A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 3

ACIM Text Reading for July 3

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

IX. The Two Worlds

You have been told to bring the darkness to the light, and guilt to holiness. And you have also been told that error must be corrected at its source. Therefore, it is the tiny part of yourself, the little thought that seems split off and separate, the Holy Spirit needs. The rest is fully in God’s keeping, and needs no guide. Yet this wild and delusional thought needs help because, in its delusions, it thinks it is the Son of God, whole and omnipotent, sole ruler of the kingdom it set apart to tyrannise by madness into obedience and slavery. This is the little part you think you stole from Heaven. Give it back to Heaven. Heaven has not lost it, but you have lost sight of Heaven. Let the Holy Spirit remove it from the withered kingdom in which you set it off, surrounded by darkness, guarded by attack and reinforced by hate. Within its barricades is still a tiny segment of the Son of God, complete and holy, serene and unaware of what you think surrounds it.

Be you not separate, for the One Who does surround it has brought union to you, returning your little offering of darkness to the eternal light. How is this done? It is extremely simple, being based on what this little kingdom really is. The barren sands, the darkness and the lifelessness, are seen only through the body’s eyes. Its bleak sight is distorted, and the messages it transmits to you who made it to limit your awareness are little and limited, and so fragmented they are meaningless.

From the world of bodies, made by insanity, insane messages seem to be returned to the mind that made it. And these messages bear witness to this world, pronouncing it as true. For you sent forth these messengers to bring this back to you. Everything these messages relay to you is quite external. There are no messages that speak of what lies underneath, for it is not the body that could speak of this. Its eyes perceive it not; its senses remain quite unaware of it; its tongue cannot relay its messages. Yet God can bring you there, if you are willing to follow the Holy Spirit through seeming terror, trusting Him not to abandon you and leave you there. For it is not His purpose to frighten you, but only yours. You are severely tempted to abandon Him at the outside ring of fear, but He would lead you safely through and far beyond.

The circle of fear lies just below the level the body sees, and seems to be the whole foundation on which the world is based. Here are all the illusions, all the twisted thoughts, all the insane attacks, the fury, the vengeance and betrayal that were made to keep the guilt in place, so that the world could rise. from it and keep it hidden. Its shadow rises to the surface, enough to hold its most external manifestations in darkness, and to bring despair and loneliness to it and keep it joyless. Yet its intensity is veiled by its heavy coverings, and kept apart from what was made to keep it hidden. The body cannot see this, for the body arose from this for its protection, which depends on keeping it not seen. The body’s eyes will never look on it. Yet they will see what it dictates.

The body will remain guilt’s messenger, and will act as it directs as long as you believe that guilt is real. For the reality of guilt is the illusion that seems to make it heavy and opaque, impenetrable, and a real foundation for the ego’s thought system. Its thinness and transparency are not apparent until you see the light behind it. And then you see it as a fragile veil before the light.

This heavy-seeming barrier, this artificial floor that looks like rock, is like a bank of low dark clouds that seem to be a solid wall before the sun. Its impenetrable appearance is wholly an illusion. It gives way softly to the mountain tops that rise above it, and has no power at all to hold back anyone willing to climb above it and see the sun. It is not strong enough to stop a button’s fall, nor hold a feather. Nothing can rest upon it, for it is but an illusion of a foundation. Try but to touch it and it disappears; attempt to grasp it and your hands hold nothing.

Yet in this cloud bank it is easy to see a whole world rising. A solid mountain range, a lake, a city, all rise in your imagination, and from the clouds the messengers of your perception return to you, assuring you that it is there. Figures stand out and move about, actions seem real, and forms appear and shift from loveliness to the grotesque. And back and forth they go, as long as you would play the game of children’s make-believe. Yet however long you play it, and regardless of how much imagination you bring to it, you do not confuse it with the world below, nor seek to make it real.

So should it be with the dark clouds of guilt, no more impenetrable and no more substantial. You will not bruise yourself against them in travelling through. Let your Guide teach you their insubstantial nature as He leads you past them, for beneath them is a world of light whereon they cast no shadows. Their shadows lie upon the world beyond them, still further from the light. Yet from them to the light their shadows cannot fall.

This world of light, this circle of brightness is the real world, where guilt meets with forgiveness. Here the world outside is seen anew, without the shadow of guilt upon it. Here are you forgiven, for here you have forgiven everyone. Here is the new perception, where everything is bright and shining with innocence, washed in the waters of forgiveness, and cleansed of every evil thought you laid upon it. Here there is no attack upon the Son of God, and you are welcome. Here is your innocence, waiting to clothe you and protect you, and make you ready for the final step in the journey inward. Here are the dark and heavy garments of guilt laid by, and gently replaced by purity and love.

Yet even forgiveness is not the end. Forgiveness does make lovely, but it does not create. It is the source of healing, but it is the messenger of love and not its Source. Here you are led, that God Himself can take the final step unhindered, for here does nothing interfere with love, letting it be itself. A step beyond this holy place of forgiveness, a step still further inward but the one you cannot take, transports you to something completely different. Here is the Source of light; nothing perceived, forgiven nor transformed. But merely known.

This course will lead to knowledge, but knowledge itself is still beyond the scope of our curriculum. Nor is there any need for us to try to speak of what must forever lie beyond words. We need remember only that whoever attains the real world, beyond which learning cannot go, will go beyond it, but in a different way. Where learning ends there God begins, for learning ends before Him Who is complete where He begins, and where there is no end. It is not for us to dwell on what cannot be attained. There is too much to learn. The readiness for knowledge still must be attained.

Love is not learned. Its meaning lies within itself. And learning ends when you have recognised all it is not. That is the interference; that is what needs to be undone. Love is not learned, because there never was a time in which you knew it not. Learning is useless in the Presence of your Creator, Whose acknowledgement of you and yours of Him so far transcend all learning that everything you learned is meaningless, replaced forever by the knowledge of love and its one meaning.

Your relationship with your brother has been uprooted from the world of shadows, and its unholy purpose has been safely brought through the barriers of guilt, washed with forgiveness, and set shining and firmly rooted in the world of light. From there it calls to you to follow the course it took, lifted high above the darkness and gently placed before the gates of Heaven. The holy instant in which you and your brother were united is but the messenger of love, sent from beyond forgiveness to remind you of all that lies beyond it. Yet it is through forgiveness that it will be remembered.

And when the memory of God has come to you in the holy place of forgiveness you will remember nothing else, and memory will be as useless as learning, for your only purpose will be creating. Yet this you cannot know until every perception has been cleansed and purified, and finally removed forever. Forgiveness removes only the untrue, lifting the shadows from the world and carrying it, safe and sure within its gentleness, to the bright world of new and clean perception. There is your purpose now. And it is there that peace awaits you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 3

Lesson 167

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

There are not different kinds of life, for life is like the truth. It does not have degrees. It is the one condition in which all that God created share. Like all His Thoughts, it has no opposite. There is no death because what God created shares His life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are One.

In this world, there appears to be a state that is life’s opposite. You call it death. Yet we have learned that the idea of death takes many forms. It is the one idea which underlies all feelings that are not supremely happy. It is the alarm to which you give response of any kind that is not perfect joy. All sorrow, loss, anxiety and suffering and pain, even a little sigh of weariness, a slight discomfort or the merest frown, acknowledge death. And thus deny you live.

You think that death is of the body. Yet it is but an idea, irrelevant to what is seen as physical. A thought is in the mind. It can be then applied as mind directs it. But its origin is where it must be changed, if change occurs. Ideas leave not their source. The emphasis this course has placed on that idea is due to its centrality in our attempts to change your mind about yourself. It is the reason you can heal. It is the cause of healing. It is why you cannot die. Its truth established you as one with God.

Death is the thought that you are separate from your Creator. It is the belief conditions change, emotions alternate because of causes you cannot control, you did not make, and you can never change. It is the fixed belief ideas can leave their source, and take on qualities the source does not contain, becoming different from their own origin, apart from it in kind as well as distance, time and form.

Death cannot come from life. Ideas remain united to their source. They can extend all that their source contains. In that, they can go far beyond themselves. But they can not give birth to what was never given them. As they are made, so will their making be. As they were born, so will they then give birth. And where they come from, there will they return.

The mind can think it sleeps, but that is all. It cannot change what is its waking state. It cannot make a body, nor abide within a body. What is alien to the mind does not exist, because it has no source. For mind creates all things that are, and cannot give them attributes it lacks, nor change its own eternal, mindful state. It cannot make the physical. What seems to die is but the sign of mind asleep.

The opposite of life can only be another form of life. As such, it can be reconciled with what created it, because it is not opposite in truth. Its form may change; it may appear to be what it is not. Yet mind is mind, awake or sleeping. It is not its opposite in anything created, nor in what it seems to make when it believes it sleeps.

God creates only mind awake. He does not sleep, and His creations cannot share what He gives not, nor make conditions which He does not share with them. The thought of death is not the opposite to thoughts of life. Forever unopposed by opposites of any kind, the Thoughts of God remain forever changeless, with the power to extend forever changelessly, but yet within themselves, for they are everywhere.

What seems to be the opposite of life is merely sleeping. When the mind elects to be what it is not, and to assume an alien power which it does not have, a foreign state it cannot enter, or a false condition not within its Source, it merely seems to go to sleep a while. It dreams of time; an interval in which what seems to happen never has occurred, the changes wrought are substanceless, and all events are nowhere. When the mind awakes, it but continues as it always was.

Let us today be children of the truth, and not deny our holy heritage. Our life is not as we imagine it. Who changes life because he shuts his eyes, or makes himself what he is not because he sleeps, and sees in dreams an opposite to what he is? We will not ask for death in any form today. Nor will we let imagined opposites to life abide even an instant where the Thought of life eternal has been set by God Himself.

His holy home we strive to keep today as He established it, and wills it be forever and forever. He is Lord of what we think today. And in His Thoughts, which have no opposite, we understand there is one life, and that we share with Him, with all creation, with their thoughts as well, whom He created in a unity of life that cannot separate in death and leave the Source of life from where it came.

We share one life because we have one Source, a Source from which perfection comes to us, remaining always in the holy minds which He created perfect. As we were, so are we now and will forever be. A sleeping mind must waken, as it sees its own perfection mirroring the Lord of life so perfectly it fades into what is reflected there. And now it is no more a mere reflection. It becomes the thing reflected, and the light which makes reflection possible. No vision now is needed. For the wakened mind is one that knows its Source, its Self, its Holiness.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #115: I am 50 and going through menopause. There are physical changes going on, especially with my brain chemistry. My emotions are more intense than ever. I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for several years and had felt as if I had reached a certain level of peace and understanding, but now I find myself feeling a victim of my body and more insane than ever. Is this just another level of “development of trust,” and is even menopause about guilt?

 A: The answer to your question lies in understanding the body and the role it plays in the ego thought system. Although we are told repeatedly in the Workbook: “I am not a body” (W.pI.84.1:4), the fact remains we do believe we are bodies, and we have conditions like menopause to prove it. Obviously the ego is the author of this belief. It tells us we somehow ended up in these bodies through no fault of our own, and now we are doomed to fall victim to all its ailments, until in the end we decay, die, and decompose. This message from the ego is purposeful. Its plan is to convince us that the body is real, and the mind is the illusion: “The ego uses the body to conspire against your mind.…The ego, which is not real, attempts to persuade the mind, which is real, that the mind is the ego’s learning device; and further, that the body is more real than the mind is” (T.6.IV.5:1,2,3). The ego has first used the body to house the guilt for having separated from God. Guilt is therefore built into all aspects of the body’s functioning, including menopause. The body is then programmed to provide endless needs, as well as physical, emotional, and psychological conditions that very effectively serve as distractions, and convincing proof of its reality. The inevitable outcome is that we feel victimized and even attacked by the body. This insanity characterizes our relationship with the body, but only when we have chosen to identify with it, seeking to keep ourselves separate, believing all the ego’s lies about who we are. Having made some progress in experiencing peace, it is understandable that the ego would find in menopause a great opportunity to strike again. This is nothing to be concerned with, and definitely nothing to feel guilty about. It is important to remember, however, that it is not helpful to deny any of the distressing symptoms of menopause, and it is certainly appropriate to seek professional medial treatment and support in any way that is helpful. In the process of learning to seek healing in our minds there is the comforting thought that menopause will end, and a beautiful passage in The Song of Prayer that applies especially for women in menopause: “The universe is waiting your release because it is its own. Be kind to it and to yourself, and then be kind to Me. I ask but this; that you be comforted and live no more in terror and in pain. Do not abandon Love. Remember this; whatever you may think about yourself, whatever you may think about the world, your Father needs you and will call to you until you come to Him in peace at last” (S.3.IV.10:3,4,5,6,7).

The Course offers an alternative to the ego’s use of the body, and an alternative to our definition of ourselves. This is where the “development of trust” enters the picture. You can see clearly the tricks the ego is up to, and make a decision to look at menopause differently, believing that what the Course is teaching is in fact true and worthy of trust. All of the symptoms related to menopause can be used as an opportunity to question the ego’s interpretation of this, or any bodily condition. We turn to the mind for true healing in the process of dealing with menopause, monitoring all the thoughts you mention and any others that arise, so they can be given to the Holy Spirit for reinterpretation: “The Holy Spirit, as always, takes what you have made and translates it into a learning device. Again as always, He reinterprets what the ego uses as an argument for separation into a demonstration against it. If the mind can heal the body, but the body cannot heal the mind, then the mind must be stronger than the body. Every miracle demonstrates this” (T.6.V.A.2:4,5,6,7).


Q #116: I am somewhat at odds with the whole idea of God intervening in the world of form. I know that the Foundation’s view is that since the world of form is an illusion, it is inconceivable that He could be involved in making changes and alterations in a world of form. I also know it is all about changing our thoughts about the world to bring us closer to waking. But in lesson 71 “Only God’s plan for salvation will work” it actually has the separated mind ask God, “What would you have me do? Where would you have me go? What would you have me say, and to whom?” Isn’t this asking God what direction you should take in the world of form? I also know that when I relinquish my ego thought and ask God to direct my thoughts then my world of form DOES change. Also how does A Course in Miracles reconcile Jesus being immaculately conceived? Wouldn’t that be considered intervention into the illusion?

A: As discussed elsewhere in these Questions, it is important to recognize that much of the Course is written in metaphorical language, reaching us where we believe we are (e.g., see Question 72). And so God is described throughout the Course in ways that suggest He is concerned about us here in the world, only to provide a correction for our ego belief that God is an angry Father intent on our destruction. And so, rather than as our enemy, the Course is trying to help us view God as our Friend, Who will help us do what we need to do. In addition, it is very common in the Workbook lessons that God is used when the real meaning is God’s Voice, or the Holy Spirit. 

