given is thus lacking, as the line you quote indicates.

The mind receives the respect it deserves when it chooses the Holy Spirit. In the moment that His Love is received it is given to the entire Sonship, just as the separation attack included everyone. Only then will there be no need to seek respect or anything else from others, for nothing will be lacking. In fact, any show of disrespect will be perceived as a call for love (T.14.X.7). If someone’s behavior evokes any other response or reaction, it means the mind has decided to put out receivers for the ego’s message. The only thing that will correct the judgments and feelings that follow this decision is to decide differently. That is accomplished through forgiveness, which begins with acknowledging that the feeling of being treated unfairly/disrespectfully comes from a choice in the mind, not someone else’s behavior. The ego’s message was received and given because it was chosen. The Holy Spirit’s Love is therefore lacking. The true respect we owe ourselves and everyone is to recognize that the source of one’s feeling deprived of respect, and the other’s attack of disprespect, is the mind of each, and then to see in both a call for help. As Jesus tells us in the text: “I have emphasized that the miracle [forgiveness], or the expression of Atonement, is always a sign of respect from the worthy to the worthy” (T.2.VI.8:1). Choosing respect in this way guarantees that what is received is given, and nothing will be lacking in any part of the Sonship. Awareness of this fullness may be blocked, but it nevertheless remains true.

That is not to say that someone could not be kindly asked to discontinue some form of discourteous or disrespectful behavior. If guided by the Holy Spirit there would be no attack in the request, no judgment, and, most importantly, no expectation that the behavior change. The important thing to remember is that the respect we all seek is found in our minds, where we choose it by choosing the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. In the instant of choosing it, it is given to ourselves and everyone: Its [forgiveness’] offering is universal, and it teaches but one message: What is God’s belongs to everyone, and is his due” (T.25.IX.10:9,10).

all fear is past

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 24

ACIM Text Reading for June 24

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

VII. The Call for Faith

The substitutes for aspects of the situation are the witnesses to your lack of faith. They demonstrate that you did not believe the situation and the problem were in the same place. The problem was the lack of faith, and it is this you demonstrate when you remove it from its source and place it elsewhere. As a result, you do not see the problem. Had you not lacked faith that it could be solved, the problem would be gone. And the situation would have been meaningful to you, because the interference in the way of understanding would have been removed. To remove the problem elsewhere is to keep it, for you remove yourself from it and make it unsolvable.

There is no problem in any situation that faith will not solve. There is no shift in any aspect of the problem but will make solution impossible. For if you shift part of the problem elsewhere the meaning of the problem must be lost, and the solution to the problem is inherent in its meaning. Is it not possible that all your problems have been solved, but you have removed yourself from the solution? Yet faith must be where something has been done, and where you see it done.

A situation is a relationship, being the joining of thoughts. If problems are perceived, it is because the thoughts are judged to be in conflict. But if the goal is truth, this is impossible. Some idea of bodies must have entered, for minds cannot attack. The thought of bodies is the sign of faithlessness, for bodies cannot solve anything. It is their intrusion on the relationship, an error in your thoughts about the situation, which then becomes the justification for your lack of faith. You will make this error, but be not at all concerned with that. The error does not matter. Faithlessness brought to faith will never interfere with truth. But faithlessness used againsttruth will always destroy faith. If you lack faith, ask that it be restored where it was lost, and seek not to have it made up to you elsewhere, as if you had been unjustly deprived of it.

Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation. But remember this; the goal of holiness was set for your relationship, and not by you. You did not set it because holiness cannot be seen except through faith, and your relationship was not holy because your faith in your brother was so limited and little. Your faith must grow to meet the goal that has been set. The goal’s reality will call this forth, for you will see that peace and faith will not come separately. What situation can you be in without faith, and remain faithful to your brother?

Every situation in which you find yourself is but a means to meet the purpose set for your relationship. See it as something else and you are faithless. Use not your faithlessness. Let it enter and look upon it calmly, but do not use it. Faithlessness is the servant of illusion, and wholly faithful to its master. Use it, and it will carry you straight to illusions. Be tempted not by what it offers you. It interferes, not with the goal, but with the value of the goal to you. Accept not the illusion of peace it offers, but look upon its offering and recognise it is illusion.

The goal of illusion is as closely tied to faithlessness as faith to truth. If you lack faith in anyone to fulfil, and perfectly, his part in any situation dedicated in advance to truth, your dedication is divided. And so you have been faithless to your brother, and used your faithlessness against him. No relationship is holy unless its holiness goes with it everywhere. As holiness and faith go hand in hand, so must its faith go everywhere with it. The goal’s reality will call forth and accomplish every miracle needed for its fulfilment. Nothing too small or too enormous, too weak or too compelling, but will be gently turned to its use and purpose. The universe will serve it gladly, as it serves the universe. But do not interfere.

The power set in you in whom the Holy Spirit’s goal has been established is so far beyond your little conception of the infinite that you have no idea how great the strength that goes with you. And you can use this in perfect safety. Yet for all its might, so great it reaches past the stars and to the universe that lies beyond them, your little faithlessness can make it useless, if you would use the faithlessness instead.

Yet think on this, and learn the cause of faithlessness: You think you hold against your brother what he has done to you. But what you really blame him for is what you did to him. It is not his past but yours you hold against him. And you lack faith in him because of what you were. Yet you are as innocent of what you were as he is. What never was is causeless, and is not there to interfere with truth. There is no cause for faithlessness, but there is Cause for faith. That Cause has entered any situation that shares Its purpose. The light of truth shines from the centre of the situation, and touches everyone to whom the situation’s purpose calls. It calls to everyone. There is no situation that does not involve your whole relationship, in every aspect and complete in every part. You can leave nothing of yourself outside it and keep the situation holy. For it shares the purpose of your whole relationship, and derives its meaning from it.

Enter each situation with the faith you give your brother, or you are faithless to your own relationship. Your faith will call the others to share your purpose, as the same purpose called forth the faith in you. And you will see the means you once employed to lead you to illusions transformed to means for truth. Truth calls for faith, and faith makes room for truth. When the Holy Spirit changed the purpose of your relationship by exchanging yours for His, the goal He placed there was extended to every situation in which you enter, or will ever enter. And every situation was thus made free of the past, which would have made it purposeless.

You call for faith because of Him Who walks with you in every situation. You are no longer wholly insane, nor no longer alone. For loneliness in God must be a dream. You whose relationship shares the Holy Spirit’s goal are set apart from loneliness because the truth has come. Its call for faith is strong. Use not your faithlessness against it, for it calls you to salvation and to peace.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 24

Lesson 157

Into His Presence would I enter now.

This is a day of silence and of trust. It is a special time of promise in your calendar of days. It is a time Heaven has set apart to shine upon, and cast a timeless light upon this day, when echoes of eternity are heard. This day is holy, for it ushers in a new experience; a different kind of feeling and awareness. You have spent long days and nights in celebrating death. Today you learn to feel the joy of life.

