ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for April 27

ACIM Text Reading for April 27

Chapter 13 ~ The Guiltless World

XI. Release from Guilt

You are accustomed to the notion that the mind can see the source of pain where it is not. The doubtful service of such displacement is to hide the real source of guilt, and keep from your awareness the full perception that it is insane. Displacement always is maintained by the illusion that the source of guilt, from which attention is diverted, must be true; and must be fearful, or you would not have displaced the guilt onto what you believed to be less fearful. You are therefore willing to look upon all kinds of “sources,” provided they are not the deeper source to which they bear no real relationship at all.

Insane ideas have no real relationships, for that is why they are insane. No real relationship can rest on guilt, or even hold one spot of it to mar its purity. For all relationships that guilt has touched are used but to avoid the person and the guilt. What strange relationships you have made for this strange purpose! And you forgot that real relationships are holy, and cannot be used by you at all. They are used only by the Holy Spirit, and it is that which makes them pure. If you pre-empt for your own ends what you should have given Him, He cannot use it for your release. No one who would unite in any way with anyone for his individual salvation will find it in that strange relationship. It is not shared, and so it is not real.

In any union with a brother in which you seek to lay your guilt upon him, or share it with him or perceive his own, you will feel guilty. Nor will you find satisfaction and peace with him, because your union with him is not real. You will see guilt in that relationship because you put it there. It is inevitable that those who suffer guilt will attempt to displace it, because they do believe in it. Yet though they suffer, they will not look within and let it go. They cannot know they love, and cannot understand what loving is. Their main concern is to perceive the source of guilt outside themselves, beyond their own control.

When you maintain that you are guilty but the source of your guilt lies in the past, you are not looking inward. The past is not in you. Your weird associations to it have no meaning in the present. Yet you let them stand between you and your brothers, with whom you find no real relationships at all. Can you expect to use your brothers as a means to “solve” the past, and still to see them as they really are? Salvation is not found by those who use their brothers to resolve problems that are not there. You wanted not salvation in the past. Would you impose your idle wishes on the present, and hope to find salvation now?

Determine, then, to be not as you were. Use no relationship to hold you to the past, but with each one each day be born again. A minute, even less, will be enough to free you from the past, and give your mind in peace over to the Atonement. When everyone is welcome to you as you would have yourself be welcome to your Father, you will see no guilt in you. For you will have accepted the Atonement, which shone within you all the while you dreamed of guilt, and would not look within and see it.

As long as you believe that guilt is justified in any way, in anyone, whatever he may do, you will not look within, where you would always find Atonement. The end of guilt will never come as long as you believe there is a reason for it. For you must learn that guilt is always totally insane, and has no reason. The Holy Spirit seeks not to dispel reality. If guilt were real, Atonement would not be. The purpose of Atonement is to dispel illusions, not to establish them as real and then forgive them.

The Holy Spirit does not keep illusions in your mind to frighten you, and show them to you fearfully to demonstrate what He has saved you from. What He has saved you from is gone. Give no reality to guilt, and see no reason for it. The Holy Spirit does what God would have Him do, and has always done so. He has seen separation, but knows of union. He teaches healing, but He also knows of creation. He would have you see and teach as He does, and through Him. Yet what He knows you do not know, though it is yours.

Now it is given you to heal and teach, to make what will be now. As yet it is not now. The Son of God believes that he is lost in guilt, alone in a dark world where pain is pressing everywhere upon him from without. When he has looked within and seen the radiance there, he will remember how much his Father loves him. And it will seem incredible that he ever thought his Father loved him not, and looked upon him as condemned. The moment that you realize guilt is insane, wholly unjustified and wholly without reason, you will not fear to look upon the Atonement and accept it wholly.

You who have been unmerciful to yourself do not remember your Father’s Love. And looking without mercy upon your brothers, you do not remember how much you love Him. Yet it is forever true. In shining peace within you is the perfect purity in which you were created. Fear not to look upon the lovely truth in you. Look through the cloud of guilt that dims your vision, and look past darkness to the holy place where you will see the light. The altar to your Father is as pure as He Who raised it to Himself. Nothing can keep from you what Christ would have you see. His Will is like His Father’s, and He offers mercy to every child of God, as He would have you do.

Release from guilt as you would be released. There is no other way to look within and see the light of love, shining as steadily and as surely as God Himself has always loved His Son. And as His Son loves Him. There is no fear in love, for love is guiltless. You who have always loved your Father can have no fear, for any reason, to look within and see your holiness. You cannot be as you believed you were. Your guilt is without reason because it is not in the Mind of God, where you are. And this is reason, which the Holy Spirit would restore to you. He would remove only illusions. All else He would have you see. And in Christ’s vision He would show you the perfect purity that is forever within God’s Son.