As always, the larger context of the Course and, in this case, the lesson itself make the deeper intent of lines such as those you quote clearer. This lesson first describes the ego’s plan for salvation — holding grievances against others so that the guilt in our mind seems to rest on them rather than on ourselves — the blame game (W.pI.71.2). Clearly, this “solution” is the problem, because it in fact keeps the guilt alive in our minds rather than undoing it. And so God’s (that is, the Holy Spirit’s) plan, although not described specifically in this lesson, will have to involve being willing to release those grievances. Since our anger and judgments are triggered by our interactions with others, the direction to ask God for specific help that you refer to really means that we do not continue to act — doing, going, speaking, etc. — on our own, that is, with the ego’s guidance. If we can carry the memory of God’s Love with us as we move through our day, we can be sure that we will be just where we need to be to learn the lessons of forgiveness that will bring us the peace we seek.  

Now when we release ourselves from the ego’s dictates and open ourselves up to the guidance of God’s Voice, we may experience shifts in our external world, as you mention, although this may not always be the case. These changes occur not because God or the Holy Spirit has literally intervened but rather because we have been willing to make inner choices (often unconscious), aligned with love rather than hate. External projections of our guilt may then very well change, although this is never the purpose, from the Course’s perspective, for changing our teacher. That becomes a trap, rooting our focus back in the world as we look for external changes to validate our inner shift. 

Virgin births and immaculate conceptions do suggest divine interventions in the world of form, but the Jesus of the Course never makes any of these claims about himself. The Bible and traditional Christianity represent a very different spiritual path from the Course and it is best not to confuse the two or try to integrate them in any way.


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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 1

ACIM Text Reading for July 1

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

VI. Beyond the Body

There is nothing outside you. That is what you must ultimately learn, for it is the realisation that the Kingdom of Heaven is restored to you. For God created only this, and He did not depart from it nor leave it separate from Himself. The Kingdom of Heaven is the dwelling place of the Son of God, who left not his Father and dwells not apart from Him. Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this oneness, and nothing else within.

What could God give but knowledge of Himself? What else is there to give? The belief that you could give and get something else, something outside yourself, has cost you the awareness of Heaven and of your Identity. And you have done a stranger thing than you yet realise. You have displaced your guilt to your body from your mind. Yet a body cannot be guilty, for it can do nothing of itself. You who think you hate your body deceive yourself. You hate your mind, for guilt has entered into it, and it would remain separate from your brother’s, which it cannot do.

Minds are joined; bodies are not. Only by assigning to the mind the properties of the body does separation seem to be possible. And it is mind that seems to be fragmented and private and alone. Its guilt, which keeps it separate, is projected to the body, which suffers and dies because it is attacked to hold the separation in the mind, and let it not know its Identity. Mind cannot attack, but it can make fantasies and direct the body to act them out. Yet it is never what the body does that seems to satisfy. Unless the mind believes the body is actually acting out its fantasies, it will attack the body by increasing the projection of its guilt upon it.

In this, the mind is clearly delusional. It cannot attack, but it maintains it can, and uses what it does to hurt the body to prove it can. The mind cannot attack, but it can deceive itself. And this is all it does when it believes it has attacked the body. It can project its guilt, but it will not lose it through projection. And though it clearly can misperceive the function of the body, it cannot change its function from what the Holy Spirit establishes it to be. The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions.

Would you not have the instruments of separation reinterpreted as means for salvation, and used for purposes of love? Would you not welcome and support the shift from fantasies of vengeance to release from them? Your perception of the body can clearly be sick, but project not this upon the body. For your wish to make destructive what cannot destroy can have no real effect at all. What God created is only what He would have it be, being His Will. You cannot make His Will destructive. You can make fantasies in which your will conflicts with His, but that is all.

It is insane to use the body as the scapegoat for guilt, directing its attack and blaming it for what you wished it to do. It is impossible to act out fantasies. For it is still the fantasies you want, and they have nothing to do with what the body does. It does not dream of them, and they but make it a liability where it could be an asset. For fantasies have made your body your ‘enemy’; weak, vulnerable and treacherous, worthy of the hate that you invest in it. How has this served you? You have identified with this thing you hate, the instrument of vengeance and the perceived source of your guilt. You have done this to a thing that has no meaning, proclaiming it to be the dwelling place of God’s Son, and turning it against him.

This is the host of God that you have made. And neither God nor His most holy Son can enter an abode that harbours hate, and where you have sown the seeds of vengeance, violence and death. This thing you made to serve your guilt stands between you and other minds. The minds are joined, but you do not identify with them. You see yourself locked in a separate prison, removed and unreachable, incapable of reaching out as being reached. You hate this prison you have made, and would destroy it. But you would not escape from it, leaving it unharmed, without your guilt upon it.

Yet only thus can you escape. The home of vengeance is not yours; the place you set aside to house your hate is not a prison, but an illusion of yourself. The body is a limit imposed on the universal communication that is an eternal property of mind. But the communication is internal. Mind reaches to itself. It is not made up of different parts, which reach each other. It does not go out. Within itself it has no limits, and there is nothing outside it. It encompasses everything. It encompasses you entirely; you within it and it within you. There is nothing else, anywhere or ever.

The body is outside you, and but seems to surround you, shutting you off from others and keeping you apart from them, and them from you. It is not there. There is no barrier between God and His Son, nor can His Son be separated from himself except in illusions. This is not his reality, though he believes it is. Yet this could only be if God were wrong. God would have had to create differently, and to have separated Himself from His Son to make this possible. He would have had to create different things, and to establish different orders of reality, only some of which were love. Yet love must be forever like itself, changeless forever, and forever without alternative. And so it is. You cannot put a barrier around yourself, because God placed none between Himself and you.

You can stretch out your hand and reach to Heaven. You whose hand is joined with your brother’s have begun to reach beyond the body, but not outside yourself, to reach your shared Identity together. Could This be outside you? Where God is not? Is He a body, and did He create you as He is not, and where He cannot be? You are surrounded only by Him. What limits can there be on you whom He encompasses?

Everyone has experienced what he would call a sense of being transported beyond himself. This feeling of liberation far exceeds the dream of freedom sometimes hoped for in special relationships. It is a sense of actual escape from limitations. If you will consider what this ‘transportation’ really entails, you will realise that it is a sudden unawareness of the body, and a joining of yourself and something else in which your mind enlarges to encompass it. It becomes part of you, as you unite with it. And both become whole, as neither is perceived as separate. What really happens is that you have given up the illusion of a limited awareness, and lost your fear of union. The love that instantly replaces it extends to what has freed you, and unites with it. And while this lasts you are not uncertain of your Identity, and would not limit It. You have escaped from fear to peace, asking no questions of reality, but merely accepting it. You have accepted this instead of the body, and have let yourself be one with something beyond it, simply by not letting your mind be limited by it.

This can occur regardless of the physical distance that seems to be between you and what you join; of your respective positions in space; and of your difference in size and seeming quality. Time is not relevant; it can occur with something past, present or anticipated. The ‘something’ can be anything and anywhere; a sound, a sight, a thought, a memory, and even a general idea without specific reference. Yet in every case, you join it without reservation because you love it, and would be with it. And so you rush to meet it, letting your limits melt away, suspending all the ‘laws’ your body obeys and gently setting them aside.

There is no violence at all in this escape. The body is not attacked, but simply properly perceived. It does not limit you, merely because you would not have it so. You are not really ‘lifted out’ of it; it cannot contain you. You go where you would be, gaining, not losing, a sense of Self. In these instants of release from physical restrictions, you experience much of what happens in the holy instant; the lifting of the barriers of time and space, the sudden experience of peace and joy, and, above all, the lack of awareness of the body, and of the questioning whether or not all this is possible.

It is possible because you want it. The sudden expansion of awareness that takes place with your desire for it is the irresistible appeal the holy instant holds. It calls to you to be yourself, within its safe embrace. There are the laws of limit lifted for you, to welcome you to openness of mind and freedom. Come to this place of refuge, where you can be yourself in peace. Not through destruction, not through a breaking out, but merely by a quiet melting in. For peace will join you there, simply because you have been willing to let go the limits you have placed upon love, and joined it where it is and where it led you, in answer to its gentle call to be at peace.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 1

Lesson 164

Now are we one with Him Who is our Source.

What time but now can truth be recognized? The present is the only time there is. And so today, this instant, now, we come to look upon what is forever there; not in our sight, but in the eyes of Christ. He looks past time, and sees eternity as represented there. He hears the sounds the senseless, busy world engenders, yet He hears them faintly. For beyond them all He hears the song of Heaven, and the Voice for God more clear, more meaningful, more near.

The world fades easily away before His sight. Its sounds grow dim. A melody from far beyond the world increasingly is more and more distinct; an ancient call to which He gives an ancient answer. You will recognize them both, for they are but your answer to your Father’s Call to you. Christ answers for you, echoing your Self, using your voice to give His glad consent; accepting your deliverance for you.

How holy is your practicing today, as Christ gives you His sight and hears for you, and answers in your name the Call He hears! How quiet is the time you give to spend with Him, beyond the world. How easily are all your seeming sins forgot, and all your sorrows unremembered. On this day is grief laid by, for sights and sounds that come from nearer than the world are clear to you who will today accept the gifts He gives.

There is a silence into which the world can not intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. There is a sense of holiness in you the thought of sin has never touched. All this today you will remember. Faithfulness in practicing today will bring rewards so great and so completely different from all things you sought before, that you will know that here your treasure is, and here your rest.

This is the day when vain imaginings part like a curtain, to reveal what lies beyond them. Now is what is really there made visible, while all the shadows which appeared to hide it merely sink away. Now is the balance righted, and the scale of judgment left to Him Who judges true. And in His judgment will a world unfold in perfect innocence before your eyes. Now will you see it with the eyes of Christ. Now is its transformation clear to you.

Brother, this day is sacred to the world. Your vision, given you from far beyond all things within the world, looks back on them in a new light. And what you see becomes the healing and salvation of the world. The valuable and valueless are both perceived and recognized for what they are. And what is worthy of your love receives your love, while nothing to be feared remains.

We will not judge today. We will receive but what is given us from judgment made beyond the world. Our practicing today becomes our gift of thankfulness for our release from blindness and from misery. All that we see will but increase our joy, because its holiness reflects our own. We stand forgiven in the sight of Christ, with all the world forgiven in our own. We bless the world, as we behold it in the light in which our Savior looks on us, and offer it the freedom given us through His forgiving vision, not our own.

Open the curtain in your practicing by merely letting go all things you think you want. Your trifling treasures put away, and leave a clean and open space within your mind where Christ can come, and offer you the treasure of salvation. He has need of your most holy mind to save the world. Is not this purpose worthy to be yours? Is not Christ’s vision worthy to be sought above the world’s unsatisfying goals?

Let not today slip by without the gifts it holds for you receiving your consent and your acceptance. We can change the world, if you acknowledge them. You may not see the value your acceptance gives the world. But this you surely want; you can exchange all suffering for joy this very day. Practice in earnest, and the gift is yours. Would God deceive you? Can His promise fail? Can you withhold so little, when His Hand holds out complete salvation to His Son?

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #456: This is a three part question:

i. My understanding of the teachings of A Course in Miracles is that eventually we realize we are all one spirit. Do we then lose our awareness or memory of the experiences we had as individuals? Jesus figured out the truth while here on earth, yet seems to interact with those of us still experiencing the dream of individuality as the individual Jesus. So will the rest of us, after we realize the truth, still retain our individual selves? I realize I am asking this question as someone who likes my “self” and the other selves I interact with, i.e., family and friends.

A: Your awareness of yourself as an individual will last only as long as you value that identity. It is never taken away by Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The focus of our study and practice is learning that our interests are really the same, not separate; and that would lead us to the next step, which is recognizing that not only do we share the same interests, but we share the same self as well. We all share the same ego thought system, and we all share the same right-minded thought system of forgiveness, as well as the power to choose between the two. As long as we are attracted to an identity as an individual self, though, we will resist this teaching rather strenuously. There would have to be some motivation to move beyond individuality, and what Jesus teaches us is that if we looked deeply and honestly at our lives as individual selves, we would conclude that we are paying a heavy price to sustain that existence. That does not mean it is bad or wrong to enjoy existing in this world. He asks only that we look openly at the picture, and not be deceived by the glitter of the frame (T.17.IV.8,9)“The body is a limit on love” (T.18.VIII.1:2). So valuing bodily existence is valuing limited love. That is the connection Jesus wants us to make, just so that we could be aware that we are deliberately (once we remember we are decision-making minds) cutting ourselves off from the totality of the love that comes with the memory of our oneness as God’s Son. Again, liking your self and your family and friends is not wrong or bad; just be aware that this is not all you are or they are. If living in this world is working for you and you are happy and content with it, then it would be foolish to change it. Recall that the Course came to two people who were no longer content with the way things were going and were determined to find a “better way.”

Jesus stands outside the dream of individuality gently helping us to awaken from it. He appears to be an individual relating to us as individuals, but if you consider the above quote about the body being a limit on love, you can begin to understand that he appears that way because we choose to see him that way. Love is abstract — formless — but our perception conforms to our identity. Were we to let go of the need to limit love, we would experience Jesus quite differently — and ourselves as well. The trouble is, we don’t consciously realize that this is what we are doing, which is why so much of the Course is directed at helping us realize that we have a mind and that practically everything we do is a defense against our realizing that. We don’t want to remember we are decision-making minds, because on some level we know where that realization would take us. We would eventually see clearly what individuality is all about, and it would not be a very pretty picture. To avoid those consequences, we try to make Jesus like us, but that will never square with what he spends so much time teaching us in the Course. It is much more helpful, and would reduce the internal conflict, to state simply and honestly, that you like being a self amidst other individual selves, and that some day you may have a reason to reconsider that choice, but right now you don’t. Period! That’s where you are, and it’s okay. Jesus’ love for you is not lessened in the least.

ii. What are our real creations? Are they what are left when we awake from the dream? Are we creating even as we dream?

A: Please see Question #103 for the definition of creations. Nothing real ever takes places in the dream. The Self that never left Its Source continually creates, which means simply that love always extends itself.

iii. If it only takes one to awake from the dream for all to awake and one cannot find Atonement alone and Jesus achieved this, why are the rest of us still dreaming?

A: From our perspective within the dream, there is no way of our comprehending this process; it cannot be solved through logical reasoning. Our framework for understanding is severely limited, because we believe we are actually here, and that belief is intended to push truth away and replace it with another system of thought that is entirely false. Very humbling! It is virtually impossible for us not to think in terms of separate bodies in time and space, but Jesus is not referring to bodies in time and space. Nevertheless, we can say at least this much — that there is one mind, and the illusion of many minds, all asleep and dreaming. When you are in the real world you know there is only one mind. So the only mind that needs to awaken is yours.


Q #457: I have been studying A Course in Miracles since 1977, and although I understand the theory, I unfortunately cannot translate the theory into my life situations. By a series of circumstances I am at the point of ruin and bankruptcy. I read the Lesson that tells me to step back and let the spirit lead the way. How do you do that? How do you know that it is the spirit? I try to let it lead yet I must be doing something wrong because here I stand at the edge.