This is another crucial turning point in the curriculum. We add a new dimension now; a fresh experience that sheds a light on all that we have learned already, and prepares us for what we have yet to learn. It brings us to the door where learning ceases, and we catch a glimpse of what lies past the highest reaches it can possibly attain. It leaves us here an instant, and we go beyond it, sure of our direction and our only goal.

Today it will be given you to feel a touch of Heaven, though you will return to paths of learning. Yet you have come far enough along the way to alter time sufficiently to rise above its laws, and walk into eternity a while. This you will learn to do increasingly, as every lesson, faithfully rehearsed, brings you more swiftly to this holy place and leaves you, for a moment, to your Self.

He will direct your practicing today, for what you ask for now is what He wills. And having joined your will with His this day, what you are asking must be given you. Nothing is needed but today’s idea to light your mind, and let it rest in still anticipation and in quiet joy, wherein you quickly leave the world behind.

From this day forth, your ministry takes on a genuine devotion, and a glow that travels from your fingertips to those you touch, and blesses those you look upon. A vision reaches everyone you meet, and everyone you think of, or who thinks of you. For your experience today will so transform your mind that it becomes the touchstone for the holy Thoughts of God.

Your body will be sanctified today, its only purpose being now to bring the vision of what you experience this day to light the world. We cannot give experience like this directly. Yet it leaves a vision in our eyes which we can offer everyone, that he may come the sooner to the same experience in which the world is quietly forgot, and Heaven is remembered for a while.

As this experience increases and all goals but this become of little worth, the world to which you will return becomes a little closer to the end of time; a little more like Heaven in its ways; a little nearer its deliverance. And you who bring it light will come to see the light more sure; the vision more distinct. The time will come when you will not return in the same form in which you now appear, for you will have no need of it. Yet now it has a purpose, and will serve it well.

Today we will embark upon a course you have not dreamed of. But the Holy One, the Giver of the happy dreams of life, Translator of perception into truth, the holy Guide to Heaven given you, has dreamed for you this journey which you make and start today, with the experience this day holds out to you to be your own.

Into Christ’s Presence will we enter now, serenely unaware of everything except His shining face and perfect Love. The vision of His face will stay with you, but there will be an instant which transcends all vision, even this, the holiest. This you will never teach, for you attained it not through learning. Yet the vision speaks of your rememberance of what you knew that instant, and will surely know again.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #917The Course’s separation myth emphasizes the making of the world as a defense mechanism against the guilt and fear that God would take away the separate existence the Son desired (and the result is billions of fragments). I don’t see how this relates to what I think is the most basic fear: the fear of death. And I wonder why this separateness didn’t produce individuals that could last forever.

A: From our perspective as separate bodies in the world, it does seem that the fear of death is one of our most basic fears. And yet, from Jesus’ perspective, our problem is not our fear of death but our attraction to it, as discussed in great detail in the third obstacle to peace (T.19.IV.C) . For the belief in death is the cornerstone of the ego’s thought system — our seeming separate life came at God’s expense, requiring His death, the destruction of Oneness, according to the ego myth. And the belief that God eventually is going to steal back the life we stole from Him, culminating in our death and the end of our individual existence, is simply further proof that the separation is real, a sin punishable by God.

The irony of all of the ego’s defenses, including the fragmenting of the mind and the seeming projection of those fragments out into a world of form, is that none of them works, in terms of the purpose the ego has promised us they will serve. While we remain identified with the ego, nothing can make us safe, nothing can protect us from God’s wrath, except temporarily, for in the end death is inevitable, and it is this we believe we fear.

But what the ego defenses in fact do accomplish, which we do not allow ourselves to see or accept, is to keep our focus outside ourselves, on the world and the body and death, so that we do not see that we have made up the entire situation, from the beginning to the end in death, and none of it is true. Bodies may seem to die, but we are mind, created eternal by God, and the death of the body has nothing to do with us, unless we want to believe that it does. And we only want to believe that it does if we want the thought of separation and death to be real and we want to remain identified with the ego — which we do! And so that is why Jesus speaks of our attraction to death, conveniently hidden by our apparent fear of death.

Nearly all of our conscious thinking is upside down and backwards, and our conclusions seem quite justifiable because they seem to be all that we know. And so Jesus, through A Course in Miracles , is attempting very gently to peel back the layers of defense that we have embraced to keep our real attraction to death out of our awareness, so that we can see what we really believe and are choosing. As it becomes clearer to us that we are really choosing to believe in death, Jesus knows that we will be willing to make a different choice — for life, which has no opposite in death (W.pI.167.1) and has nothing to do with bodies.

Regarding your final question, while there are many different forms and stories that the ego could have produced, individuals who live forever is not among them. For the separation was made to be the opposite of God and Heaven, which alone are eternal, and so the ego can only attempt to mimic infinity and eternity e.g., T.4.I.11; T.4.V.6:1,2) . Even today’s scientists see its apparently most impressive accomplishment, the expanding universe of time and space, as eventually collapsing back upon itself.


Q #918I dabble with one line that we are supposed to repeat/meditate on: “The world I see holds nothing that I want” (W.pI.128). Of course, I know that this is not true. I live in a body and denying things I want/strive for seems to hold down my life energy and makes me feel depressed. Of course, the Course goes on with the additional statement, “Beyond this world there is a world I want” (W.pI.129) but I find that, as the Course also states, I want both worlds. Why do I have to decide between the two when true Heaven “holds no opposites”? I am somewhat puzzled by that. Also, in a channeled book by Doreen Virtue, the Angels advise not to worry too much about the “afterworld” but to go on enjoying our lives here in this world (of illusion). Now isn’t that a more direct path toward living a “happy dream” rather than rejecting this world, even if it is an illusion and transient and ending as it is? I can’t stop living in a body other than by just dying, can I? But dying is, according to A Course in Miracles , a sign of wrong-mindedness as well, just a way out by not deciding at all — is my understanding correct? I find the more I do the Course, the worse and more confusing things get.

A: Jesus knows that the world we see holds nothing that we truly want, but he’s not so naive as to think that we don’t believe there is value in the world. That is the reason he is presenting us this lesson, as he makes his case for encouraging us to accept and believe this thought, knowing all the while that we do not believe him. He challenges us to question the real value of all that we seek after in the world, knowing they are only projections of a thought of guilt and lack in the mind and could never truly satisfy us.

But it would be a misreading of these lessons to think that Jesus is asking us to reject the world or to deny ourselves anything we think we need or want. The world, once we have chosen it, is neutral, and can serve either the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s purpose. What Jesus is inviting us to do is to reject the ego thought system and its purpose for the world, which is to reinforce our belief in lack and deprivation, all the while holding someone else responsible for how we feel. The world is nothing more than a projection of an inner choice of what we wish to see, and we will perceive it differently depending on which inner teacher we turn to — the ego or the Holy Spirit.