You cannot enter into real relationships with any of God’s Sons unless you love them all and equally. Love is not special. If you single out part of the Sonship for your love, you are imposing guilt on all your relationships and making them unreal. You can love only as God loves. Seek not to love unlike Him, for there is no love apart from His. Until you recognize that this is true, you will have no idea what love is like. No one who condemns a brother can see himself as guiltless and in the peace of God. If he is guiltless and in peace and sees it not, he is delusional, and has not looked upon himself. To him I say:

“Behold the Son of God, and look upon his purity and be still.
In quiet look upon his holiness, and offer thanks unto his Father
that no guilt has ever touched him.”

No illusion that you have ever held against him has touched his innocence in any way. His shining purity, wholly untouched by guilt and wholly loving, is bright within you. Let us look upon him together and love him. For in love of him is your guiltlessness. But look upon yourself, and gladness and appreciation for what you see will banish guilt forever. I thank You, Father, for the purity of Your most holy Son, whom You have created guiltless forever.

Like you, my faith and my belief are centered on what I treasure. The difference is that I love only what God loves with me, and because of this I treasure you beyond the value that you set on yourself, even unto the worth that God has placed upon you. I love all that He created, and all my faith and my belief I offer unto it. My faith in you is as strong as all the love I give my Father. My trust in you is without limit, and without the fear that you will hear me not. I thank the Father for your loveliness, and for the many gifts that you will let me offer to the Kingdom in honor of its wholeness that is of God.

Praise be to you who make the Father one with His Own Son. Alone we are all lowly, but together we shine with brightness so intense that none of us alone can even think of it. Before the glorious radiance of the Kingdom guilt melts away, and transformed into kindness will never more be what it was. Every reaction you experience will be so purified that it is fitting as a hymn of praise unto your Father. See only praise of Him in what He has created, for He will never cease His praise of you. United in this praise we stand before the gates of Heaven where we will surely enter in our sinlessness. God loves you. Could I, then, lack faith in you and love Him perfectly?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 27

Lesson 117

For morning and evening review:

(103) God, being Love, is also happiness.

Let me remember love is happiness, and nothing else
brings joy. And so I choose to entertain no substitutes
for love.

(104) I seek but what belongs to me in truth.

Love is my heritage, and with it joy. These are the
gifts my Father gave to me. I would accept all that is
mine in truth.

On the hour:

God, being Love, is also happiness.

On the half hour:

I seek but what belongs to me in truth.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #78: I recently watched a movie based on a true story of a prisoner in Alcatraz who was put in solitary confinement for over a three year period. In this time, he was in total darkness, had no contact with people, with the exception of ½ hour per year, at Christmas, and lived in the most horrendous conditions imaginable. Consequently, he went insane (based of course on what would be considered insanity in the world of illusions). I am having a great deal of trouble with how a person in his situation would apply the Course, with absolutely no contact with people or the outside world. How could he join with his brother? How could he practice forgiveness, or experience miracles? If it were Jesus stuck in there, what would he do? This type of scenario obviously brings up a great deal of fear for me, and I’ve been pondering this for days. I guess I am trying to figure out, that in even in this most horrific a situation, can one still find the peace of God?

A: Since the Course teaches that everything occurs in the mind, there is no need for contact with people in order to practice forgiveness: “…there is no world outside….(T.12.III.6:7). All of our relationships (thoughts) remain within, so we are able to practice forgiveness with those who are seemingly alive, as well as those who are seemingly dead: “Like you, your brother thinks he is a dream….Think…of him as a mind in which illusions still persist, but as a mind which brother is to you. He is not brother made by what he dreams, nor is his body, ‘hero’ of the dream, your brother….Your mind and his are joined in brotherhood (T.28.IV.3:1,2,3,4,5,6).

In the section, “Shadows of the Past” (T.17.III), Jesus explains how we always see people in terms of the past, whether it be things we believe others have done to us or other people, or it be the needs we believed we had, which were not met. In essence, it explains that we don’t ever really have a relationship with anyone in the present, since these “shadows” are always with us, until they are forgiven. This simply reiterates the teaching that you do not need a physical body present in order to join or forgive.