A. We easily fall into the trap of believing that the Holy Spirit’s answer to our call for help would be a change in the external situation — the world or the body. We forget that problems in our bodies and the world are the effect; and the cause is our belief that we separated from God and destroyed love to achieve that separation. Thus in Chapter 27, Jesus reminds us that the Holy Spirit “looks not to effects.…He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while. You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed. Perhaps you come in tears. But hear him say, ‘My brother, holy Son of God, behold your idle dream, in which this could occur.’ And you will leave the holy instant with your laughter and your brother’s joined with His” (T.27.VIII.9:1,3,4,5,6,7,8).

Understandably, this may not be very consoling when you are on the verge of ruin, and you would much prefer that the Holy Spirit intervene to make things better for you in the world. He can’t, because He doesn’t see a world. He would help you get to the point where you share that perception with Him, so that you would be at peace regardless of what seems to be happening outside you. The problem is we don’t realize — and probably don’t believe — that what Jesus and the Holy Spirit say is outside us is really outside us. We think that this is really usThey know it’s not! How better could He help us, then, than to teach us how to begin the process of disidentifying with our identities as part of the world; and what better time to do that than when we are deeply troubled by problems in the world and our bodies. Challenging, yes; and seemingly impossible, yes. But that is what this Course is about. And that does not mean that you should not do everything you possibly can to rectify the financial situation — consulting a financial advisor, etc.

Jesus assures us many times, that if we walk our path with the willingness to grow to value nothing but his love, and to accept that as our identity, we can go through the most horrendous (from the world’s point of view) situations and still be at peace within. That is not easy, and it means letting go of any investment in having the problem in the world be solved in a particular way.

You but mistake interpretation

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 29

ACIM Text Reading for June 29

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

IV. The Little Willingness

The holy instant is the result of your determination to be holy. It is the answer. The desire and the willingness to let it come precede its coming. You prepare your mind for it only to the extent of recognising that you want it above all else. It is not necessary that you do more; indeed, it is necessary that you realise that you cannot do more. Do not attempt to give the Holy Spirit what He does not ask, or you will add the ego to Him and confuse the two. He asks but little. It is He Who adds the greatness and the might. He joins with you to make the holy instant far greater than you can understand. It is your realisation that you need do so little that enables Him to give so much.

Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough. But trust implicitly your willingness, whatever else may enter. Concentrate only on this, and be not disturbed that shadows surround it. That is why you came. If you could come without them you would not need the holy instant. Come to it not in arrogance, assuming that you must achieve the state its coming brings with it. The miracle of the holy instant lies in your willingness to let it be what it is. And in your willingness for this lies also your acceptance of yourself as you were meant to be.

Humility will never ask that you remain content with littleness. But it does require that you be not content with less than greatness that comes not of you. Your difficulty with the holy instant arises from your fixed conviction that you are not worthy of it. And what is this but the determination to be as you would make yourself? God did not create His dwelling place unworthy of Him. And if you believe He cannot enter where He wills to be, you must be interfering with His Will. You do not need the strength of willingness to come from you, but only from His Will.

The holy instant does not come from your little willingness alone. It is always the result of your small willingness combined with the unlimited power of God’s Will. You have been wrong in thinking that it is needful to prepare yourself for Him. It is impossible to make arrogant preparations for holiness, and not believe that it is up to you to establish the conditions for peace. God has established them. They do not wait upon your willingness for what they are. Your willingness is needed only to make it possible to teach you what they are. If you maintain you are unworthy of learning this, you are interfering with the lesson by believing that you must make the learner different. You did not make the learner, nor can you make him different. Would you first make a miracle yourself, and then expect one to be made for you?

You merely ask the question. The answer is given. Seek not to answer, but merely to receive the answer as it is given. In preparing for the holy instant, do not attempt to make yourself holy to be ready to receive it. That is but to confuse your role with God’s. Atonement cannot come to those who think that they must first atone; but only to those who offer it nothing more than simple willingness to make way for it. Purification is of God alone, and therefore for you. Rather than seek to prepare yourself for Him, try to think thus:

I who am host to God am worthy of Him.
He Who established His dwelling place in me created it as He would have it be.
It is not needful that I make it ready for Him, but only that I do not interfere with His plan to restore to me my own awareness of my readiness, which is eternal.
I need add nothing to His plan.
But to receive it, I must be willing not to substitute my own in place of it.

And that is all. Add more, and you will merely take away the little that is asked. Remember you made guilt, and that your plan for the escape from guilt has been to bring Atonement to it, and make salvation fearful. And it is only fear that you will add, if you prepare yourself for love. The preparation for the holy instant belongs to Him Who gives it. Release yourself to Him Whose function is release. Do not assume His function for Him. Give Him but what He asks, that you may learn how little is your part, and how great is His.

It is this that makes the holy instant so easy and so natural. You make it difficult, because you insist there must be more that you need do. You find it difficult to accept the idea that you need give so little, to receive so much. And it is very hard for you to realise it is not personally insulting that your contribution and the Holy Spirit’s are so extremely disproportionate. You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is. Yet we have emphasised that you need understand nothing. Salvation is easy just because it asks nothing you cannot give right now.

Forget not that it has been your decision to make everything that is natural and easy for you impossible. If you believe the holy instant is difficult for you, it is because you have become the arbiter of what is possible, and remain unwilling to give place to One Who knows. The whole belief in orders of difficulty in miracles is centred on this. Everything God wills is not only possible, but has already happened. And that is why the past has gone. It never happened in reality. Only in your mind, which thought it did, is its undoing needful.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 29

Lesson 162

I am as God created me.

This single thought, held firmly in the mind, would save the world. From time to time we will repeat it, as we reach another stage in learning. It will mean far more to you as you advance. These words are sacred, for they are the words God gave in answer to the world you made. By them it disappears, and all things seen within its misty clouds and vaporous illusions vanish as these words are spoken. For they come from God.

Here is the Word by which the Son became his Father’s happiness, His Love and His completion. Here creation is proclaimed, and honored as it is. There is no dream these words will not dispel; no thought of sin and no illusion which the dream contains that will not fade away before their might. They are the trumpet of awakening that sounds around the world. The dead awake in answer to its call. And those who live and hear this sound will never look on death.

Holy indeed is he who makes these words his own; arising with them in his mind, recalling them throughout the day, at night bringing them with him as he goes to sleep. His dreams are happy and his rest secure, his safety certain and his body healed, because he sleeps and wakens with the truth before him always. He will save the world, because he gives the world what he receives each time he practices the words of truth.

Today we practice simply. For the words we use are mighty, and they need no thoughts beyond themselves to change the mind of him who uses them. So wholly is it changed that it is now the treasury in which God places all His gifts and all His Love, to be distributed to all the world, increased in giving; kept complete because its sharing is unlimited. And thus you learn to think with God. Christ’s vision has restored your sight by salvaging your mind.

We honor you today. Yours is the right to perfect holiness you now accept. With this acceptance is salvation brought to everyone, for who could cherish sin when holiness like this has blessed the world? Who could despair when perfect joy is yours, available to all as remedy for grief and misery, all sense of loss, and for complete escape from sin and guilt?

And who would not be brother to you now; you, his redeemer and his savior. Who could fail to welcome you into his heart with loving invitation, eager to unite with one like him in holiness? You are as God created you. These words dispel the night, and darkness is no more. The light is come today to bless the world. For you have recognized the Son of God, and in that recognition is the world’s.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #161: Why is the message of Jesus in A Course in Miracles so different than that of His mother the Virgin Mary in all her apparitions throughout the last century? In her message God is aware of what goes on in this world, and does punish the unfaithful.

A: The people who have experienced apparitions of Mary have heard a message that is compatible with their religious beliefs. In many cases, they are fervent believers with traditional theological views. The two points you mention, that God is aware of happenings in this world, and punishes the unfaithful, are beliefs held by many Christians. For believers, a religious experience such as an apparition by a spiritual being like Mary, deepens and validates their faith. Love would not challenge their belief system, by introducing unfamiliar concepts from a different path, such as A Course in Miracles. As you may know, the Course is a spiritual teaching that is not based on the Bible or traditional Christian or Catholic theology. Although it uses Christian terms, their meaning in the Course is different. However, both Mary’s message, and the message of A Course in Miracles can be experienced as loving and helpful teachings for their respective followers. They may be similar in content though not at all similar in form. In form they are, as you say, very different. That is because they are two very different spiritual thought systems with different theological beliefs. It is important to remember that thoughts and beliefs are not truth; they are expressions or reflections of it. Jesus and Mary represent a truth that is beyond any of the forms that may give it expression. Truth uses different forms, at different times, for different people. This does not contradict the content of the message, the purpose of which is to lead us back to our home in God. As we are told in the Course: “Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one. Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change. But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal” (C.5.1:3,4,5).

Neither the theological views nor the specific beliefs is what is important. What matters is the love that is being expressed by a spiritual teacher, and the helpfulness of the teaching. If our concern is that God be sure to punish the unfaithful, we are missing the point ourselves. The important thing is that we be faithful to the beliefs taught by our spiritual path, with a fervent desire to return to God. If a person accepts the love that inspires their specific religious belief system and learns to truly live that love themselves, in the end it does not matter whether they began their journey out of fear of God’s punishment, or because they were seeking God’s peace. It is the experience that is important. The Course tells us: “A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary” (C.in.2:5). There are many paths, many faiths, many forms of expression, but one truth, one God.


Q #162: What does A Course in Miracles mean when it says the “mind cannot attack” (T.18.VI.3,4)? I seem to have attack thoughts directed at others, in fact hateful thoughts. If this is not my mind attacking, what is it?

A) The meaning of this statement, in the context of the entire section, “Beyond the Body,” is that attack is possible only in fantasy or in a delusional state. God cannot be attacked in reality. The separation would have to be a fact in order for the mind to be able to attack. That is why there is so much emphasis in the Course on bringing the illusion to the truth, and bringing the darkness to the light. We bring our attack thoughts to Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our minds, where we can learn that they come from an illusory thought system and have no effect outside this illusory thought system.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 27

ACIM Text Reading for June 27

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

II. The Basis of the Dream

Does not a world that seems quite real arise in dreams? Yet think what this world is. It is clearly not the world you saw before you slept. Rather it is a distortion of the world, planned solely around what you would have preferred. Here, you are ‘free’ to make over whatever seemed to attack you, and change it into a tribute to your ego, which was outraged by the ‘attack’. This would not be your wish unless you saw yourself as one with the ego, which always looks upon itself, and therefore on you, as under attack and highly vulnerable to it.

Dreams are chaotic because they are governed by your conflicting wishes, and therefore they have no concern with what is true. They are the best example you could have of how perception can be utilised to substitute illusions for truth. You do not take them seriously on awaking because the fact that reality is so outrageously violated in them becomes apparent. Yet they are a way of looking at the world, and changing it to suit the ego better. They provide striking examples, both of the ego’s inability to tolerate reality, and of your willingness to change reality on its behalf.

You do not find the differences between what you see in sleep and on awaking disturbing. You recognise that what you see on waking is blotted out in dreams. Yet on awakening, you do not expect it to be gone. In dreams you arrange everything. People become what you would have them be, and what they do you order. No limits on substitution are laid upon you. For a time it seems as if the world were given you, to make it what you wish. You do not realise you are attacking it, trying to triumph over it and make it serve you.

Dreams are perceptual temper tantrums, in which you literally scream, ‘I want it thus!’ And thus it seems to be. And yet the dream cannot escape its origin. Anger and fear pervade it, and in an instant the illusion of satisfaction is invaded by the illusion of terror. For the dream of your ability to control reality by substituting a world that you prefer is terrifying. Your attempts to blot out reality are very fearful, but this you are not willing to accept. And so you substitute the fantasy that reality is fearful, not what you would do to it. And thus is guilt made real.

Dreams show you that you have the power to make a world as you would have it be, and that because you want it you see it. And while you see it you do not doubt that it is real. Yet here is a world, clearly within your mind, that seems to be outside. You do not respond to it as though you made it, nor do you realise that the emotions the dream produces must come from you. It is the figures in the dream and what they do that seem to make the dream. You do not realise that you are making them act out for you, for if you did the guilt would not be theirs, and the illusions of satisfaction would be gone. In dreams these features are not obscure. You seem to waken; and the dream is gone. Yet what you fail to recognise is that what caused the dream has not gone with it. Your wish to make another world that is not real remains with you. And what you seem to waken to is but another form of this same world you see in dreams. All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it. In your waking dreams, the special relationship has a special place. It is the means by which you try to make your sleeping dreams come true. From this, you do not waken. The special relationship is your determination to keep your hold on unreality, and to prevent yourself from waking. And while you see more value in sleeping than in waking, you will not let go of it.

The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as means for waking. You would have used them to remain asleep. I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams. That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship. He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you. But He does use it differently, as a help to make His purpose real to you. The special relationship will remain, not as a source of pain and guilt, but as a source of joy and freedom. It will not be for you alone, for therein lay its misery. As its unholiness kept it a thing apart, its holiness will become an offering to everyone.

Your special relationship will be a means for undoing guilt in everyone blessed through your holy relationship. It will be a happy dream, and one which you will share with all who come within your sight. Through it, the blessing the Holy Spirit has laid upon it will be extended. Think not that He has forgotten anyone in the purpose He has given you. And think not that He has forgotten you to whom He gave the gift. He uses everyone who calls on Him as means for the salvation of everyone. And He will waken everyone through you who offered your relationship to Him. If you but recognised His gratitude! Or mine through His! For we are joined as in one purpose, being of one mind with Him.

Let not the dream take hold to close your eyes. It is not strange that dreams can make a world that is unreal. It is the wish to make it that is incredible. Your relationship with your brother has now become one in which the wish has been removed, because its purpose has been changed from one of dreams to one of truth. You are not sure of this because you think it may be this that is the dream. You are so used to choosing among dreams you do not see that you have made, at last, the choice between the truth and allillusions.

Yet Heaven is sure. This is no dream. Its coming means that you have chosen truth, and it has come because you have been willing to let your special relationship meet its conditions. In your relationship the Holy Spirit has gently laid the real world; the world of happy dreams, from which awaking is so easy and so natural. For as your sleeping and your waking dreams represent the same wishes in your mind, so do the real world and the truth of Heaven join in the Will of God. The dream of waking is easily transferred to its reality. For this dream reflects your will joined with the Will of God. And what this Will would have accomplished has never not been done.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 27

Lesson 160

I am at home. Fear is the stranger here.

Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself. And thus you are unknown to you. What is your Self remains an alien to the part of you which thinks that it is real, but different from yourself. Who could be sane in such a circumstance? Who but a madman could believe he is what he is not, and judge against himself?