While it is true that Heaven has no opposite, it is apparent that we can believe that we have made an opposite to Heaven, as witnessed by our seeming experience here in the illusory world of time and space and bodies. And while we continue to believe in the reality of that thought of opposition and its effects — the tiny mad idea of separation and the world that came from it — Jesus will work with us within that system of opposites to help us recognize more clearly the consequences of our choice for separation, so that we will be more willing to accept his correction for that choice — the true perception of the Holy Spirit, acquired through forgiveness. Not that the world of true perception is any more real that the world of false perception, but it does reflect the reality of Heaven’s oneness, where there are no opposites.

These lessons are not comparing the world of our experience to an afterworld that comes after death — that would still be a part of the ego thought system according to the Course e.g., M.27.4:1,2) — but to a different way of perceiving the world now! And as we practice that new perception, through forgiving all of our judgments, we will come to recognize more and more clearly that we are not living in this body we have thought of as our self. And we will then know that the body and the world are not escaped by death, but merely by changing our mind about who we think we are.

You will almost certainly confuse yourself if you try to reconcile the Course’s teachings with other spiritual paths and channeled works, for they are based on different explicit or implicit theologies, using different sets of symbols, and the steps they will lead you on may very well contradict, at least at the level of form, the specific steps the Course would invite you to take. This does not make either of them wrong, only different. And if you are more drawn to another form of teaching, which makes more sense or is less confusing to you than the Course, then, by all means, follow it.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 23

ACIM Text Reading for June 23

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

VI. Setting the Goal

The practical application of the Holy Spirit’s purpose is extremely simple, but it is unequivocal. In fact, in order to be simple it mustbe unequivocal. The simple is merely what is easily understood, and for this it is apparent that it must be clear. The setting of the Holy Spirit’s goal is general. Now He will work with you to make it specific, for application is specific. There are certain very specific guidelines He provides for any situation, but remember that you do not yet realise their universal application. Therefore, it is essential at this point to use them in each situation separately, until you can more safely look beyond each situation, in an understanding far broader than you now possess.

In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is ‘What do I want to come of this? What is it for?‘ The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome. In the ego’s procedure this is reversed. The situation becomes the determiner of the outcome, which can be anything. The reason for this disorganised approach is evident. The ego does not know what it wants to come of the situation. It is aware of what it does not want, but only that. It has no positive goal at all.

Without a clear-cut, positive goal, set at the outset, the situation just seems to happen, and makes no sense until it has already happened. Then you look back at it, and try to piece together what it must have meant. And you will be wrong. Not only is your judgement in the past, but you have no idea what should happen. No goal was set with which to bring the means in line. And now the only judgement left to make is whether or not the ego likes it; is it acceptable, or does it call for vengeance? The absence of a criterion for outcome, set in advance, makes understanding doubtful and evaluation impossible.

The value of deciding in advance what you want to happen is simply that you will perceive the situation as a means to make it happen. You will therefore make every effort to overlook what interferes with the accomplishment of your objective, and concentrate on everything that helps you meet it. It is quite noticeable that this approach has brought you closer to the Holy Spirit’s sorting out of truth and falsity. The true becomes what can be used to meet the goal. The false becomes the useless from this point of view. The situation now has meaning, but only because the goal has made it meaningful.

The goal of truth has further practical advantages. If the situation is used for truth and sanity, its outcome must be peace. And this is quite apart from what the outcome is. If peace is the condition of truth and sanity, and cannot be without them, where peace is they must be. Truth comes of itself. If you experience peace, it is because the truth has come to you and you will see the outcome truly, for deception cannot prevail against you. You will recognise the outcome because you are at peace. Here again you see the opposite of the ego’s way of looking, for the ego believes the situation brings the experience. The Holy Spirit knows that the situation is as the goal determines it, and is experienced according to the goal.

The goal of truth requires faith. Faith is implicit in the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and this faith is all-inclusive. Where the goal of truth is set, there faith must be. The Holy Spirit sees the situation as a whole. The goal establishes the fact that everyone involved in it will play his part in its accomplishment. This is inevitable. No one will fail in anything. This seems to ask for faith beyond you, and beyond what you can give. Yet this is so only from the viewpoint of the ego, for the ego believes in ‘solving’ conflict through fragmentation, and does not perceive the situation as a whole. Therefore, it seeks to split off segments of the situation and deal with them separately, for it has faith in separation and not in wholeness.

Confronted with any aspect of the situation that seems to be difficult, the ego will attempt to take this aspect elsewhere, and resolve it there. And it will seem to be successful, except that this attempt conflicts with unity, and must obscure the goal of truth. And peace will not be experienced except in fantasy. Truth has not come because faith has been denied, being withheld from where it rightfully belonged. Thus do you lose the understanding of the situation the goal of truth would bring. For fantasy solutions bring but the illusion of experience, and the illusion of peace is not the condition in which truth can enter.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 23

Lesson 156

I walk with God in perfect holiness.

Today’s idea but states the simple truth that makes the thought of sin impossible. It promises there is no cause for guilt, and being causeless it does not exist. It follows surely from the basic thought so often mentioned in the text; ideas leave not their source. If this be true, how can you be apart from God? How could you walk the world alone and separate from your Source?

We are not inconsistent in the thoughts that we present in our curriculum. Truth must be true throughout, if it be true. It cannot contradict itself, nor be in parts uncertain and in others sure. You cannot walk the world apart from God, because you could not be without Him. He is what your life is. Where you are He is. There is one life. That life you share with Him. Nothing can be apart from Him and live.

Yet where He is, there must be holiness as well as life. No attribute of His remains unshared by everything that lives. What lives is holy as Himself, because what shares His life is part of Holiness, and could no more be sinful than the sun could choose to be of ice; the sea elect to be apart from water, or the grass to grow with roots suspended in the air.

There is a light in you which cannot die; whose presence is so holy that the world is sanctified because of you. All things that live bring gifts to you, and offer them in gratitude and gladness at your feet. The scent of flowers is their gift to you. The waves bow down before you, and the trees extend their arms to shield you from the heat, and lay their leaves before you on the ground that you may walk in softness, while the wind sinks to a whisper round your holy head.

The light in you is what the universe longs to behold. All living things are still before you, for they recognize Who walks with you. The light you carry is their own. And thus they see in you their holiness, saluting you as savior and as God. Accept their reverence, for it is due to Holiness Itself, which walks with you, transforming in Its gentle light all things unto Its likeness and Its purity.

This is the way salvation works. As you step back, the light in you steps forward and encompasses the world. It heralds not the end of sin in punishment and death. In lightness and in laughter is sin gone, because its quaint absurdity is seen. It is a foolish thought, a silly dream, not frightening, ridiculous perhaps, but who would waste an instant in approach to God Himself for such a senseless whim?