Regarding maintaining one’s peace in such an extreme condition as you suggest, while it does seem formidable, it is nonetheless possible in principle. Otherwise, you are saying that the peace of God is limited to certain people, places, or situations. It would be very difficult to be a serious student of A Course in Miracles, practicing your lessons of forgiveness, all the while holding in the back of your mind the nagging doubt: “What if God abandons me now?” (Of course the ego would like nothing more than this, but that’s another topic!)

Throughout history there have been many people who have maintained their peace in the cruelest of circumstances. Many such stories have come out of the concentration camps, like those involving the Ten Boom sisters, Victor Frankl, etc. From the point of view of the Course, all these people had right-minded experiences, wherein someone elses interests where not seen as separate from their own. This is difficult enough to do on a day-to-day basis here and now, let alone in such extreme circumstances. But it has, and can be done.


Q #79: The relationship I have with my 5 siblings is, for the most part, one of special hate. Our conflicts have been escalating around the care of my mom and the dispersal of her property. I find it easiest simply to disassociate myself from the family and the conflict. This does not give me peace but it does minimize the anxiety. I do know that this is my classroom but I feel like avoiding my family to the point of not attending my mom’s funeral when the time comes. My question is: can I work on forgiveness with my siblings while I am choosing to avoid them?

A: You are wise to recognize that avoiding your siblings does not give you peace or eliminate your anxiety, but only minimizes it. The ego is very clever at offering us ways that seem to reduce the guilt and conflict and fear, through denial or avoidance, so that we never address the problem, thereby assuring that the conflict remains and never is resolved. “Minimizing fear, but not its undoing, is the ego’s constant effort, and is indeed a skill at which it is very ingenious” (T.11.V.9:2).

So it may be becoming apparent to you already that there is no way you can really avoid the conflict, whether or not you are actually in contact or in the physical presence of your siblings. That is because all relationships exist only in the mind and, believe it or not, the real conflict has nothing to do with your siblings. But it has everything to do with what they symbolize for you, because the real conflict also is only within your own mind. And so any changes in your relationships will have to begin first within your mind.

Alluding to this process, Jesus observes, “Everyone makes an ego or a self for himself, which is subject to enormous variation because of its instability. He also makes an ego for everyone else he perceives, which is equally variable. Their interaction is a process that alters both, because they were not made by or with the Unalterable. It is important to realize that this alteration can and does occur as readily when the interaction takes place in the mind as when it involves physical proximity. Thinking about another ego is as effective in changing relative perception as is physical interaction. There could be no better example that the ego is only an idea and not a fact” (T.4.II:2; italics added).

So, yes, you can work on your forgiveness lessons with your siblings without being in contact or around them physically, provided you are not also determined to avoid looking within your own mind at the conflict they represent to you, projected out into the world. Your siblings are providing you with the opportunity to get in touch with the guilt that is buried deep within your own mind that you have not wanted to look at, but have preferred to see outside yourself in others, in this case, your siblings. So once you recognize where the real problem lies, your siblings move from the foreground to the background in the forgiveness process.

What then is the next step in the process? Jesus tells us that “there is a very simple way to find the door to true forgiveness, and perceive it open wide in welcome. When you feel that you are tempted to accuse someone of sin in any form, do not allow your mind to dwell on what you think he did, for that is self-deception. Ask instead, ‘Would I accuse myself of doing this?’” (W.pII.134.9).

To uncover the self-accusation, you simply need to identify, at the level of content rather than the specific form of what your siblings may be doing, what you are accusing them of. It will most likely be some aspect of putting their own self-interests above everyone else’s, wanting to control or manipulate the situation to make sure that their own needs are met, with no real concern for anyone else. And so you need then to be honest with yourself in acknowledging that you at times operate in exactly the same way, even if you may not be in this particular situation involving your mother.

It is then that self-accusation that you will want to bring to Jesus or the Holy Spirit to heal, for Their perception of you will be different from your own. Theirs is a nonjudgmental acceptance that always perceives fear and a call for love in place of attack and sin. When you can share Their perception of yourself, you will release the guilt in your own mind, simultaneously releasing your siblings from the chain of guilt you’ve been binding them with. Now this release is not likely to be total and complete, once and for all, in a single attempt, for our own fear is too great to accept total release for ourselves. When we let the guilt back in, we will need once again to project it. And siblings with whom we have a long history of grievances make easy targets. And so the forgiveness process with your siblings will be a process that will most likely take time. But at least now you know where the real problem lies.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 15

ACIM Text Reading for January 15

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

IV. Healing as Release from Fear
Our emphasis is now on healing. The miracle is the means, the Atonement is the principle, and healing is the result. To speak of “a miracle of healing” is to combine two orders of reality inappropriately. Healing is not a miracle. The Atonement, or the final miracle, is a remedy and any type of healing is a result. The kind of error to which Atonement is applied is irrelevant. All healing is essentially the release from fear. To undertake this you cannot be fearful yourself. You do not understand healing because of your own fear.