There is a stranger in our midst, who comes from an idea so foreign to the truth he speaks a different language, looks upon a world truth does not know, and understands what truth regards as senseless. Stranger yet, he does not recognize to whom he comes, and yet maintains his home belongs to him, while he is alien now who is at home. And yet, how easy it would be to say, “This is my home. Here I belong, and will not leave because a madman says I must.”

What reason is there for not saying this? What could the reason be except that you had asked this stranger in to take your place, and let you be a stranger to yourself? No one would let himself be dispossessed so needlessly, unless he thought there were another home more suited to his tastes.

Who is the stranger? Is it fear or you who are unsuited to the home which God provided for His Son? Is fear His Own, created in His likeness? Is it fear that love completes, and is completed by? There is no home can shelter love and fear. They cannot coexist. If you are real, then fear must be illusion. And if fear is real, then you do not exist at all.

How simply, then, the question is resolved. Who fears has but denied himself and said, “I am the stranger here. And so I leave my home to one more like me than myself, and give him all I thought belonged to me.” Now is he exiled of necessity, not knowing who he is, uncertain of all things but this; that he is not himself, and that his home has been denied to him.

What does he search for now? What can he find? A stranger to himself can find no home wherever he may look, for he has made return impossible. His way is lost, except a miracle will search him out and show him that he is no stranger now. The miracle will come. For in his home his Self remains. It asked no stranger in, and took no alien thought to be Itself. And It will call Its Own unto Itself in recognition of what is Its Own.

Who is the stranger? Is he not the one your Self calls not? You are unable now to recognize this stranger in your midst, for you have given him your rightful place. Yet is your Self as certain of Its Own as God is of His Son. He cannot be confused about creation. He is sure of what belongs to Him. No stranger can be interposed between His knowledge and His Son’s reality. He does not know of strangers. He is certain of His Son.

God’s certainty suffices. Who He knows to be His Son belongs where He has set His Son forever. He has answered you who ask, “Who is the stranger?” Hear His Voice assure you, quietly and sure, that you are not a stranger to your Father, nor is your Creator stranger made to you. Whom God has joined remain forever one, at home in Him, no stranger to Himself.

Today we offer thanks that Christ has come to search the world for what belongs to Him. His vision sees no strangers, but beholds His Own and joyously unites with them. They see Him as a stranger, for they do not recognize themselves. Yet as they give Him welcome, they remember. And He leads them gently home again, where they belong.

Not one does Christ forget. Not one He fails to give you to remember, that your home may be complete and perfect as it was established. He has not forgotten you. But you will not remember Him until you look on all as He does. Who denies his brother is denying Him, and thus refusing to accept the gift of sight by which his Self is clearly recognized, his home remembered and salvation come.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #339: There are two quotations (among many) in the workbook of A Course in Miracles which have puzzled me for a very long time. I would appreciate some clarification. (1) “You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision…..As we go along, you may have many ‘light episodes'” (W.pI.15.2:2;3:1). I have been doing this material for years and know a great many people who have also, and no one I know has had such an experience, although I have had some wondrous experiences. (2) “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.” W.pI.157.7:3. I assume this means when we leave the body, but in what form will we reappear?

A: (1) This passage has been troubling to many students. It seems to suggest that a mark of spiritual progress is seeing edges of light around objects, such as auras. If this were the literal meaning, it would go against everything else the Course teaches. Jesus, as we know, stresses that all perception is unreal. In the text he says that however holy visions may be, they do not last because they are based on perception (T.3.III.4:6)Light is a symbol; it is not a perceptual thing. Perceiving light outside you symbolizes the release of some of the darkness in your mind and allowing more of the light to come through. When the Course talks about the light in us, it is not talking about an electric light bulb, an aura, or anything that we actually perceive. Light traditionally has been a symbol used in spirituality to denote God, life, truth, etc. So A Course in Miracles uses that same imagery. Darkness refers to the darkness of guilt and of being separate from God; light refers to the undoing all of that, along with feeling God’s Presence and His love.

This passage originally had nothing to do with the Course itself. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford had a close friend who worked with them at the Medical Center — he was the only person they shared the Course with right from the beginning. From time to time he would wake up in the middle of the night and feel and see light all around him. He was terrified by these episodes. So this was Jesus’ way of telling him that everything was all right when he had those light episodes. (See Absence from Felicity, p. 304.) That is why this passage appears. Kenneth has felt that there should have been a footnote or some explanation to that effect. In any case, it should not be taken to mean that if you don’t see light that you are a spiritual failure. It can be taken to mean rather that when you forgive more, there will be more “light” in your mind, which means that that light will be extended. Then you will perceive the world as a “lightened” place, in the sense that the burden of guilt will no longer be upon it. Some people actually perceive light physically. But that should be understood only as a symbol — one of many, many symbols — of the process of healing within their own minds.

(2) Similarly, the passage in Lesson 157 was originally meant for Helen Schucman herself. Kenneth comments in Absence from Felicity: “On a number of occasions Helen mentioned to me that Jesus told her that the ‘next time you come you would be different,’ reminiscent of the lines in Lesson 157…Incidentally, this was one of Helen’s favorite lessons. Her understanding of these lines, even though the subject of reincarnation usually made her very uncomfortable, was that the next time she ‘came’ — her next life — she would be ego-free, as was the priestess of her vision” (p. 476).

So this passage can be understood to mean that when the purpose of forgiveness is fulfilled, we shall have no further need of the body as a classroom. We shall have remembered who we are as God’s one Son as we enter into the real world. When we next appear in the body, we would obviously be different because the thought in our minds would be different. The body would not be our classroom but solely a means through which the Holy Spirit can communicate His message of healing and forgiveness. Jesus speaks of “Teachers of teachers” in this manner: “…although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon. And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so” (M.26.2:2,3).
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Q #1317 : The answer to Question #898 said: “Love is in the director’s seat now, not you as an individual.” In my view, this seems to be in contradiction to what is said in Lesson 154 concerning the messengers of God and their messages: that they “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” (W.pI.154.7:2,3,4). As I see it, the messenger has an active role here. How are these two ideas related?

A: Different points are being made in the material you quote, but the content is the same. The point that is stressed in Question #898 is that when you let go of the ego, you are aware that you are not the individual self that you thought you were and that was always defining both the problem and the solution. When you let go of the ego, there is nothing left in your mind but love, and then your perception is identical with the Holy Spirit’s. You are aligned with truth, not illusion.

In Lesson 154, Jesus is making a different, though related, point; and that is that our only function is to accept the Atonement through the practice of forgiveness. As “ministers,” we cannot truly bring Jesus’ message of forgiveness to the world without first having accepted it ourselves, because in A Course in Miracles giving and receiving are the same. This is in contrast to the world’s view, where the role of messengers is just to deliver messages to other people; the delivery of the message is just an external event. Jesus is teaching us that if we want to receive God’s Love, we must give It — meaning we must come to recognize that we all share the same interests, and, ultimately, the same Self. I remember my true Identity as Christ only when I see that same Identity as defining everyone else. This is all about content, not form.

The way we are “active,” thus, is by choosing to be taught by the teacher of forgiveness and oneness, not by the teacher of conflict and separation. We then become the message, just as Jesus tells us that “to teach is to demonstrate” (M.in.2:1) . Again, this is only about what is going on in our minds (content), not behavior (form). I cannot experience the Love of God in myself if I am judging even one other person as not worthy of that Love, because what is inherently all-inclusive cannot be known through exclusion. We are active in our minds, thus; and then that content will be expressed in our interactions. In the end, then, the two statements convey the same content.

i-am-here-only-meditation-6

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 26

ACIM Text Reading for June 26

Chapter 18

THE PASSING OF THE DREAM

I. The Substitute Reality

To substitute is to accept instead. If you would but consider exactly what this entails, you would perceive at once how much at variance this is with the goal the Holy Spirit has given you, and would accomplish for you. To substitute is to choose between, renouncing one aspect of the Sonship in favour of the other. For this special purpose, one is judged more valuable and the other is replaced by him. The relationship in which the substitution occurred is thus fragmented, and its purpose split accordingly. To fragment is to exclude, and substitution is the strongest defence the ego has for separation.

The Holy Spirit never uses substitutes. Where the ego perceives one person as a replacement for another, the Holy Spirit sees them joined and indivisible. He does not judge between them, knowing they are one. Being united, they are one because they are the same. Substitution is clearly a process in which they are perceived as different. One would unite; the other separate. Nothing can come between what God has joined and what the Holy Spirit sees as one. But everything seems to come between the fragmented relationships the ego sponsors to destroy.

The one emotion in which substitution is impossible is love. Fear involves substitution by definition, for it is love’s replacement. Fear is both a fragmented and fragmenting emotion. It seems to take many forms, and each one seems to require a different form of acting out for satisfaction. While this appears to introduce quite variable behaviour, a far more serious effect lies in the fragmented perception from which the behaviour stems. No one is seen complete. The body is emphasised, with special emphasis on certain parts, and used as the standard for comparison of acceptance or rejection for acting out a special form of fear.

You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms, because it was the substitution of illusion for truth; of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to, time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship that you have ever made is part of it.

You may be surprised to hear how very different is reality from what you see. You do not realise the magnitude of that one error. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge. What else could come of it? Its fragmented aspects are fearful enough, as you begin to look at them. But nothing you have seen begins to show you the enormity of the original error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and to force you to make further substitutions.

That was the first projection of error outward. The world arose to hide it, and became the screen on which it was projected and drawn between you and the truth. For truth extends inward, where the idea of loss is meaningless and only increase is conceivable. Do you really think it strange that a world in which everything is backwards and upside down arose from this projection of error? It was inevitable. For truth brought to this could only remain within in quiet, and take no part in all the mad projection by which this world was made. Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it.

When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error rising to frighten you, say only, ‘God is not fear, but love’, and it will disappear. The truth will save you. It has not left you, to go out into the mad world and so depart from you. Inward is sanity; insanity is outside you. You but believe it is the other way; that truth is outside, and error and guilt within. Your little, senseless substitutions, touched with insanity and swirling lightly off on a mad course like feathers dancing insanely in the wind, have no substance. They fuse and merge and separate, in shifting and totally meaningless patterns that need not be judged at all. To judge them individually is pointless. Their tiny differences in form are no real differences at all. None of them matters. That they have in common and nothing else. Yet what else is necessary to make them all the same?

Let them all go, dancing in the wind, dipping and turning till they disappear from sight, far, far outside of you. And turn you to the stately calm within, where in holy stillness dwells the living God you never left, and Who never left you. The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand, and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within. He brings all your insane projections and the wild substitutions that you have placed outside you to the truth. Thus He reverses the course of insanity and restores you to reason.

In your relationship with your brother, where He has taken charge of everything at your request, He has set the course inward to the truth you share. In the mad world outside you nothing can be shared but only substituted, and sharing and substituting have nothing in common in reality. Within yourself you love your brother with a perfect love. Here is holy ground, in which no substitution can enter, and where only the truth in your brother can abide. Here you are joined in God, as much together as you are with Him. The original error has not entered here, nor ever will. Here is the radiant truth, to which the Holy Spirit has committed your relationship. Let Him bring it here, where you would have it be. Give Him but a little faith in your brother, to help him show you that no substitute you made for Heaven can keep you from it.

In you there is no separation, and no substitute can keep you from your brother. Your reality was God’s creation, and has no substitute. You are so firmly joined in truth that only God is there. And He would never accept something else instead of you. He loves you both, equally and as one. And as He loves you, so you are. You are not joined together in illusions, but in the Thought so holy and so perfect that illusions cannot remain to darken the holy place in which you stand together. God is with you, my brother. Let us join in Him in peace and gratitude, and accept His gift as our most holy and perfect reality, which we share in Him.

Heaven is restored to all the Sonship through your relationship, for in it lies the Sonship, whole and beautiful, safe in your love. Heaven has entered quietly, for all illusions have been gently brought unto the truth in you, and love has shined upon you, blessing your relationship with truth. God and His whole creation have entered it together. How lovely and how holy is your relationship, with the truth shining upon it! Heaven beholds it, and rejoices that you have let it come to you. And God Himself is glad that your relationship is as it was created. The universe within you stands with you, together with your brother. And Heaven looks with love on what is joined in it, along with its Creator.

Whom God has called should hear no substitutes. Their call is but an echo of the original error that shattered Heaven. And what became of peace in those who heard? Return with me to Heaven, walking together with your brother out of this world and through another, to the loveliness and joy the other holds within it. Would you still further, weaken and break apart what is already broken and hopeless? Is it here that you would look for happiness? Or would you not prefer to heal what has been broken, and join in making whole what has been ravaged by separation and disease?

You have been called, together with your brother, to the most holy function this world contains. It is the only one that has no limits, and reaches out to every broken fragment of the Sonship with healing and uniting comfort. This is offered you, in your holy relationship. Accept it here, and you will give as you have accepted. The peace of God is given you with the glowing purpose in which you join with your brother. The holy light that brought you and him together must extend, as you accepted it.

***

ACIM Workbook lesson for June 26

Lesson 159

I give the miracles I have received.

No one can give what he has not received. To give a thing requires first you have it in your own possession. Here the laws of Heaven and the world agree. But here they also separate. The world believes that to possess a thing, it must be kept. Salvation teaches otherwise. To give is how to recognize you have received. It is the proof that what you have is yours.

You understand that you are healed when you give healing. You accept forgiveness as accomplished in yourself when you forgive. You recognize your brother as yourself, and thus do you perceive that you are whole. There is no miracle you cannot give, for all are given you. Receive them now by opening the storehouse of your mind where they are laid, and giving them away.

Christ’s vision is a miracle. It comes from far beyond itself, for it reflects eternal love and the rebirth of love which never dies, but has been kept obscure. Christ’s vision pictures Heaven, for it sees a world so like to Heaven that what God created perfect can be mirrored there. The darkened glass the world presents can show but twisted images in broken parts. The real world pictures Heaven’s innocence.

Christ’s vision is the miracle in which all miracles are born. It is their source, remaining with each miracle you give, and yet remaining yours. It is the bond by which the giver and receiver are united in extension here on earth, as they are one in Heaven. Christ beholds no sin in anyone. And in His sight the sinless are as one. Their holiness was given by His Father and Himself.

Christ’s vision is the bridge between the worlds. And in its power can you safely trust to carry you from this world into one made holy by forgiveness. Things which seem quite solid here are merely shadows there; transparent, faintly seen, at times forgot, and never able to obscure the light that shines beyond them. Holiness has been restored to vision, and the blind can see.

This is the Holy Spirit’s single gift; the treasure house to which you can appeal with perfect certainty for all the things that can contribute to your happiness. All are laid here already. All can be received but for the asking. Here the door is never locked, and no one is denied his least request or his most urgent need. There is no sickness not already healed, no lack unsatisfied, no need unmet within this golden treasury of Christ.

Here does the world remember what was lost when it was made. For here it is repaired, made new again, but in a different light. What was to be the home of sin becomes the center of redemption and the hearth of mercy, where the suffering are healed and welcome. No one will be turned away from this new home, where his salvation waits. No one is stranger to him. No one asks for anything of him except the gift of his acceptance of his welcoming.