Yet you have wasted many, many years on just this foolish thought. The past is gone, with all its fantasies. They keep you bound no longer. The approach to God is near. And in the little interval of doubt that still remains, you may perhaps lose sight of your Companion, and mistake Him for the senseless, ancient dream that now is past.

“Who walks with me?” This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace. Today let doubting cease. God speaks for you in answering your question with these words:

I walk with God in perfect holiness. I light the world,
I light my mind and all the minds which God created
one with me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #120: Did Jesus ever discuss giving up meat during any of his talks with Helen? In the Essene Gospels, he talks quite a bit about not eating meat. What’s your view on this?

A: In scribing A Course in Miracles, Helen Schucman did not receive any instruction regarding eating meat — the topic was not discussed. The Course is not the same teaching as the Essene Gospels. It is a Course on content, not form, and so there are no directives for behavior, as in the Essene Gospels.

There are two very important principles of the Course that may be helpful to consider in response to your question, both are stated in the same passage: “There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion” (T.23.II.19:1,2,3). If no life exists outside of Heaven, and any other state is an illusion, it would be very inconsistent with the Course’s teaching that any kind of behavior in the dream be awarded significance. The Course is teaching us to become aware of the interpretation we give to everything, thereby becoming aware of the thoughts, beliefs, and judgments that make up our ego thought system. In this way we will be able to learn to see the true connection between cause and effect, and understand that the source of all our pain is in the mind. Therefore the only thing the Course asks us to do is pay attention to our thoughts, see them as the cause of any condition we may find ourselves in, and bring them to the Holy Spirit so they can be transformed. Beyond this the Course does not give any specific behavioral directives for choices made in an hallucination: “What if you recognized this world is an hallucination?” (T.20.VIII.7:3) Based on these important principles of the Course it is not in keeping with its thought system to abstain from meat because it means killing a “living” creature, or because it is a “spiritually superior” thing to do. With regard to this, as to any specific situation or problem we may have, the Course instructs us to ask but one question: “This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything. What is the purpose? Whatever it is, it will direct your efforts automatically” (T.4.V.6:8,9,10). Everything serves the purpose of the ego or that of the Holy Spirit. Whether we eat meat or refrain from eating meat, the important thing to remember is that we do not make decisions by ourselves:“You will not make decisions by yourself whatever you decide. For they are made with idols or with God” (T.30.I.14:7,8). Our choice will reinforce the ego’s thought system, that the world is real, and what we eat makes a difference, or the Holy Spirit’s thought system, that the world is an illusion, and the only thing that matters in the dream is healing our mind of the thought that we believe we separated from God. Regarding specific behavior, Krishnamurti offered very helpful advice to one of his followers in reference to having sex, which we can paraphrase to apply to your question: “Eat meat, or don’t eat meat, but get on with it.”


Q #121: It has been said that we created the body after the separation. With all of the beauty that is of this earth that can be seen, as well as the incredible variety of life that thrives here, did God create the physical earth, or did we?

A: Before answering your question, we must clarify that in A Course in Miracles, the term “create” is used only in reference to God’s ability to create. His creation is His Son who abides with Him in Heaven. When speaking about the physical world in the dream illusion, including the body, the Course uses the term “made” or “miscreate.” It is unmistakable in its teaching regarding the origin of the physical world: “The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself” (C.4.1:1,2). Thus, neither the world nor the body exists in reality. Since our experience of being physical bodies living in a physical world seems so real to us, it is important to keep in mind, as we speak of the world, that none of this could ever actually occur.

In this dream of separation the world is the place where the sleeping son, consumed with guilt at having seemingly separated from God, comes to hide from the imagined wrath of a punishing God. A Course in Miracles teaches that the ego, gone mad with guilt, made the world, along with the body, not only to hide from God, but to keep God out of awareness: “The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love’s absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him” (W.pII.3:1,2,3,4). Clearly then, according to the thought system of the Course, God did not make the world. It is the effect of the thought of separation, and is maintained by the ongoing guilt of that thought: “The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that.…It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition” (T21.in.1:2,5). This does not mean that we should seek to see the good and the beautiful in the world, as opposed to the evil and the ugly. It refers to the choice we have of seeing the ego’s interpretation of the world, or the Holy Spirit’s.

The ego looks at the beauty and variety in the world as proof that the world is real, that God “created” it, and that our pursuit of enjoyment in this world is blessed by Him. In accord with this thinking, God also made the devastating natural disasters that afflict the world, the so called “acts of God” found in our insurance policies. God must then be cruel indeed. The ego’s thinking makes God responsible not only for the beauty, but for all the various forms of physical, psychological and emotional suffering we find in this world. The apparent beauty of the world captures our attention as a ploy of the ego to keep us engaged in its lie — that happiness is possible outside of Heaven. For further thoughts on our experience of beauty in the world, please see our answer to question #70.

this is practical course

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 22

ACIM Text Reading for June 22

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

V. The Healed Relationship

The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world. Like everything about salvation, the holy instant is a practical device, witnessed to by its results. The holy instant never fails. The experience of it is always felt. Yet without expression it is not remembered. The holy relationship is a constant reminder of the experience in which the relationship became what it is. And as the unholy relationship is a continuing hymn of hate in praise of its maker, so is the holy relationship a happy song of praise to the Redeemer of relationships.

The holy relationship, a major step toward the perception of the real world, is learned. It is the old, unholy relationship, transformed and seen anew. The holy relationship is a phenomenal teaching accomplishment. In all its aspects, as it begins, develops and becomes accomplished, it represents the reversal of the unholy relationship. Be comforted in this; the only difficult phase is the beginning. For here, the goal of the relationship is abruptly shifted to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit, to use for His purposes.

This invitation is accepted immediately, and the Holy Spirit wastes no time in introducing the practical results of asking Him to enter. At once His goal replaces yours. This is accomplished very rapidly, but it makes the relationship seem disturbed, disjunctive and even quite distressing. The reason is quite clear. For the relationship as it is, is out of line with its own goal, and clearly unsuited to the purpose that has been accepted for it. In its unholy condition, your goal was all that seemed to give it meaning. Now it seems to make no sense. Many relationships have been broken off at this point, and the pursuit of the old goal re-established in another relationship. For once the unholy relationship has accepted the goal of holiness, it can never again be what it was.

The temptation of the ego becomes extremely intense with this shift in goals. For the relationship has not as yet been changed sufficiently to make its former goal completely without attraction, and its structure is ‘threatened’ by the recognition of its inappropriateness for meeting its new purpose. The conflict between the goal and the structure of the relationship is so apparent that they cannot coexist. Yet now the goal will not be changed. Set firmly in the unholy relationship, there is no course except to change the relationship to fit the goal. Until this happy solution is seen and accepted as the only way out of the conflict, the relationship may seem to be severely strained.