A major step in the Atonement plan is to undo error at all levels. Sickness or “not-right-mindedness” is the result of level confusion, because it always entails the belief that what is amiss on one level can adversely affect another. We have referred to miracles as the means of correcting level confusion, for all mistakes must be corrected at the level on which they occur. Only the mind is capable of error. The body can act wrongly only when it is responding to misthought. The body cannot create, and the belief that it can, a fundamental error, produces all physical symptoms. Physical illness represents a belief in magic. The whole distortion that made magic rests on the belief that there is a creative ability in matter which the mind cannot control. This error can take two forms; it can be believed that the mind can miscreate in the body, or that the body can miscreate in the mind. When it is understood that the mind, the only level of creation, cannot create beyond itself, neither type of confusion need occur.

Only the mind can create because spirit has already been created, and the body is a learning device for the mind. Learning devices are not lessons in themselves. Their purpose is merely to facilitate learning. The worst a faulty use of a learning device can do is to fail to facilitate learning. It has no power in itself to introduce actual learning errors. The body, if properly understood, shares the invulnerability of the Atonement to two-edged application. This is not because the body is a miracle, but because it is not inherently open to misinterpretation. The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world. Its abilities can be and frequently are over evaluated. However, it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial. The term “unworthy” here implies only that it is not necessary to protect the mind by denying the unmindful. If one denies this unfortunate aspect of the mind’s power, one is also denying the power itself.

All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles. This is the first step in believing that the body makes its own illness. It is a second misstep to try to heal it through non-creative agents. It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents for corrective purposes is evil. Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement. In this case it may be wise to utilize a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief. This is because the last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear. They are already in a fear-weakened state. If they are prematurely exposed to a miracle, they may be precipitated into panic. This is likely to occur when upside-down perception has induced the belief that miracles are frightening.

The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 15

Lesson 15
My thoughts are images that I have made.

It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them. This is how your “seeing” was made. This is the function you have given your body’s eyes. It is not seeing. It is image making. It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.

This introductory idea to the process of image making that you call seeing will not have much meaning for you. 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. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.

As we go along, you may have many “light episodes.” They may take many different forms, some of them quite unexpected. Do not be afraid of them. They are signs that you are opening your eyes at last. They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge. These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you. But they will prepare the way to it.

In practicing the idea for today, repeat it first to yourself, and then apply it to whatever you see around you, using its name and letting your eyes rest on it as you say:

This ___ is an image that I have made.
That ___ is an image that I have made.

It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today’s idea. It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself. The idea should be repeated quite slowly each time.

Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible. Less than a minute will do for the practice periods, if you begin to feel uneasy. Do not have more than three application periods for today’s idea unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and do not exceed four. However, the idea can be applied as needed throughout the day.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #248: I am studying the section “Healing as Release from Fear” in the text of A Course in Miracles. Can you please help me understand what is meant when Jesus says that “the mind, the only level of creation, cannot create beyond itself” (T.2.IV.2:10). I am unclear about the meaning of “cannot create beyond itself.”

A: In the context of the discussion in this section, the meaning of the passage is that the Christ Mind was created by God and that Mind cannot create something totally different from itself, such as a body. There can be ideas or thoughts in the mind, but they never leave their source in the mind to become something else. The point Jesus is making is that a great deal of our confusion would clear up if we understood that the body and the mind are not two separate entities, and that the body is only an idea in the mind; it has no autonomous capabilities and therefore cannot be sick.

*

Q #999: Why does A Course in Miracles raise so many conflicts? I have never come across any spiritual or psychological practice that focuses so much on our resistance. I understand why the Course does this, but I find it personally unbearable. I guess as even Helen Schucman (the Course’s scribe) was unable to fulfill the Course’s high goals, I can also let it slip by. But is there not another way? I find the Course is a detour into battle. Surely this was not Jesus’ intention!

A: You are correct that Jesus did not intend the Course to be a detour into battle. However, he did mean for it to be a tool that leads us into looking directly at the battle that is already raging within our mind — the battle between our longing to return to God’s Love and our desire to maintain our identity as an individual, autonomous being. For this reason, the Course can seem to cause us to experience more conflict. In reality, it is simply causing us to recognize our own internal war to keep the memory of God’s Love from our awareness.