Christ’s vision is the holy ground in which the lilies of forgiveness set their roots. This is their home. They can be brought from here back to the world, but they can never grow in its unnourishing and shallow soil. They need the light and warmth and kindly care Christ’s charity provides. They need the love with which He looks on them. And they become His messengers, who give as they received.

Take from His storehouse, that its treasures may increase. His lilies do not leave their home when they are carried back into the world. Their roots remain. They do not leave their source, but carry its beneficence with them, and turn the world into a garden like the one they came from, and to which they go again with added fragrance. Now are they twice blessed. The messages they brought from Christ have been delivered, and returned to them. And they return them gladly unto Him.

Behold the store of miracles set out for you to give. Are you not worth the gift, when God appointed it be given you? Judge not God’s Son, but follow in the way He has established. Christ has dreamed the dream of a forgiven world. It is His gift, whereby a sweet transition can be made from death to life; from hopelessness to hope. Let us an instant dream with Him. His dream awakens us to truth. His vision gives the means for a return to our unlost and everlasting sanctity in God.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #827A Course in Miracles refers to our “attraction” to guilt and suffering as being responsible for our difficulties in this world of perception. At first hearing, this would appear to be the opposite to what we experience. To be attracted to suffering of any kind sounds undesirable with nothing to recommend it at all. However we do seem to be attracted to hearing news of disasters happening to others, but not to ourselves. I guess if there are really no “others” and only me, then that is the hidden attraction, to prove to myself that there are others around separate from me. The downside to that is that if they suffer, then I am a candidate for the same. I think I’ve just answered my question. If all is one in the real world, no separation or suffering, as promised in the Course, that sounds okay to me. What I like about the Course is that it insists that we/I really have no real choice other than to be joyful, in spite of appearances and feelings of despair. Please comment on this tricky bit of detective work.

A: Your observations are valid, as far as they go. What limits them is your perspective, which all of us who believe we are here in the world share, that begins from the premise that we know who we are, and that our identity has something to do with being a body in the world. For seeing ourselves this way, we believe a reasonable goal is to attempt to maximize our body’s pleasure and minimize its pain as we make all of our careful plans and adjustments to the world. We don’t seem to know that we are minds that have chosen to see ourselves as bodies, just so we don’t remember that we are minds! And so the Course’s teachings on guilt and suffering are hard to grasp when we operate out of our mistaken bodily identity (T.27.VI.1:1,2,3,4;2:1,2) .

Yes, as you point out, we all seem to be fascinated by disasters in the world, but not simply because they demonstrate that others exist outside of us. More importantly, they seem to validate one of the ego’s central tenets, that victimization is real (more on this shortly). And most people relish the opportunity to recount the catastrophic events they’ve personally lived through, never tiring of sharing all the excruciating details that demonstrate their specialness through their good luck or bad luck, survivor skills, etc. And the media, demonstrating the principle that ego minds are joined, seem increasingly committed to broadcasting these very dramatic tales of loss and triumphs against overwhelming odds. But beneath these more obvious examples of our attraction to guilt and suffering at the level of the world is a sinister motivation that few of us allow ourselves to be in touch with. But as we begin to grasp the purpose our false identity as bodies serves, these hidden layers become more visible.

The lie behind our conscious belief that we don’t want to suffer and see guilt is easily recognized, once we are willing to accept the Course’s premise that our identity is mind, not body. If we really did not want to suffer and experience guilt, we would give up the charade that we are bodies at the mercy of forces outside ourselves that we cannot control. The desire for most of us may be unconscious, but we all want to seem to suffer as bodies to prove that guilt and attack thoughts reside anywhere but in our own mind. If your body can cause my body to suffer, either directly or indirectly, clearly the guilt and responsibility for my pain is yours and not mine. I am the victim and you are the victimizer, the ego loudly proclaims. We don’t want to get rid of guilt, for guilt says the separation and attack on God are real. And we want the separation to be real (T.13.III.2:4,5) because we want our individuality, which comes from the belief in separation, to be real. We each just want to see the guilt in someone else. And in order to see it in someone else, we must suffer at someone else’s hands e.g., T.26.X.3,4; T.27.I.3,4) . And to suffer at another’s hands, we must believe that we are all separate, individual bodies, and not simply related aspects of one mind.

The suffering and pain, although they seem to be experienced in the body, are only experienced in the mind (T.19.IV.C.5:2,3,4,5; T.28.VI.2:1,2,3,4) . It is part of the ego’s ruse to keep us mindless that convinces us that it is our bodies that suffer. It is the mind that thinks it can limit itself that suffers, and not the body(T.25.in.3:1,2) , which is nothing more than the ego’s symbol for limitation (T.15.IX.2:3,4; T.26.VII.8:7,8,9,10; T.28.VI.3:10) . And so your opening observation, that the Course teaches that our attraction to guilt and suffering is responsible for our difficulties in the world of perception is true, but not in the way that you are thinking. Our attraction to guilt is responsible for our decision to believe that we have difficulties and suffer in the world so that we never look to where the suffering is really occurring, in the mind, where we could do something about it (W.pI.76.5) . We have fooled ourselves into believing that we have difficulties in the world so that we don’t have to look at our attraction to guilt and suffering — the ego’s only offerings — in our mind.

And so, while everything of the ego, including all its projections into the world of form, is illusory, until we look at what we have chosen to make real in our own mind, we will continue to believe that joylessness and despair are our only lot. Jesus knows that the only real choice is for joy, but we stubbornly refuse to accept his word and continue to believe that we can choose guilt and suffering. If we are first honest about the pain that we are each in and are willing to accept complete responsibility for our own suffering (T.11.III.1:4) , we can then make a different choice (T.28.II.12) . And we make a different choice by inviting a different Teacher to look with us at the foolish choice we have been making, so we can recognize that we don’t need to continue to suffer.


Q #828: “The Substitute Reality” in Chapter 18 states, “That one error, which brought truth to illusion, and infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made” (T.18.I.4:4). This seems backwards to me. I don’t understand.

A: Jesus is describing for us in this section what we have accepted in place of reality as God created it. Truth, infinity, and life are all characteristics of Heaven; but when, as one Son, we decided to leave that state of Oneness in Heaven, we came up with a substitute world of our own, which we then believed was reality and truth. This world that consists of billions of individual entities is an illusory world, of course, because separating from Infinity and Totality is impossible — that is what the Atonement principle states.

So in the sentence you quote, Jesus is saying that by believing we live in a world that is not Heaven, we have made illusion, time, and death the truth, instead of what is “truly” true. By identifying with the ego, we brought truth to the illusion. A Course in Miracles corrects that error by bringing the illusion to the truth, where it is undone.

What seems so real to us is not real at all — it is an illusion that we sustain in our minds by denying the truth and believing in what we have made up instead. The way we undo this illusion is to bring it back to the truth, which is also in our minds, just as darkness disappears when you turn the light on.

Know Yourself

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 12

ACIM Text Reading for June 12

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

VIII. The Little Garden

It is only the awareness of the body that makes love seem limited. For the body is a limit on love. The belief in limited love was its origin, and it was made to limit the unlimited. Think not that this is merely allegorical, for it was made to limit you. Can you who see yourself within a body know yourself as an idea? Everything you recognize you identify with externals, something outside itself. You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize.

The body cannot know. And while you limit your awareness to its tiny senses, you will not see the grandeur that surrounds you. God cannot come into a body, nor can you join him there. Limits on love will always seem to shut him out, and keep you apart from him. The body is a tiny fence around a little part of a glorious and complete idea. It draws a circle, infinitely small, around a very little segment of Heaven, splintered from the whole, proclaiming that within it is your kingdom, where God can enter not.

Within this kingdom the ego rules, and cruelly. And to defend this little speck of dust it bids you fight against the universe. This fragment of your mind is such a tiny part of it that, could you but appreciate the whole, you would see instantly that it is like the smallest sunbeam to the sun, or like the faintest ripple on the surface of the ocean. In its amazing arrogance, this tiny sunbeam has decided it is the sun; this almost imperceptible ripple hails itself as the ocean. Think how alone and frightened is this little thought, this infinitesimal illusion, holding itself apart against the universe. The sun becomes the sunbeam’s “enemy” that would devour it, and the ocean terrifies the little ripple and wants to swallow it.

Yet neither sun nor ocean is even aware of all this strange and meaningless activity. They merely continue, unaware that they are feared and hated by a tiny segment of themselves. Even that segment is not lost to them, for it could not survive apart from them. And what it thinks it is in no way changes its total dependence on them for its being. Its whole existence still remains in them. Without the sun the sunbeam would be gone; the ripple without the ocean is inconceivable.

Such is the strange position in which those in a world inhabited by bodies seem to be. Each body seems to house a separate mind, a disconnected thought, living alone and in no way joined to the Thought by which it was created. Each tiny fragment seems to be self-contained, needing another for some things, but by no means totally dependent on its one Creator for everything; needing the whole to give it any meaning, for by itself it does mean nothing. Nor has it any life apart and by itself.

Like to the sun and ocean your Self continues, unmindful that this tiny part regards itself as you. It is not missing; it could not exist if it were separate, nor would the whole be whole without it. It is not a separate kingdom, ruled by an idea of separation from the rest. Nor does a fence surround it, preventing it from joining with the rest, and keeping it apart from its Creator. This little aspect is no different from the whole, being continuous with it and at one with it. It leads no separate life, because its life is the oneness in which its being was created.

Do not accept this little, fenced-off aspect as yourself. The sun and ocean are as nothing beside what you are. The sunbeam sparkles only in the sunlight, and the ripple dances as it rests upon the ocean. Yet in neither sun nor ocean is the power that rests in you. Would you remain within your tiny kingdom, a sorry king, a bitter ruler of all that he surveys, who looks on nothing yet who would still die to defend it? This little self is not your kingdom. Arched high above it and surrounding it with love is the glorious whole, which offers all its happiness and deep content to every part. The little aspect that you think you set apart is no exception.

Love knows no bodies, and reaches to everything created like itself. Its total lack of limit is its meaning. It is completely impartial in its giving, encompassing only to preserve and keep complete what it would give. In your tiny kingdom you have so little! Should it not, then, be there that you would call on love to enter? Look at the desert — dry and unproductive, scorched and joyless — that makes up your little kingdom. And realize the life and joy that love would bring to it from where it comes, and where it would return with you.

The Thought of God surrounds your little kingdom, waiting at the barrier you built to come inside and shine upon the barren ground. See how life springs up everywhere! The desert becomes a garden, green and deep and quiet, offering rest to those who lost their way and wander in the dust. Give them a place of refuge, prepared by love for them where once a desert was. And everyone you welcome will bring love with him from Heaven for you. They enter one by one into this holy place, but they will not depart as they had come, alone. The love they brought with them will stay with them, as it will stay with you. And under its beneficence your little garden will expand, and reach out to everyone who thirsts for living water, but has grown too weary to go on alone.

Go out and find them, for they bring your Self with them. And lead them gently to your quiet garden, and receive their blessing there. So will it grow and stretch across the desert, leaving no lonely little kingdoms locked away from love, and leaving you inside. And you will recognize yourself, and see your little garden gently transformed into the Kingdom of Heaven, with all the love of its Creator shining upon it.

The holy instant is your invitation to love to enter into your bleak and joyless kingdom, and to transform it into a garden of peace and welcome. Love’s answer is inevitable. It will come because you came without the body, and interposed no barriers to interfere with its glad coming. In the holy instant, you ask of love only what it offers everyone, neither less nor more. Asking for everything, you will receive it. And your shining Self will lift the tiny aspect that you tried to hide from Heaven straight to Heaven. No part of love calls on the whole in vain. No Son of God remains outside His Fatherhood.

Be sure of this; love has entered your special relationship, and entered fully at your weak request. You do not recognize that love has come, because you have not yet let go of all the barriers you hold against your brother. And you will not be able to give love welcome separately. You could no more know God alone than He knows you without your brother. But together you could no more be unaware of love than love could know you not, or fail to recognize itself in you.

You have reached the end of an ancient journey, not realizing yet that it is over. You are still worn and tired, and the desert’s dust still seems to cloud your eyes and keep you sightless. Yet He Whom you welcomed has come to you, and would welcome you. He has waited long to give you this. Receive it now of Him, for He would have you know Him. Only a little wall of dust still stands between you. Blow on it lightly and with happy laughter, and it will fall away. And walk into the garden love has prepared for both of you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 12

Lesson 163

There is no death. The Son of God is free.

Death is a thought that takes on many forms, often unrecognized. It may appear as sadness, fear, anxiety or doubt; as anger, faithlessness and lack of trust; concern for bodies, envy, and all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you. All such thoughts are but reflections of the worshipping of death as savior and as giver of release.

Embodiment of fear, the host of sin, god of the guilty and the lord of all illusions and deceptions, does the thought of death seem mighty. For it seems to hold all living things within its withered hand; all hopes and wishes in its blighting grasp; all goals perceived but in its sightless eyes. The frail, the helpless and the sick bow down before its image, thinking it alone is real, inevitable, worthy of their trust. For it alone will surely come.

All things but death are seen to be unsure, too quickly lost however hard to gain, uncertain in their outcome, apt to fail the hopes they once engendered, and to leave the taste of dust and ashes in their wake, in place of aspirations and of dreams. But death is counted on. For it will come with certain footsteps when the time has come for its arrival. It will never fail to take all life as hostage to itself.

Would you bow down to idols such as this? Here is the strength and might of God Himself perceived within an idol made of dust. Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God’s Will for life, the endlessness of love and Heaven’s perfect, changeless constancy. Here is the Will of Father and of Son defeated finally, and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God.

Unholy in defeat, he has become what death would have him be. His epitaph, which death itself has written, gives no name to him, for he has passed to dust. It says but this: “Here lies a witness God is dead.” And this it writes again and still again, while all the while its worshippers agree, and kneeling down with foreheads to the ground, they whisper fearfully that it is so.

It is impossible to worship death in any form, and still select a few you would not cherish and would yet avoid, while still believing in the rest. For death is total. Either all things die, or else they live and cannot die. No compromise is possible. For here again we see an obvious position, which we must accept if we be sane; what contradicts one thought entirely can not be true, unless its opposite is proven false.

The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty in believing it. For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished; killed, apparently, by those who did not want Him to survive. Their stronger will could triumph over His, and so eternal life gave way to death. And with the Father died the Son as well.

Death’s worshippers may be afraid. And yet, can thoughts like these be fearful? If they saw that it is only this which they believe, they would be instantly released. And you will show them this today. There is no death, and we renounce it now in every form, for their salvation and our own as well. God made not death. Whatever form it takes must therefore be illusion. This the stand we take today. And it is given us to look past death, and see the life beyond.