It would not be kinder to shift the goal more slowly, for the contrast would be obscured, and the ego given time to reinterpret each slow step according to its liking. Only a radical shift in purpose could induce a complete change of mind about what the whole relationship is for. As this change develops and is finally accomplished, it grows increasingly beneficent and joyous. But at the beginning, the situation is experienced as very precarious. A relationship, undertaken by two individuals for their unholy purposes, suddenly has holiness for its goal. As these two contemplate their relationship from the point of view of this new purpose, they are inevitably appalled. Their perception of the relationship may even become quite disorganised. And yet, the former organisation of their perception no longer serves the purpose they have agreed to meet.

This is the time for faith. You let this goal be set for you. That was an act of faith. Do not abandon faith, now that the rewards of faith are being introduced. If you believed the Holy Spirit was there to accept the relationship, why would you now not still believe that He is there to purify what He has taken under His guidance? Have faith in your brother in what but seems to be a trying time. The goal is set. And your relationship has sanity as its purpose. For now you find yourself in an insane relationship, recognised as such in the light of its goal.

Now the ego counsels thus; substitute for this another relationship to which your former goal was quite appropriate. You can escape from your distress only by getting rid of your brother. You need not part entirely if you choose not to do so. But you must exclude major areas of fantasy from your brother, to save your sanity. Hear not this now! Have faith in Him Who answered you. He heard. Has He not been very explicit in His answer? You are not now wholly insane. Can you deny that He has given you a most explicit statement? Now He asks for faith a little longer, even in bewilderment. For this will go, and you will see the justification for your faith emerge, to bring you shining conviction. Abandon Him not now, nor your brother. This relationship has been reborn as holy.

Accept with gladness what you do not understand, and let it be explained to you as you perceive its purpose work in it to make it holy. You will find many opportunities to blame your brother for the ‘failure’ of your relationship, for it will seem at times to have no purpose. A sense of aimlessness will come to haunt you, and to remind you of all the ways you once sought for satisfaction and thought you found it. Forget not now the misery you really found, and do not breathe life into your failing ego. For your relationship has not been disrupted. It has been saved.

You are very new in the ways of salvation, and think you have lost your way. Your way is lost, but think not this is loss. In your newness, remember that you and your brother have started again, together. And take his hand, to walk together along a road far more familiar than you now believe. Is it not certain that you will remember a goal unchanged throughout eternity? For you have chosen but the goal of God, from which your true intent was never absent.

Throughout the Sonship is the song of freedom heard, in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship. Join in His blessing, and withhold not yours upon it. For all it needs now is your blessing, that you may see that in it rests salvation. Condemn salvation not, for it has come to you. And welcome it together, for it has come to join you and your brother together in a relationship in which all the Sonship is together blessed.

You undertook, together, to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise. Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work. And He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him. Nor does He see the mistakes at all. Have you been similarly grateful to your brother? Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts, and overlooked mistakes? Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes? Perhaps you are now entering upon a campaign to blame him for the discomfort of the situation in which you find yourself. And by this lack of thanks and gratitude you make yourself unable to express the holy instant, and thus lose sight of it.

The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time, but not concealed within it. The instant remains: But where are you? To give thanks to your brother is to appreciate the holy instant, and thus enable its results to be accepted and shared. To attack your brother is not to lose the instant, but to make it powerless in its effects.

You have received the holy instant, but you may have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realise that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack your brother, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself, and to recognise what has been given and received by you.

You and your brother stand together in the holy presence of truth itself. Here is the goal, together with you. Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? It is just this same discrepancy between the purpose that has been accepted and the means as they stand now which seems to make you suffer, but which makes Heaven glad. If Heaven, were outside you, you could not share in its gladness. Yet because it is within, the gladness, too, is yours. You are joined in purpose, but remain still separate and divided on the means. Yet the goal is fixed, firm and unalterable, and the means will surely fall in place because the goal is sure. And you will share the gladness of the Sonship that it is so.

As you begin to recognise and accept the gifts you have so freely given to your brother, you will also accept the effects of the holy instant and use them to correct all your mistakes and free you from their results. And learning this, you will have also learned how to release all the Sonship, and offer it in gladness and thanksgiving to Him Who gave you your release, and Who would extend it through you.

 

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 22

Lesson 155

I will step back and let Him lead the way.

There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet. And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. Yet those who have not yet perceived the way will recognize you also, and believe that you are like them, as you were before.

The world is an illusion. Those who choose to come to it are seeking for a place where they can be illusions, and avoid their own reality. Yet when they find their own reality is even here, then they step back and let it lead the way. What other choice is really theirs to make? To let illusions walk ahead of truth is madness. But to let illusion sink behind the truth and let the truth stand forth as what it is, is merely sanity.

This is the simple choice we make today. The mad illusion will remain awhile in evidence, for those to look upon who chose to come, and have not yet rejoiced to find they were mistaken in their choice. They cannot learn directly from the truth, because they have denied that it is so. And so they need a Teacher Who perceives their madness, but Who still can look beyond illusion to the simple truth in them.

If truth demanded they give up the world, it would appear to them as if it asked the sacrifice of something that is real. Many have chosen to renounce the world while still believing its reality. And they have suffered from a sense of loss, and have not been released accordingly. Others have chosen nothing but the world, and they have suffered from a sense of loss still deeper, which they did not understand.

Between these paths there is another road that leads away from loss of every kind, for sacrifice and deprivation both are quickly left behind. This is the way appointed for you now. You walk this path as others walk, nor do you seem to be distinct from them, although you are indeed. Thus can you serve them while you serve yourself, and set their footsteps on the way that God has opened up to you, and them through you.

Illusion still appears to cling to you, that you may reach them. Yet it has stepped back. And it is not illusion that they hear you speak of, nor illusion that you bring their eyes to look on and their minds to grasp. Nor can the truth, which walks ahead of you, speak to them through illusions, for the road leads past illusion now, while on the way you call to them, that they may follow you.

All roads will lead to this one in the end. For sacrifice and deprivation are paths that lead nowhere, choices for defeat, and aims that will remain impossible. All this steps back as truth comes forth in you, to lead your brothers from the ways of death, and set them on the way to happiness. Their suffering is but illusion. Yet they need a guide to lead them out of it, for they mistake illusion for the truth.

Such is salvation’s call, and nothing more. It asks that you accept the truth, and let it go before you, lighting up the path of ransom from illusion. It is not a ransom with a price. There is no cost, but only gain. Illusion can but seem to hold in chains the holy Son of God. It is but from illusions he is saved. As they step back, he finds himself again.

Walk safely now, yet carefully, because this path is new to you. And you may find that you are tempted still to walk ahead of truth, and let illusions be your guide. Your holy brothers have been given you, to follow in your footsteps as you walk with certainty of purpose to the truth. It goes before you now, that they may see something with which they can identify; something they understand to lead the way.