Our Father, bless our eyes today. We are Your messengers, and we would look upon the glorious reflection of Your Love which shines in everything. We live and move in You alone. We are not separate from Your eternal life. There is no death, for death is not Your Will. And we abide where You have placed us, in the life we share with You and with all living things, to be like You and part of You forever. We accept Your Thoughts as ours, and our will is one with Yours eternally. Amen.

***

 

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #52: Is it wrong to feel guilty about tragic world events, such as starvation in Africa, etc.? Often, when I see situations of people suffering in poorer countries, I feel guilty and think, “Look at the easy life I have. I really have nothing to complain about.” Is my guilt in this situation really just an attempt to retain a sense of specialness and separateness?

A: Guilt and blame are never justified, according to the Course. But the guilt you are feeling more than likely is coming from a deeper source than you mention, and can be undone only on that level. All of us would feel a deep sense of guilt simply because we are here. Our existence in this world is at God’s expense, so the ego has convinced us. We in essence stole God’s creative power and conferred it on ourselves so that we could direct our own lives in a world that could give us the specialness and individuality that was not available in Heaven. The guilt associated with our existence here is enormous as a result, and is deliberately kept out of awareness through denial and projection.

This dynamic of projection requires that there be a world in which terrible things happen, so that we can perceive both victims and victimizers outside us, rather than in the bloody battlefield in our minds, where we are terrified that God will come storming after us and destroy us for our abominable attack on Him. So there is a second tier of guilt in our minds that comes from our wanting there to be suffering in the world to keep our defense of projection working, which in turn maintains this system of existence outside Heaven and God.

Even though the ego assured us that we would be free of guilt by projecting both ourselves and our guilt from the mind, we wind up feeling guilty as bodies in a world of bodies anyway. We feel guilty when we are doing well because deep within our minds we know we got it all illegitimately. And we feel guilty when we see others not doing so well, because on an unconscious level we feel responsible for their suffering and poverty. It reminds us of our complicity in a plan to have a world of affliction and unsolvable problems so that we would never remember that the only problem is that we made the wrong decision in our minds, and that we can simply go back to our minds, guided by Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and now make the right decision.

Finally, we have to be wary of our tendency to interpret events by form only. In other words, the external form cannot tell us what is going on in a person’s Atonement path, the content. Perhaps suffering or poverty is the classroom that that mind is using to learn that the body is not our true reality. We don’t know that, so we should be cautious about judging what appear to be unfortunate situations. We really cannot see the larger picture. We also need to remember that one of the central principles of the Course is that there is no hierarchy of illusions. The bottom line is that kindness and gentleness to all people, regardless of their situation, should be our guiding principle.


Q #53: Does being active in political and social programs inappropriately reinforce the dream from which we are trying to awaken? Should one work solely on the self? Isn’t that the best way to address the world’s ill?

A: First, the Course is exclusively about the healing of our minds, because that is where our one and only problem and its solution reside: our decision to be separate, and our capacity to undo that choice.“Forget not that the healing of God’s Son is all this world is for” (T.24.VI.4:1). On one level, therefore, we can help the world most effectively by undoing the guilt in our minds, because the projection of this guilt is what made the world and all its problems, and what sustains it as well. The world, thus, is but an idea in our minds and has never left its source in our minds. If we could identify with this totally and then undo the guilt, the world would disappear back into the nothingness from which it came, and we would be back home in God. Then “nothing you remember now will you remember” (T.19.VI.6:6).

However, because we have not fully integrated this principle, our experience is that there is a world and we are influenced by it in many ways. It is a highly significant part of our dream and of our script. Therefore, on this level we cannot ignore it or be indifferent or passive about what takes place in the world, just as ignoring or denying bodily conditions is an “unworthy form of denial” (T.2.IV.3:11). Two principles that can guide us on this level are (1) there is no hierarchy of illusions, and (2) purpose is everything. Thus, being politically or socially active is no different than performing surgery, competing in sports, or eating and breathing in order to stay alive. In this sense, we cannot say that one reinforces the dream more than another. They are neutral once we identify with bodily existence. It is only when we consider purpose that we can begin to evaluate the helpfulness of what we do for our Atonement path. Being involved in political or social movements, or just stopping to help a person injured in an accident, can either reinforce the separation or undo it, depending on whether we have chosen the ego or Jesus as our teacher. It is not the behavior, in other words, that helps or hinders our spiritual advancement. The pivotal issue is whether we have chosen in our minds to see our interests as separate or the same as another person’s.

None of this should be taken to mean that one must be involved in political or social programs. It is entirely a matter of how one is guided. It is neither inherently wrong-minded nor right-minded to be active in the world. We just need to be vigilant about using Course principles to justify aloofness or indifference. It is indeed a fine line to walk and requires considerable experience and maturity to both integrate the teachings of the Course and yet do what normal and compassionate people do who are citizens of a country.

health is inner peace

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 10

ACIM Text Reading for June 10

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

VI. Beyond the Body

There is nothing outside you. That is what you must ultimately learn, for it is the realization that the Kingdom of Heaven is restored to you. For God created only this, and He did not depart from it nor leave it separate from Himself. The Kingdom of Heaven is the dwelling place of the Son of God, who left not His Father and dwells not apart from Him. Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this oneness, and nothing else within.

What could God give but knowledge of Himself? What else is there to give? The belief that you could give and get something else, something outside yourself, has cost you the awareness of Heaven and of your Identity. And you have done a stranger thing than you yet realize. You have displaced your guilt to your body from your mind. Yet a body cannot be guilty, for it can do nothing of itself. You who think you hate your body deceive yourself. You hate your mind, for guilt has entered into it, and it would remain separate from your brother’s, which it cannot do.

Minds are joined; bodies are not. Only by assigning to the mind the properties of the body does separation seem to be possible. And it is mind that seems to be fragmented and private and alone. Its guilt, which keeps it separate, is projected to the body, which suffers and dies because it is attacked to hold the separation in the mind, and let it not know its Identity. Mind cannot attack, but it can make fantasies and direct the body to act them out. Yet it is never what the body does that seems to satisfy. Unless the mind believes the body is actually acting out its fantasies, it will attack the body by increasing the projection of its guilt upon it.

In this, the mind is clearly delusional. It cannot attack, but it maintains it can, and uses what it does to hurt the body to prove it can. The mind cannot attack, but it can deceive itself. And this is all it does when it believes it has attacked the body. It can project its guilt, but it will not lose it through projection. And though it clearly can misperceive the function of the body, it cannot change its function from what the Holy Spirit establishes it to be. The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions.

Would you not have the instruments of separation reinterpreted as means for salvation, and used for purposes of love? Would you not welcome and support the shift from fantasies of vengeance to release from them? Your perception of the body can clearly be sick, but project not this upon the body. For your wish to make destructive what cannot destroy can have no real effect at all. What God created is only what He would have it be, being His Will. You cannot make His Will destructive. You can make fantasies in which your will conflicts with His, but that is all.

It is insane to use the body as the scapegoat for guilt, directing its attack and blaming it for what you wished it to do. It is impossible to act out fantasies. For it is still the fantasies you want, and they have nothing to do with what the body does. It does not dream of them, and they but make it a liability where it could be an asset. For fantasies have made your body your “enemy”; weak, vulnerable and treacherous, worthy of the hate that you invest in it. How has this served you? You have identified with this thing you hate, the instrument of vengeance and the perceived source of your guilt. You have done this to a thing that has no meaning, proclaiming it to be the dwelling place of God’s Son, and turning it against him.

This is the host of God that you have made. And neither God nor His most holy Son can enter an abode that harbors hate, and where you have sown the seeds of vengeance, violence and death. This thing you made to serve your guilt stands between you and other minds. The minds are joined, but you do not identify with them. You see yourself locked in a separate prison, removed and unreachable, incapable of reaching out as being reached. You hate this prison you have made, and would destroy it. But you would not escape from it, leaving it unharmed, without your guilt upon it.

Yet only thus can you escape. The home of vengeance is not yours; the place you set aside to house your hate is not a prison, but an illusion of yourself. The body is a limit imposed on the universal communication that is an eternal property of mind. But the communication is internal. Mind reaches to itself. It does not go out. Within itself it has no limits, and there is nothing outside it. It encompasses you entirely; you within it and it within you. There is nothing else, anywhere or ever.

The body is outside you, and but seems to surround you, shutting you off from others and keeping you apart from them. It is not there. There is no barrier between God and His Son, nor can His Son be separated from himself except in illusions. This is not his reality, though he believes it is. Yet this could only be if God were wrong. God would have had to create differently, and to have separated Himself from His Son to make this possible. He would have had to create different things, and to establish different orders of reality, only some of which were love. Yet love must be forever like itself, changeless forever, and forever without alternative. And so it is. You cannot put a barrier around yourself, because God placed none between Himself and you.

You can stretch out your hand and reach to Heaven. You whose hands are joined have begun to reach beyond the body, but not outside yourself, to reach your shared Identity together. Could this be outside you? Where God is not? Is He a body, and did He create you as He is not, and where He cannot be? You are surrounded only by Him. What limits can there be on you whom He encompasses?

Everyone has experienced what he would call a sense of being transported beyond himself. This feeling of liberation far exceeds the dream of freedom sometimes hoped for in special relationships. It is a sense of actual escape from limitations. If you will consider what this “transportation” really entails, you will realize that it is a sudden unawareness of the body, and a joining of yourself and something else in which your mind enlarges to encompass it. It becomes part of you, as you unite with it. And both become whole, as neither is perceived as separate. What really happens is that you have given up the illusion of a limited awareness, and lost your fear of union. The love that instantly replaces it extends to what has freed you, and unites with it. And while this lasts you are not uncertain of your Identity, and would not limit It. You have escaped from fear to peace, asking no questions of reality, but merely accepting it. You have accepted this instead of the body, and have let yourself be one with something beyond it, simply by not letting your mind be limited by it.

This can occur regardless of the physical distance that seems to be between you and what you join; of your respective positions in space; and of your differences in size and seeming quality. Time is not relevant; it can occur with something past, present or anticipated. The “something” can be anything and anywhere; a sound, a sight, a thought, a memory, and even a general idea without specific reference. Yet in every case, you join it without reservation because you love it, and would be with it. And so you rush to meet it, letting your limits melt away, suspending all the “laws” your body obeys and gently setting them aside.

There is no violence at all in this escape. The body is not attacked, but simply properly perceived. It does not limit you, merely because you would not have it so. You are not really “lifted out” of it; it cannot contain you. You go where you would be, gaining, not losing, a sense of Self. In these instants of release from physical restrictions, you experience much of what happens in the holy instant; the lifting of the barriers of time and space, the sudden experience of peace and joy, and, above all, the lack of awareness of the body, and of the questioning whether or not all this is possible.

It is possible because you want it. The sudden expansion of awareness that takes place with your desire for it is the irresistible appeal the holy instant holds. It calls to you to be yourself, within its safe embrace. There are the laws of limit lifted for you, to welcome you to openness of mind and freedom. Come to this place of refuge, where you can be yourself in peace. Not through destruction, not through a breaking out, but merely by a quiet melting in. For peace will join you there, simply because you have been willing to let go the limits you have placed upon love, and joined it where it is and where it led you, in answer to its gentle call to be at peace.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 10

Lesson 161

Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.

Today we practice differently, and take a stand against our anger, that our fears may disappear and offer room to love. Here is salvation in the simple words in which we practice with today’s idea. Here is the answer to temptation which can never fail to welcome in the Christ where fear and anger had prevailed before. Here is Atonement made complete, the world passed safely by and Heaven now restored. Here is the answer of the Voice for God.

Complete abstraction is the natural condition of the mind. But part of it is now unnatural. It does not look on everything as one. It sees instead but fragments of the whole, for only thus could it invent the partial world you see. The purpose of all seeing is to show you what you wish to see. All hearing but brings to your mind the sounds it wants to hear.

Thus were specifics made. And now it is specifics we must use in practicing. We give them to the Holy Spirit, that He may employ them for a purpose which is different from the one we gave to them. Yet He can use but what we made, to teach us from a different point of view, so we can see a different use in everything.

One brother is all brothers. Every mind contains all minds, for every mind is one. Such is the truth. Yet do these thoughts make clear the meaning of creation? Do these words bring perfect clarity with them to you? What can they seem to be but empty sounds; pretty, perhaps, correct in sentiment, yet fundamentally not understood nor understandable. The mind that taught itself to think specifically can no longer grasp abstraction in the sense that it is all-encompassing. We need to see a little, that we learn a lot.

It seems to be the body that we feel limits our freedom, makes us suffer, and at last puts out our life. Yet bodies are but symbols for a concrete form of fear. Fear without symbols calls for no response, for symbols can stand for the meaningless. Love needs no symbols, being true. But fear attaches to specifics, being false.

Bodies attack, but minds do not. This thought is surely reminiscent of our text, where it is often emphasized. This is the reason bodies easily become fear’s symbols. You have many times been urged to look beyond the body, for its sight presents the symbol of love’s “enemy” Christ’s vision does not see. The body is the target for attack, for no one thinks he hates a mind. Yet what but mind directs the body to attack? What else could be the seat of fear except what thinks of fear?

Hate is specific. There must be a thing to be attacked. An enemy must be perceived in such a form he can be touched and seen and heard, and ultimately killed. When hatred rests upon a thing, it calls for death as surely as God’s Voice proclaims there is no death. Fear is insatiable, consuming everything its eyes behold, seeing itself in everything, compelled to turn upon itself and to destroy.

Who sees a brother as a body sees him as fear’s symbol. And he will attack, because what he beholds is his own fear external to himself, poised to attack, and howling to unite with him again. Mistake not the intensity of rage projected fear must spawn. It shrieks in wrath, and claws the air in frantic hope it can reach to its maker and devour him.

This do the body’s eyes behold in one whom Heaven cherishes, the angels love and God created perfect. This is his reality. And in Christ’s vision is his loveliness reflected in a form so holy and so beautiful that you could scarce refrain from kneeling at his feet. Yet you will take his hand instead, for you are like him in the sight that sees him thus. Attack on him is enemy to you, for you will not perceive that in his hands is your salvation. Ask him but for this, and he will give it to you. Ask him not to symbolize your fear. Would you request that love destroy itself? Or would you have it be revealed to you and set you free?

Today we practice in a form we have attempted earlier. Your readiness is closer now, and you will come today nearer Christ’s vision. If you are intent on reaching it, you will succeed today. And once you have succeeded, you will not be willing to accept the witnesses your body’s eyes call forth. What you will see will sing to you of ancient melodies you will remember. You are not forgot in Heaven. Would you not remember it?

Select one brother, symbol of the rest, and ask salvation of him. See him first as clearly as you can, in that same form to which you are accustomed. See his face, his hands and feet, his clothing. Watch him smile, and see familiar gestures which he makes so frequently. Then think of this: What you are seeing now conceals from you the sight of one who can forgive you all your sins; whose sacred hands can take away the nails which pierce your own, and lift the crown of thorns which you have placed upon your bleeding head. Ask this of him, that he may set you free:

Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.
I would behold you with the eyes of Christ,
and see my perfect sinlessness in you.

And He will answer Whom you called upon. For He will hear the Voice for God in you, and answer in your own. Behold him now, whom you have seen as merely flesh and bone, and recognize that Christ has come to you. Today’s idea is your safe escape from anger and from fear. Be sure you use it instantly, should you be tempted to attack a brother and perceive in him the symbol of your fear. And you will see him suddenly transformed from enemy to savior; from the devil into Christ.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #150: I attacked someone but the next day I imploringly asked for forgiveness and truly forgave all that had hurt me and made me attack. Since then, however, because of the attack, the other person has broken off all communication. I have tried to renew it but without success. Keeping in mind that it was my attack in the first place that brought this situation about, how can I look at it with Jesus and regain my peace of mind? Obviously I have caused irrevocable pain.

A: You may first want to begin by looking at the thought that you have caused “irrevocable pain.” Believe it or not, it is arrogant to claim such power for yourself. You may have reinforced a perception of pain that your friend already held, but you can not be the cause of it. To believe that you could is to deny the power of your friend’s mind to choose its experiences, and to see your mind as more powerful. And that is the arrogance.

This is not to say that you may not have been unkind, even cruel, in your attack. But none of us can feel attacked unless we want to feel attacked (T.28.VI.4:3,4,5,6,7). And we all want to feel attacked so that the guilt we carry in our own mind over the separation — believing we have attacked and destroyed God (another arrogant thought!) — can be projected on to someone else.

The pain is already there in each of our own minds, by our own choice, caused by our own thoughts (W.pI.190.5:1,2,3,4,5). When we think we feel pain over someone else’s attack, the pain that has always been there in our mind is just brought to the surface so that we can attribute it to someone else — always the ego’s goal.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 11

ACIM Text Reading for June 11

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

VII. I Need Do Nothing

You still have too much faith in the body as a source of strength. What plans do you make that do not involve its comfort or protection or enjoyment in some way? This makes the body an end and not a means in your interpretation, and this always means you still find sin attractive. No one accepts Atonement for himself who still accepts sin as his goal. You have thus not met your one responsibility. Atonement is not welcomed by those who prefer pain and destruction.

There is one thing that you have never done; you have not utterly forgotten the body. It has perhaps faded at times from your sight, but it has not yet completely disappeared. You are not asked to let this happen for more than an instant, yet it is in this instant that the miracle of Atonement happens. Afterwards you will see the body again, but never quite the same. And every instant that you spend without awareness of it gives you a different view of it when you return.

At no single instant does the body exist at all. It is always remembered or anticipated, but never experienced just now. Only its past and future make it seem real. Time controls it entirely, for sin is never wholly in the present. In any single instant the attraction of guilt would be experienced as pain and nothing else, and would be avoided. It has no attraction now. Its whole attraction is imaginary, and therefore must be thought of in the past or in the future.

It is impossible to accept the holy instant without reservation unless, just for an instant, you are willing to see no past or future. You cannot prepare for it without placing it in the future. Release is given you the instant you desire it. Many have spent a lifetime in preparation, and have indeed achieved their instants of success. This course does not attempt to teach more than they learned in time, but it does aim at saving time. You may be attempting to follow a very long road to the goal you have accepted. It is extremely difficult to reach Atonement by fighting against sin. Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary. All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose. Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of present unworthiness and inadequacy.

Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means. A holy relationship is a means of saving time. One instant spent together restores the universe to both of you. You are prepared. Now you need but to remember you need do nothing. It would be far more profitable now merely to concentrate on this than to consider what you should do. When peace comes at last to those who wrestle with temptation and fight against the giving in to sin; when the light comes at last into the mind given to contemplation; or when the goal is finally achieved by anyone, it always comes with just one happy realization; “I need do nothing.”

Here is the ultimate release which everyone will one day find in his own way, at his own time. You do not need this time. Time has been saved for you because you and your brother are together. This is the special means this course is using to save you time. You are not making use of the course if you insist on using means which have served others well, neglecting what was made for you. Save time for me by only this one preparation, and practice doing nothing else. “I need do nothing” is a statement of allegiance, a truly undivided loyalty. Believe it for just one instant, and you will accomplish more than is given to a century of contemplation, or of struggle against temptation.

To do anything involves the body. And if you recognize you need do nothing, you have withdrawn the body’s value from your mind. Here is the quick and open door through which you slip past centuries of effort, and escape from time. This is the way in which sin loses all attraction right now. For here is time denied, and past and future gone. Who needs do nothing has no need for time. To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. Into this place the Holy Spirit comes, and there abides. He will remain when you forget, and the body’s activities return to occupy your conscious mind.

Yet there will always be this place of rest to which you can return. And you will be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 11

Lesson 162

I am as God created me.

This single thought, held firmly in the mind, would save the world. From time to time we will repeat it, as we reach another stage in learning. It will mean far more to you as you advance. These words are sacred, for they are the words God gave in answer to the world you made. By them it disappears, and all things seen within its misty clouds and vaporous illusions vanish as these words are spoken. For they come from God.

Here is the Word by which the Son became his Father’s happiness, His Love and His completion. Here creation is proclaimed, and honored as it is. There is no dream these words will not dispel; no thought of sin and no illusion which the dream contains that will not fade away before their might. They are the trumpet of awakening that sounds around the world. The dead awake in answer to its call. And those who live and hear this sound will never look on death.

Holy indeed is he who makes these words his own; arising with them in his mind, recalling them throughout the day, at night bringing them with him as he goes to sleep. His dreams are happy and his rest secure, his safety certain and his body healed, because he sleeps and wakens with the truth before him always. He will save the world, because he gives the world what he receives each time he practices the words of truth.

Today we practice simply. For the words we use are mighty, and they need no thoughts beyond themselves to change the mind of him who uses them. So wholly is it changed that it is now the treasury in which God places all His gifts and all His Love, to be distributed to all the world, increased in giving; kept complete because its sharing is unlimited. And thus you learn to think with God. Christ’s vision has restored your sight by salvaging your mind.

We honor you today. Yours is the right to perfect holiness you now accept. With this acceptance is salvation brought to everyone, for who could cherish sin when holiness like this has blessed the world? Who could despair when perfect joy is yours, available to all as remedy for grief and misery, all sense of loss, and for complete escape from sin and guilt?

And who would not be brother to you now; you, his redeemer and his savior. Who could fail to welcome you into his heart with loving invitation, eager to unite with one like him in holiness? You are as God created you. These words dispel the night, and darkness is no more. The light is come today to bless the world. For you have recognized the Son of God, and in that recognition is the world’s.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #90: My questions refers to the section in the text entitled “I Need Do Nothing.” It says that a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body isn’t necessary. I’ve studied the course for many years and have had moments of great peace doing the lessons or reading the text with an open mind and willingness to listen. I’ve also studied Buddhist meditation which is aimed not at detachment from the body but at being fully present. You can focus on the breath or on a feeling, and watch your thoughts. If you’re doing this with awareness, the thoughts pass and you may get a feeling of spaciousness or at least peace — calm from becoming still. I’m confused because many paragraphs in A Course in Miracles ask us to “be still,” “sit silently,” sit in silence and be still, and lay all thoughts aside. Is this not at least in part the same thing? Could you explain exactly how the Course wants you to be still? And is there any difference between the two?

A: The stillness or peace is the same — that experience when we let go of all our thoughts of separation and judgment and the constant chatter of the ego subsides. Where the difference between paths lies is not in the experience itself but in the Course’s focus on our resistance to that experience, and therefore the process through which that peace or stillness is attained.

The question really is, why do we not experience stillness all of the time? In the workbook lesson, “I want the peace of God,” Jesus observes, “To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything” (W.pI.185.1:1,2). And he goes on to say, “To mean you want the peace of God is to renounce all dreams….The mind which means that all it wants is peace must join with other minds, for that is how peace is obtained” (W.pI.185.5:1;6:1).

And that is the reason for our resistance to the stillness. In that peace, the illusory dream self we believe we really are no longer exists — we have renounced the dream of separation. Our dreams of judgment and attack are what maintain our illusory sense of a separate self, with others outside of that self with whom we seem to be in conflict — the antithesis of peace. And when we “join with other minds” by releasing all judgments, our separate self simply vanishes, at least for an instant until our fear of the limitless becomes too great.

And so the Course, while speaking of the peace and inviting us in some of the workbook lessons to experience it through quieting our minds and becoming still, really emphasizes the problem of our resistance and asks us to look at that. And the resistance is to be found in all of our projections of guilt and blame for our lack of peace onto others, so that we never see the guilt we are harboring within our own mind that is the real obstacle to peace. As the section you refer to, “I Need Do Nothing” points out, “Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means. A holy relationship is a means of saving time” (T.18.VII.5:1,2). In other words, the Course process is one of forgiving our special relationships, all the external projections of our internal guilt that keep us in conflict and not at peace.

If we really wanted to be still and at peace, we would be. Peace, after all, is our natural inheritance (T.3.VI.10:1,2). But we allow ourselves only brief glimpses of the real peace, as you observe from your own experiences. We don’t want to maintain that stillness because of our fear of it. And so the Course leads us on an indirect path to the stillness, focusing on the removal of the barriers we have placed between ourselves and the peace, rather than on a direct approach, such as meditation, which tends to overlook our resistance and its origins.

*

Q #114:  There are two questions I have relating to true empathy and false empathy. I think I understand how A Course in Miracles is defining the difference between the two, but what I don’t understand is how can you be loving, compassionate and kind to your brother without falling into the trap of the ego? The second question is, when your brother is sick or has lost his job or a loved one, as I am understanding, is Jesus telling us to “Do Nothing”? This is difficult for me. If I say or do anything I am joining with the ego. How do I look at this differently?

A. True empathy comes from your right mind, which means you have joined with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. In that instant, you are beyond your ego, and therefore everything you do will be loving. You cannot fall into the trap of the ego when you are one with the love of Jesus in a holy instant, because that joining is a decision against the ego — the two states are mutually exclusive. Of course most of the time we jump right back into our wrong minds and into the ego trap of making the error real.

When Jesus tells us we need do nothing, he means that we should do nothing on our own. He is not advocating passivity. He is teaching us that if we do not ask his help, or the help of the Holy Spirit, we almost certainly will fall into the ego trap. Then, in our wrong minds, our perception will be that the other person truly is an unfortunate victim, and that the kind and caring thing to do is to extend a helping hand to fix the problem and make him feel better. In that perception we have to­tally lost sight of the truth about our brother and about ourselves as well. We have fallen into the ego trap of making our brother mindless, which means we no longer see him or ourselves as minds that have chosen to reject our true Identity as Christ, and then project responsibility for that choice. Wrong-minded perception always sees victims and victimizers, not minds with the power of choice to reverse mistaken decisions and accept back into awareness the love that had been pushed away. If I am perceiving you that way, I cannot be truly helpful, even if I do fix the external situation and make you feel better. I have actually attacked you and myself, because the message I am giving is that I have something you do not have, and you are helpless. I have seen us as separate and have empathized with your weakness, thus confirming the ego’s view of you, not Jesus’ view of you.

The correction of this faulty perception comes through asking for help to see through Jesus’ eyes, or to share perception with the Holy Spirit. We bring our perception of victimization to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, because if I see you as a victim, then I am the one in need of healing. My percep­tion needs to be corrected before I can be of help. Now we are not talking about what my physical eyes see. Objectively it may be the case that you have lost your job or a loved one; but to then conclude that you are a victim is an interpretation. That is where I make my mistake. Once I perceive you as a victim, I am implying that there is a victimizer, and that you are not responsible for your condition. That is the ego trap I have fallen into. When I first became aware that I was seeing you as a victim, I should have stopped right there and asked for help to look at the situation differently, to ask for help to empathize with the strength of Christ in you, rather than the weakness of the ego in you. If I make that shift from my wrong mind to my right mind, then I would automatically be guided to do whatever is most loving in the circumstances. That may be to do something or to do nothing, to say something or to say nothing. Whatever is most helpful would happen automatically, with no deliberation, and with no investment in the outcome.

ghost-mirror copy

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 9

ACIM Text Reading for June 9

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

V. The Happy Dream

Prepare you now for the undoing of what never was. If you already understood the difference between truth and illusion, the Atonement would have no meaning. The holy instant, the holy relationship, the Holy Spirit’s teaching, and all the means by which salvation is accomplished, would have no purpose. For they are all but aspects of the plan to change your dreams of fear to happy dreams, from which you waken easily to knowledge. Put yourself not in charge of this, for you cannot distinguish between advance and retreat. Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success.

Never approach the holy instant after you have tried to remove all fear and hatred from your mind. That is its function. Never attempt to overlook your guilt before you ask the Holy Spirit’s help. That is His function. Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven. On your little faith, joined with His understanding, He will build your part in the Atonement and make sure that you fulfill it easily. And with Him, you will build a ladder planted in the solid rock of faith, and rising even to Heaven. Nor will you use it to ascend to Heaven alone.

Through your holy relationship, reborn and blessed in every holy instant you do not arrange, thousands will rise to Heaven with you. Can you plan for this? Or could you prepare yourself for such a function? Yet it is possible, because God wills it. Nor will He change His mind about it. The means and purpose both belong to Him. You have accepted one; the other will be provided. A purpose such as this, without the means, is inconceivable. He will provide the means to anyone who shares His purpose.

Happy dreams come true, not because they are dreams, but only because they are happy. And so they must be loving. Their message is, “Thy Will be done,” and not, “I want it otherwise.” The alignment of means and purpose is an undertaking impossible for you to understand. You do not even realize you have accepted the Holy Spirit’s purpose as your own, and you would merely bring unholy means to its accomplishment. The little faith it needed to change the purpose is all that is required to receive the means and use them.

It is no dream to love your brother as yourself. Nor is your holy relationship a dream. All that remains of dreams within it is that it is still a special relationship. Yet it is very useful to the Holy Spirit, Who has a special function here. It will become the happy dream through which He can spread joy to thousands on thousands who believe that love is fear, not happiness. Let Him fulfill the function that He gave to your relationship by accepting it for you, and nothing will be wanting that would make of it what He would have it be.

When you feel the holiness of your relationship is threatened by anything, stop instantly and offer the Holy Spirit your willingness, in spite of fear, to let Him exchange this instant for the holy one that you would rather have. He will never fail in this. But forget not that your relationship is one, and so it must be that whatever threatens the peace of one is an equal threat to the other. The power of joining its blessing lies in the fact that it is now impossible for you or your brother to experience fear alone, or to attempt to deal with it alone. Never believe that this is necessary, or even possible. Yet just as this is impossible, so is it equally impossible that the holy instant come to either of you without the other. And it will come to both at the request of either.