Yet at the journey’s ending there will be no gap, no distance between truth and you. And all illusions walking in the way you travelled will be gone from you as well, with nothing left to keep the truth apart from God’s completion, holy as Himself. Step back in faith and let truth lead the way. You know not where you go. But One Who knows goes with you. Let Him lead you with the rest.

When dreams are over, time has closed the door on all the things that pass and miracles are purposeless, the holy Son of God will make no journeys. There will be no wish to be illusion rather than the truth. And we step forth toward this, as we progress along the way that truth points out to us. This is our final journey, which we make for everyone. We must not lose our way. For as truth goes before us, so it goes before our brothers who will follow us.

We walk to God. Pause and reflect on this. Could any way be holier, or more deserving of your effort, of your love and of your full intent? What way could give you more than everything, or offer less and still content the holy Son of God? We walk to God. The truth that walks before us now is one with Him, and leads us to where He has always been. What way but this could be a path that you would choose instead?

Your feet are safely set upon the road that leads the world to God. Look not to ways that seem to lead you elsewhere. Dreams are not a worthy guide for you who are God’s Son. Forget not He has placed His Hand in yours, and given you your brothers in His trust that you are worthy of His trust in you. He cannot be deceived. His trust has made your pathway certain and your goal secure. You will not fail your brothers nor your Self.

And now He asks but that you think of Him a while each day, that He may speak to you and tell you of His Love, reminding you how great His trust; how limitless His Love. In your Name and His Own, which are the same, we practice gladly with this thought today:

I will step back and let Him lead the way,
For I would walk along the road to Him.

 

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1322There appears to be a contradiction in A Course in Miracles , or perhaps in my understanding of it. It is saying that the suffering in our dream is a reflection of the suffering caused by guilt in our minds, and the benefits of a healed mind is a happy dream. On the other hand, it says that our bad times in the dream are reflecting and bringing into our awareness our unconscious guilt and making it conscious so that we can forgive it and release. When we are able to do that, our innocent mind brings the benefits of reflecting that outward while we still believe we are here. Then why should we question these good times as just a cover over unconscious guilt? In other words, how do we determine if the blessings in our dream are covering up the guilt, or they are just the benefits of right thinking and a healed mind? And do most people believe that their suffering is bringing them closer to God, rather than a dream of health, abundance, and joy?

A: Good question! Many students have experienced confusion over this. What helps is to sort out form and content. A happy dream in A Course in Miraclesis a state of mind (content) in which the Holy Spirit has been chosen as your Teacher, and only His purpose for everything is valued. Though still within the illusion, it is called a happy dream because instead of being the ego’s dream of condemnation, judgment, and self-centeredness, it is the right-minded dream of forgiveness, compassion, and shared purpose. This is all within the mind — its content.

Once this state has been reached, you are always at peace: all sense of lack is gone; there is no guilt or self-hatred; and no need for projection or other defenses. And most important for the context of your question, there is no concern over anything external, no investment in having things go a certain way in the world, or in having what the world defines as good fortune or blessings. Your peace and happiness are not dependent on anything external. Further, nothing is taken personally — either so-called good times or bad times, because nothing is perceived in those terms. Jesus says this in many ways in the Course, one coming in the section “Above the Battleground”: “Think what is given those who share their Father’s purpose, and who know it is theirs. They want for nothing. Sorrow of any kind is inconceivable. . . . They know it is impossible their happiness could ever suffer change of any kind. . . . No one who knows that he has everything could seek for limitation, nor could he value the body’s offerings” (T.23.IV.8:1,2,3,6; 9:4).

Now, it is true that if there is no guilt in your mind, you would not seek to punish yourself in any way. But how that would appear in form is not knowable. It cannot be evaluated using the categories of the world. For instance, in the world’s judgment, some pretty awful things happened to Jesus’ body; yet, he did not suffer because he knew he was not his body, and he never perceived himself as persecuted or betrayed see T.6.I.5,9,11). We thus need to be cautious about drawing conclusions simply from the condition of one’s body or life circumstances (form). And we also need to keep in mind the Course’s central teaching that perception is always interpretation .

As another example: the projection of my guilt onto my body may be the source of my illness; but then I could let go of that guilt and choose to learn further lessons in that same bodily condition. In other words, my illness is now my classroom, and so I would perceive the illness in a completely different way. The illness may be ravaging my body, but if in the process I am learning that I am not my body and that no one else is theirs, I would not be experiencing the illness as anything negative, even as I continue with medical treatment. The content in my mind would have shifted. What brings me closer to God, thus, is not the suffering, but the purpose I have chosen to give it in my mind. However, I can choose that same purpose of undoing my belief in separation with a healthy body, too; and I can choose it whether I am financially secure or struggling financially. One more example: a healed mind could choose the appearance of a diseased or defective body as a means of teaching others they can be peaceful no matter what is going on externally. That mind would be totally at peace at all times (content), in the face of what the world might call misfortune (form).

That abiding state of peace is the “benefit” of having a healed mind. In that state, you would know that nothing else is real, and that nothing can affect that peace in any way. Moreover, aside from your smiling more frequently, your life would probably be indistinguishable from anyone else’s (W.pI.155:1). On the other hand, if your state of mind is linked to external conditions, then you should suspect some ego dynamics at work. If you are happy and content only under certain conditions, and your happiness and contentment are threatened or disappear when those conditions change, that should tell you that the happiness is not authentic. The joy and peace that God intended us to have as His creation are eternal; they are not conditional and they do not fluctuate or change — they are our very Identity unified with His. In Lesson 133, Jesus gives us some criteria to use in determining whether what we are choosing is of value or not (W.pI.133). The only true blessings are those that restore to our awareness the all-inclusiveness of love, the all-inclusiveness of the Sonship.

total commitment

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 21

ACIM Text Reading for June 21

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

IV. The Two Pictures

God established His relationship with you to make you happy, and nothing you do that does not share His purpose can be real. The purpose God ascribed to anything is its only function. Because of His reason for creating His relationship with you, the function of relationships became forever ‘to make happy’. And nothing else. To fulfil this function you relate to your creations as God to His. For nothing God created is apart from happiness, and nothing God created but would extend happiness as its Creator did. Whatever does not fulfil this function cannot be real.

In this world it is impossible to create. Yet it is possible to make happy. I have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them. And all that is meant by that is that He will restore to them the function given them by God. The function you have given them is clearly not to make happy. But the holy relationship shares God’s purpose, rather than aiming to make a substitute for it. Every special relationship you have made is a substitute for God’s Will, and glorifies yours instead of His because of the illusion that they are different.

You have made very real relationships even in this world. Yet you do not recognise them because you have raised their substitutes to such predominance that, when truth calls to you, as it does constantly, you answer with a substitute. Every special relationship you have made has, as its fundamental purpose, the aim of occupying your mind so completely that you will not hear the call of truth.