Whoever is saner at the time the threat is perceived should remember how deep is his indebtedness to the other and how much gratitude is due him, and be glad that he can pay his debt by bringing happiness to both. Let him remember this, and say:

“I desire this holy instant for myself,
That I may share it with my brother, whom I love.
It is not possible that I can have it without him, or he without me.
Yet it is wholly possible for us to share it now.
And so I choose this instant as the one to offer to the Holy Spirit,
That His blessing may descend on us, and keep us both in peace.”

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 9

Lesson 160

I am at home. Fear is the stranger here.

Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself. And thus you are unknown to you. What is your Self remains an alien to the part of you which thinks that it is real, but different from yourself. Who could be sane in such a circumstance? Who but a madman could believe he is what he is not, and judge against himself?

There is a stranger in our midst, who comes from an idea so foreign to the truth he speaks a different language, looks upon a world truth does not know, and understands what truth regards as senseless. Stranger yet, he does not recognize to whom he comes, and yet maintains his home belongs to him, while he is alien now who is at home. And yet, how easy it would be to say, “This is my home. Here I belong, and will not leave because a madman says I must.”

What reason is there for not saying this? What could the reason be except that you had asked this stranger in to take your place, and let you be a stranger to yourself? No one would let himself be dispossessed so needlessly, unless he thought there were another home more suited to his tastes.

Who is the stranger? Is it fear or you who are unsuited to the home which God provided for His Son? Is fear His Own, created in His likeness? Is it fear that love completes, and is completed by? There is no home can shelter love and fear. They cannot coexist. If you are real, then fear must be illusion. And if fear is real, then you do not exist at all.

How simply, then, the question is resolved. Who fears has but denied himself and said, “I am the stranger here. And so I leave my home to one more like me than myself, and give him all I thought belonged to me.” Now is he exiled of necessity, not knowing who he is, uncertain of all things but this; that he is not himself, and that his home has been denied to him.

What does he search for now? What can he find? A stranger to himself can find no home wherever he may look, for he has made return impossible. His way is lost, except a miracle will search him out and show him that he is no stranger now. The miracle will come. For in his home his Self remains. It asked no stranger in, and took no alien thought to be Itself. And It will call Its Own unto Itself in recognition of what is Its Own.

Who is the stranger? Is he not the one your Self calls not? You are unable now to recognize this stranger in your midst, for you have given him your rightful place. Yet is your Self as certain of Its Own as God is of His Son. He cannot be confused about creation. He is sure of what belongs to Him. No stranger can be interposed between His knowledge and His Son’s reality. He does not know of strangers. He is certain of His Son.

God’s certainty suffices. Who He knows to be His Son belongs where He has set His Son forever. He has answered you who ask, “Who is the stranger?” Hear His Voice assure you, quietly and sure, that you are not a stranger to your Father, nor is your Creator stranger made to you. Whom God has joined remain forever one, at home in Him, no stranger to Himself.

Today we offer thanks that Christ has come to search the world for what belongs to Him. His vision sees no strangers, but beholds His Own and joyously unites with them. They see Him as a stranger, for they do not recognize themselves. Yet as they give Him welcome, they remember. And He leads them gently home again, where they belong.

Not one does Christ forget. Not one He fails to give you to remember, that your home may be complete and perfect as it was established. He has not forgotten you. But you will not remember Him until you look on all as He does. Who denies his brother is denying Him, and thus refusing to accept the gift of sight by which his Self is clearly recognized, his home remembered and salvation come.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #318: In C.1.3:2 it says that the term “soul” is only used in direct biblical quotations. Yet I’ve found that Jesus does use the term several times throughout A Course in Miracles without directly quoting the Bible. “The more ‘religiously’ ego-oriented may believe that the soul existed before, and will continue to exist after a temporary laps into ego life” (T.4.II.9:5).

A: You are right in pointing out that the references to the term “soul” in the Course are not direct quotations. All but one of the references, however, do refer to well known Biblical statements regarding the soul, such as “losing your soul” (T.12.VI.1). In the Clarification of Terms it is used to contrast the Course’s use of the term “spirit.” In this section it is not referring to any specific Biblical passage, but reflects traditional religious views of the soul, including Christian belief which is based on the Bible’s teaching. Hopefully, finding these imperfections is not an impediment to learning the message of the Course and practicing its teachings. That would certainly not profit the man or the soul.


Q #319: In “Jesus: the Manifestation of the Holy Spirit” excerpt, on page 6, you state “The goal however is ultimately to realize the hand we hold is our Own.” And, later, “Eventually we would realize that when we reach out for help, we are really reaching out to ourselves.” Could you please elaborate on these statements?

A: A Course in Miracles teaches that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are symbols which represent the part of our minds which holds the memory of God and reflects His love. When it speaks of taking Jesus’ hand, or asking for help, it is making use of these symbols because we, who have dissociated ourselves from our minds and are mistakenly identified with the body, need them. This is best described when the Course tells us: “You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T.18.VIII.1:7).

Since we believe we are bodies living in a world of form, the Course uses form to make its message personal and relevant to us. It meets us on the level of form because that is where we think we are. It is also more direct, i.e., in passages that clearly describe the nature of the mind and our true identity (See: T.18.VI.8). There is nothing outside the mind, and therefore, no hand to take (neither ours nor Jesus’), and nothing but the mind itself to choose the truth or the ego’s lie of separation.

Both of the statements you mention are based on this level of the Course’s teaching. Key words in the statements are “ultimately” and “eventually.” They point to the time when we will have learned that our true identity is the mind. Only then will we realize that the power of choice is ours, and all of our asking has been a reminder to ourselves that we can return to the mind to choose our oneness with God rather than separation. Until then, we need to use any symbol that is helpful to us, such as holding Jesus’ hand and asking the Holy Spirit’s help, to let go of the fear of the power of our minds.

there is nothing to fear

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 8

ACIM Text Reading for June 8

Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream

IV. The Little Willingness

The holy instant is the result of your determination to be holy. It is the answer. The desire and the willingness to let it come precede its coming. You prepare your mind for it only to the extent of recognizing that you want it above all else. It is not necessary that you do more; indeed, it is necessary that you realize that you cannot do more. Do not attempt to give the Holy Spirit what He does not ask, or you will add the ego to Him and confuse the two. He asks but little. It is He Who adds the greatness and the might. He joins with you to make the holy instant far greater than you can understand. It is your realization that you need do so little that enables Him to give so much.

Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough. But trust implicitly your willingness, whatever else may enter. Concentrate only on this, and be not disturbed that shadows surround it. That is why you came. If you could come without them you would not need the holy instant. Come to it not in arrogance, assuming that you must achieve the state its coming brings with it. The miracle of the holy instant lies in your willingness to let it be what it is. And in your willingness for this lies also your acceptance of yourself as you were meant to be.

Humility will never ask that you remain content with littleness. But it does require that you be not content with less than greatness that comes not of you. Your difficulty with the holy instant arises from your fixed conviction that you are not worthy of it. And what is this but the determination to be as you would make yourself? God did not create His dwelling place unworthy of Him. And if you believe He cannot enter where He wills to be, you must be interfering with His Will. You do not need the strength of willingness to come from you, but only from His Will.

The holy instant does not come from your little willingness alone. It is always the result of your small willingness combined with the unlimited power of God’s Will. You have been wrong in thinking that it is needful to prepare yourself for Him. It is impossible to make arrogant preparations for holiness, and not believe that it is up to you to establish the conditions for peace. God has established them. They do not wait upon your willingness for what they are. Your willingness is needed only to make it possible to teach you what they are. If you maintain you are unworthy of learning this, you are interfering with the lesson by believing that you must make the learner different. You did not make the learner, nor can you make him different. Would you first make a miracle yourself, and then expect one to be made for you?

You merely ask the question. The answer is given. Seek not to answer, but merely to receive the answer as it is given. In preparing for the holy instant, do not attempt to make yourself holy to be ready to receive it. That is but to confuse your role with God’s. Atonement cannot come to those who think that they must first atone, but only to those who offer it nothing more than simple willingness to make way for it. Purification is of God alone, and therefore for you. Rather than seek to prepare yourself for Him, try to think thus:

“I who am host to God am worthy of Him.
He who established His dwelling place in me created it as He would have it be.
It is not needful that I make it ready for Him,
But only that I do not interfere with His plan to restore to me my own awareness of my readiness, which is eternal.
I need add nothing to His plan.
But to receive it, I must be willing not to substitute my own in place of it.”

And that is all. Add more, and you will merely take away the little that is asked. Remember you made guilt, and that your plan for the escape from guilt has been to bring Atonement to it, and make salvation fearful. And it is only fear that you will add, if you prepare yourself for love. The preparation for the holy instant belongs to Him Who gives it. Release yourself to Him Whose function is release. Do not assume His function for Him. Give Him but what He asks, that you may learn how little is your part, and how great is His.

It is this that makes the holy instant so easy and so natural. You make it difficult because you insist there must be more that you need do, and it is very hard for you to realize it is not personally insulting that your contribution and the Holy Spirit’s are so extremely disproportionate. You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is. Yet we have emphasized that you need understand nothing. Salvation is easy just because it asks nothing you cannot give right now.

Forget not that it has been your decision to make everything that is natural and easy for you impossible. If you believe the holy instant is difficult for you, it is because you have become the arbiter of what is possible, and remain unwilling to give place to One Who knows. The whole belief in orders of difficulty in miracles is centered on this. Everything God wills is not only possible, but has already happened. And that is why the past has gone. It never happened in reality. Only in your mind, which thought it did, is its undoing needful.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 8

Lesson 159

I give the miracles I have received.

No one can give what he has not received. To give a thing requires first you have it in your own possession. Here the laws of Heaven and the world agree. But here they also separate. The world believes that to possess a thing, it must be kept. Salvation teaches otherwise. To give is how to recognize you have received. It is the proof that what you have is yours.

You understand that you are healed when you give healing. You accept forgiveness as accomplished in yourself when you forgive. You recognize your brother as yourself, and thus do you perceive that you are whole. There is no miracle you cannot give, for all are given you. Receive them now by opening the storehouse of your mind where they are laid, and giving them away.

Christ’s vision is a miracle. It comes from far beyond itself, for it reflects eternal love and the rebirth of love which never dies, but has been kept obscure. Christ’s vision pictures Heaven, for it sees a world so like to Heaven that what God created perfect can be mirrored there. The darkened glass the world presents can show but twisted images in broken parts. The real world pictures Heaven’s innocence.

Christ’s vision is the miracle in which all miracles are born. It is their source, remaining with each miracle you give, and yet remaining yours. It is the bond by which the giver and receiver are united in extension here on earth, as they are one in Heaven. Christ beholds no sin in anyone. And in His sight the sinless are as one. Their holiness was given by His Father and Himself.

Christ’s vision is the bridge between the worlds. And in its power can you safely trust to carry you from this world into one made holy by forgiveness. Things which seem quite solid here are merely shadows there; transparent, faintly seen, at times forgot, and never able to obscure the light that shines beyond them. Holiness has been restored to vision, and the blind can see.

This is the Holy Spirit’s single gift; the treasure house to which you can appeal with perfect certainty for all the things that can contribute to your happiness. All are laid here already. All can be received but for the asking. Here the door is never locked, and no one is denied his least request or his most urgent need. There is no sickness not already healed, no lack unsatisfied, no need unmet within this golden treasury of Christ.

Here does the world remember what was lost when it was made. For here it is repaired, made new again, but in a different light. What was to be the home of sin becomes the center of redemption and the hearth of mercy, where the suffering are healed and welcome. No one will be turned away from this new home, where his salvation waits. No one is stranger to him. No one asks for anything of him except the gift of his acceptance of his welcoming.

Christ’s vision is the holy ground in which the lilies of forgiveness set their roots. This is their home. They can be brought from here back to the world, but they can never grow in its unnourishing and shallow soil. They need the light and warmth and kindly care Christ’s charity provides. They need the love with which He looks on them. And they become His messengers, who give as they received.

Take from His storehouse, that its treasures may increase. His lilies do not leave their home when they are carried back into the world. Their roots remain. They do not leave their source, but carry its beneficence with them, and turn the world into a garden like the one they came from, and to which they go again with added fragrance. Now are they twice blessed. The messages they brought from Christ have been delivered, and returned to them. And they return them gladly unto Him.

Behold the store of miracles set out for you to give. Are you not worth the gift, when God appointed it be given you? Judge not God’s Son, but follow in the way He has established. Christ has dreamed the dream of a forgiven world. It is His gift, whereby a sweet transition can be made from death to life; from hopelessness to hope. Let us an instant dream with Him. His dream awakens us to truth. His vision gives the means for a return to our unlost and everlasting sanctity in God.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #73: Why should I decide against pain?

A: Because it hurts, and because not to decide against pain keeps us in hell. However, there is really no obligation to decide against pain. As long as pain is tolerable, denied, or temporarily assuaged, it is conceivable that no decision against it will be made. The physical, emotional, and psychological pain experienced in the body is a reflection of the pain in the mind, which is the result of denying our identity as God’s one Son by choosing to separate from Him. Pain, therefore, is the condition of the separated Son: “Pain is the thought of evil taking form, and working havoc in your holy mind. Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid not to be free. In pain is God denied the Son He loves. In pain does fear appear to triumph over love, and time replace eternity and Heaven. And the world becomes a cruel and a bitter place, where sorrow rules and little joys give way before the onslaught of the savage pain that waits to end all joy in misery” (W.p.I.190.8). Why then would we want it?

Since we have found numerous ways to adapt to the very painful experience of denying our true Self, and identifying with the ego, our pain often goes unrecognized. This adjustment to pain is compounded by our confusing pain and joy, as the Course tells us: “You no more recognize what is painful than you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain” (T.7.X.3:4,5,6). It is when the true depth and searing pain of the ego’s thought system is recognized, and becomes intolerable, that steps are taken to decide against it. This is the goal of the Course. Until then, tremendous energy, time, and money are spent in making accommodations to live with the pain of being in this world.

The decision against pain is inevitable, because the decision for God is inevitable. We could paraphrase a very familiar line in the Introduction to the Text: It is a required decision. Only the time you make it is voluntary” (T.in.1:2,3; italics added). From the moment of birth we seek to alleviate or avoid pain. This is a drive natural to physical bodies. Unless some specific pathology exists, we naturally seek relief from every imaginable physical, psychological, and emotional discomfort, whether we do so consciously or unconsciously. The Holy Spirit makes use of this natural aversion to pain to lead us gently to make another choice, which will end our pain and lead us out of hell. When we have had enough of the pain in our psyches caused by our destructive ego choices, we will be willing to accept His help and find the relief forgiveness offers: “Do you not then begin to understand what forgiveness will do for you? It will remove all sense of weakness, strain and fatigue from your mind. It will take away all fear and guilt and pain. It will restore the invulnerability and power God gave His Son to your awareness” (W.pI.62.3:2,3,4,5). Being without weakness, strain, fatigue, fear, and guilt would seem to be a convincing enough reason to decide against pain, not to mention the peace that will replace it, whenever we are ready to accept it.


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