In a sense, the special relationship was the ego’s answer to the creation of the Holy Spirit, who was God’s Answer to the separation. For although the ego did not understand what had been created, it was aware of threat. The whole defence system the ego evolved to protect the separation from the Holy Spirit was in response to the gift with which God blessed it, and by His blessing enabled it to be healed. This blessing holds within itself the truth about everything. And the truth is that the Holy Spirit is in close relationship with you, because in Him is your relationship with God restored to you. The relationship with Him has never been broken, because the Holy Spirit has not been separate from anyone since the separation. And through Him have all your holy relationships been carefully preserved, to serve God’s purpose for you.

The ego is always alert to threat, and the part of your mind into which the ego was accepted is very anxious to preserve its reason, as it sees it. It does not realise that it is totally insane. And you must realise just what this means if you would be restored to sanity. The insane protect their thought systems, but they do so insanely. And all their defences are as insane as what they are supposed to protect. The separation has nothing in it, no part, no ‘reason’, and no attribute that is not insane. And its ‘protection’ is part of it, as insane as the whole. The special relationship, which is its chief defence, must therefore be insane.

You have but little difficulty now in realising that the thought system the special relationship protects is but a system of delusions. You recognise, at least in general terms, that the ego is insane. Yet the special relationship still seems to you somehow to be ‘different’. Yet we have looked at it far closer than we have at many other aspects of the ego’s thought system that you have been more willing to let go. While this one remains, you will not let the others go. For this one is not different. Retain this one, and you have retained the whole.

It is essential to realise that all defences do what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend. What they defend is placed in them for safe-keeping, and as they operate they bring it to you. Every defence operates by giving gifts, and the gift is always a miniature of the thought system the defence protects, set in a golden frame. The frame is very elaborate, all set with jewels, and deeply carved and polished. Its purpose is to be of value in itself, and to divert your attention from what it encloses. But the frame without the picture you cannot have. Defences operate to make you think you can.

The special relationship has the most imposing and deceptive frame of all the defences the ego uses. Its thought system is offered here, surrounded by a frame so heavy and so elaborate that the picture is almost obliterated by its imposing structure. Into the frame are woven all sorts of fanciful and fragmented illusions of love, set with dreams of sacrifice and self-aggrandisement, and interlaced with gilded threads of self-destruction. The glitter of blood shines like rubies, and the tears are faceted like diamonds and gleam in the dim light in which the offering is made.

Look at the picture. Do not let the frame distract you. This gift is given you for your damnation, and if you take it you will believe that you are damned. You cannot have the frame without the picture. What you value is the frame, for there you see no conflict. Yet the frame is only the wrapping for the gift of conflict. The frame is not the gift. Be not deceived by the most superficial aspects of this thought system, for these aspects enclose the whole, complete in every aspect. Death lies in this glittering gift. Let not your gaze dwell on the hypnotic gleaming of the frame. Look at the picture, and realise that death is offered you.

That is why the holy instant is so important in the defence of truth. The truth itself needs no defence, but you do need defence against your acceptance of the gift of death. When you who are truth accept an idea so dangerous to truth, you threaten truth with destruction. And your defence must now be undertaken, to keep truth whole. The power of Heaven, the Love of God, the tears of Christ, and the joy of His eternal Spirit are marshalled to defend you from your own attack. For you attack Them, being part of Them, and They must save you, for They love Themselves.

The holy instant is a miniature of Heaven, sent you from Heaven. It is a picture, too, set in a frame. Yet if you accept this gift you will not see the frame at all, because the gift can only be accepted through your willingness to focus all your attention on the picture. The holy instant is a miniature of eternity. It is a picture of timelessness, set in a frame of time. If you focus on the picture, you will realise that it was only the frame that made you think it was a picture. Without the frame, the picture is seen as what it represents. For as the whole thought system of the ego lies in its gifts, so the whole of Heaven lies in this instant, borrowed from eternity and set in time for you.

Two gifts are offered you. Each is complete, and cannot be partially accepted. Each is a picture of all that you can have, seen very differently. You cannot compare their value by comparing a picture to a frame. It must be the pictures only that you compare, or the comparison is wholly without meaning. Remember that it is the picture that is the gift. And only on this basis are you really free to choose. Look at the pictures. Both of them. One is a tiny picture, hard to see at all beneath the heavy shadows of its enormous and disproportionate enclosure. The other is lightly framed and hung in light, lovely to look upon for what it is.

You who have tried so hard, and are still trying, to fit the better picture into the wrong frame and so combine what cannot be combined, accept this and be glad: These pictures are each framed perfectly, for what they represent. One is framed to be out of focus and not seen. The other is framed for perfect clarity. The picture of darkness and of death grows less convincing as you search it out amid its wrappings. As each senseless stone that seems to shine from the frame in darkness is exposed to light, it becomes dull and lifeless, and ceases to distract you from the picture. And finally you look upon the picture itself, seeing at last that, unprotected by the frame, it has no meaning.

The other picture is lightly framed, for time cannot contain eternity. There is no distraction here. The picture of Heaven and eternity grows more convincing as you look at it. And now, by real comparison, a transformation of both pictures can at last occur. And each is given its rightful place when both are seen in relation to each other. The dark picture, brought to light, is not perceived as fearful, but the fact that it is just a picture is brought home at last. And what you see there you will recognise as what it is; a picture of what you thought was real, and nothing more. For beyond this picture you will see nothing.

The picture of light, in clear-cut and unmistakable contrast, is transformed into what lies beyond the picture. As you look on this, you realise that it is not a picture, but a reality. This is no figured representation of a thought system, but the Thought itself. What it represents is there. The frame fades gently and God rises to your remembrance, offering you the whole of creation in exchange for your little picture, wholly without value and entirely deprived of meaning.

As God ascends into His rightful place and you to yours, you will experience again the meaning of relationship and know it to be true. Let us ascend in peace together to the Father, by giving Him ascendance in our minds. We will gain everything by giving Him the power and the glory, and keeping no illusions of where they are. They are in us, through His ascendance. What He has given is His. It shines in every part of Him, as in the whole. The whole reality of your relationship with Him lies in our relationship to one another. The holy instant shines alike on all relationships, for in it they are one. For here is only healing, already complete and perfect. For here is God, and where He is only the perfect and complete can be.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 21

Lesson 154

I am among the ministers of God.

Let us today be neither arrogant nor falsely humble. We have gone beyond such foolishness. We cannot judge ourselves, nor need we do so. These are but attempts to hold decision off, and to delay commitment to our function. It is not our part to judge our worth, nor can we know what role is best for us; what we can do within a larger plan we cannot see in its entirety. Our part is cast in Heaven, not in hell. And what we think is weakness can be strength; what we believe to be our strength is often arrogance.

Whatever your appointed role may be, it was selected by the Voice for God, Whose function is to speak for you as well. Seeing your strengths exactly as they are, and equally aware of where they can be best applied, for what, to whom and when, He chooses and accepts your part for you. He does not work without your own consent. But He is not deceived in what you are, and listens only to His Voice in you.

It is through His ability to hear one Voice which is His Own that you become aware at last there is one Voice in you. And that one Voice appoints your function, and relays it to you, giving you the strength to understand it, do what it entails, and to succeed in everything you do that is related to it. God has joined His Son in this, and thus His Son becomes His messenger of unity with Him.

It is this joining, through the Voice for God, of Father and of Son, that sets apart salvation from the world. It is this Voice which speaks of laws the world does not obey; which promises salvation from all sin, with guilt abolished in the mind that God created sinless. Now this mind becomes aware again of Who created it, and of His lasting union with itself. So is its Self the one reality in which its will and that of God are joined.

A messenger is not the one who writes the message he delivers. Nor does he question the right of him who does, nor ask why he has chosen those who will receive the message that he brings. It is enough that he accept it, give it to the ones for whom it is intended, and fulfill his role in its delivery. If he determines what the messages should be, or what their purpose is, or where they should be carried, he is failing to perform his proper part as bringer of the Word.

There is one major difference in the role of Heaven’s messengers, which sets them off from those the world appoints. The messages that they deliver are intended first for them. And it is only as they can accept them for themselves that they become able to bring them further, and to give them everywhere that they were meant to be. Like earthly messengers, they did not write the messages they bear, but they become their first receivers in the truest sense, receiving to prepare themselves to give.

An earthly messenger fulfills his role by giving all his messages away. The messengers of God perform their part by their acceptance of His messages as for themselves, and show they understand the messages by giving them away. They choose no roles that are not given them by His authority. And so they gain by every message that they give away.

Would you receive the messages of God? For thus do you become His messenger. You are appointed now. And yet you wait to give the messages you have received. And so you do not know that they are yours, and do not recognize them. No one can receive and understand he has received until he gives. For in the giving is his own acceptance of what he received.

You who are now the messenger of God, receive His messages. For that is part of your appointed role. God has not failed to offer what you need, nor has it been left unaccepted. Yet another part of your appointed task is yet to be accomplished. He Who has received for you the messages of God would have them be received by you as well. For thus do you identify with Him and claim your own.

It is this joining that we undertake to recognize today. We will not seek to keep our minds apart from Him Who speaks for us, for it is but our voice we hear as we attend Him. He alone can speak to us and for us, joining in one Voice the getting and the giving of God’s Word; the giving and receiving of His Will.

We practice giving Him what He would have, that we may recognize His gifts to us. He needs our voice that He may speak through us. He needs our hands to hold His messages, and carry them to those whom He appoints. He needs our feet to bring us where He wills, that those who wait in misery may be at last delivered. And He needs our will united with His Own, that we may be the true receivers of the gifts He gives.

Let us but learn this lesson for today: We will not recognize what we receive until we give it. You have heard this said a hundred ways, a hundred times, and yet belief is lacking still. But this is sure; until belief is given it, you will receive a thousand miracles and then receive a thousand more, but will not know that God Himself has left no gift beyond what you already have; nor has denied the tiniest of blessings to His Son. What can this mean to you, until you have identified with Him and with His Own?

Our lesson for today is stated thus:

I am among the ministers of God, and I am grateful that
I have the means by which to recognize that I am free.

The world recedes as we light up our minds, and realize these holy words are true. They are the message sent to us today from our Creator. Now we demonstrate how they have changed our minds about ourselves, and what our function is. For as we prove that we accept no will we do not share, our many gifts from our Creator will spring to our sight and leap into our hands, and we will recognize what we received.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #562: In chapter 17 of A Course in Miracles, Section IV, The Two Pictures, the text explains how defenses works. It says: “It is essential to realize that all defenses do what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend. What they defend is placed in them for safe-keeping, and as they operate they bring it to you. Every defense operates by giving gifts, and the gift is always a miniature of the thought system the defense protects, set in a golden frame. The frame is very elaborate, all set with jewels, and deeply carved and polished. Its purpose is to be of value in itself, and to divert your attention from what it encloses. But the frame without the picture you cannot have. Defenses operate to make you think you can.” Would you kindly elaborate on this. If my defense is, for example, eating out of fear, how does this relate?

A: We choose defenses in an attempt to handle our fear and make ourselves feel better and safer. And yet, the defense is only there because of the underlying fear that we are attempting to manage. So the defense, no matter what form it takes, becomes a constant reminder — conscious or unconscious — of the underlying fear. This is inherent in the dualistic thought system of the ego, which always operates on the assumption of polar opposites, such as safe and unsafe. We never question the underlying premise that we can be threatened, but instead accept danger as true and then seek to protect ourselves from it (W.pI.135.1,2,3).

In the specific case of eating out of fear, food becomes equated in our mind with comforting ourselves, or filling the gaping hole that makes us feel empty and vulnerable. But giving food this purpose only reinforces our belief in discomfort and emptiness and vulnerability. Food offers us something flavorful and satisfying (the frame), which seems to make us feel better, perhaps distracting us from the gnawing feeling inside, at least temporarily. But the purpose we have given it to rescue us establishes it as a symbol of the very thing we are trying to avoid or escape – – the underlying guilt and fear. And so, as a symbol of what is underneath, it becomes a reminder of what we have intended it to save us from, offering us the very same “gifts,” only obscured.

However, once we recognize the purpose we have given food to comfort us in our fear, as with all the special gifts of the ego, we can now invite the great Comforter to join us and give food a different purpose. The correction the Holy Spirit offers would not be to stop eating but rather to use food instead as a means to remind us of the fear underneath that we have attempted to keep hidden and at bay by eating. We can bring the fear into our awareness with the Holy Spirit and question the source of that fear. For the fear is nothing more than a projection of our own guilt, represented by a gaping hole within our very being, accompanied by a devastating feeling of emptiness, because we believe we have destroyed the only thing that can truly make us feel complete and full and safe — love. With the Symbol of Love beside us, we can begin to question the premise of our emptiness, rather than continuing to try to fill it — thereby making it real — with all of our “substitutes for love” (W.pI.117.1:3), such as food.

*

Q #1321What does Jesus mean when he says in A Course in Miracles that we “have made very real relationships even in this world” (T.17.IV.3:1)? He goes on to say that we do not recognize them. What “real relationships” is he referring to?

A: The “very real relationships” are holy relationships: instances in which you forgave someone or did not judge; instances in which you did not see your interests as separate from another’s. It could have been an interaction with a waiter in a restaurant who was having a bad day, but you did not judge him; or perhaps a child ran into you in the supermarket, but you did not get angry; or you may have had only compassion for someone who was unkind. You may not even have realized at the time that you transcended your ego; and in that sense you did not recognize these “real relationships.” In the manual, Jesus discusses this idea in the context of levels of teaching or teaching-learning situations (M.3).

be of good cheer