The fact that we believe we are actually in this dream world shows that we have chosen to align ourselves with the ego and its insistence that we are safer and happier here than we would be in our true home in Heaven. Therefore, it is not surprising that students typically struggle with the Course’s message that nothing in this world will ever make us happy. To the ego, nothing is more unbearable than facing the fact that all the roads of this world “but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death” (T.31.IV.2:3) . However, Jesus is not appealing to us as egos — he is really speaking to the decision making part of our mind that chooses between internal teachers. He is laying out a process for shifting from the ego to the Holy Spirit as our internal guide. Every time we do that, we automatically go from projecting anger, guilt, and attack, to instead extending love and forgiveness.

The goal of the Course, however, is actually not that high or lofty. It is not meant to get us to permanently make that internal shift and become radiant beams of light. Rather, it is meant to help us see that this shift is possible — that the Holy Spirit does exist in our mind — and to motivate us to watch how our own choice against making this shift, rather than anything in the external world, keeps us miserable. This is why the Course states that it is “a beginning, not an end” (W.ep.1:1) . When we approach the Course this way, we will experience it differently — as a source of inspiration rather than guilt.

This also means that we cannot know or judge how another person has been affected by the Course. You brought up the example of Helen Schucman. Certainly the book Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles , makes it clear that she seemed to experience resistance to Jesus’ love. It also makes it clear that she was aware of this resistance and, more often than not, continued to follow his guidance. In that sense, we, as Course students, could view her life as quite inspiring.

One final note: If you find working with the Course to be continually and consistently unbearable, it is possible that it is not the right path for you. Remember that the Course says, “There are many thousands of other forms [i.e. spiritual paths], all with the same outcome” (M.1.4:2) . Ultimately, it is not the form of the path you take that matters; only that you find one that helps you awaken to God’s Love for you and yours for Him (T.4.III.6: 3).

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ACIM Supplemental Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 22

ACIM Supplemental Reading for December 22

A JESUS PRAYER

A Child, a Man and then a Spirit, come
In all Your loveliness. Unless You shine
Upon my life, it is a loss to You,
And what is loss to You is also mine.
I cannot calculate why I am here
Except for this: I know that I have come
To seek You here and find You. In Your life
You show the way to my eternal home.

A child, a man and then a spirit. So
I follow in the way You show to me
That I may come at last to be like You.
What but Your likeness would I want to be?

There is a silence where You speak to me
And give me words of love to say for You
To those You send to me. And I am blessed
Because in them I see You shining through.

There is no gratitude that I can give
For such a gift. The light around Your head
Must speak for me, for I am dumb beside
Your gentle hand with which my soul is led.

I take Your gift in holy hands, for You
Have blessed them with Your own. Come, brothers, see
How like to Christ am I, and I to you
Whom He has blessed and holds as one with me.

A perfect picture of what I can be
You show to me, that I might help renew
Your brothers’ failing sight. As they look up
Let them not look on me, but only You.

By Helen Schucman
February 16, 1976
From The Gifts of God©, pp. 82-3,
Published by the Foundation for Inner Peace

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 22

Lesson 348
I have no cause for anger or for fear,
For You surround me. And in every need
That I perceive, Your grace suffices me.

Father, let me remember You are here, and I am not alone. Surrounding me is everlasting Love. I have no cause for anything except the perfect peace and joy I share with You. What need have I for anger or for fear? Surrounding me is perfect safety. Can I be afraid, when Your eternal promise goes with me? Surrounding me is perfect sinlessness. What can I fear, when You created me in holiness as perfect as Your Own?

God’s grace suffices us in everything that He would have us do. And only that we choose to be our will as well as His.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #156: I am very new to A Course in Miracles, and have read the introduction several times in hopes of having this question answered: Who is authoring the book? Is it the Voice, the Holy Spirit, Christ? Helen states that it is the “Voice” who dictates the text. How is the Voice different from God if it’s God’s Voice? I’m just having problems when the text switches to first person. Mentally, whom do I address? As I’m reading and feeling inspired, my comprehension or absorption of what is being read gets detoured by my mind asking, very loudly, “Who is this?”

A: Helen Schucman identified the “voice” she heard as that of Jesus. There was no doubt in her mind about this as she scribed the Course. (See Question #110) Therefore, the first person statements in the Course do refer to Jesus. The voice is not the voice of God, however. Neither does Jesus state that he is speaking for God. According to the Course, God does not speak words to us in the dream, nor does He “hear our prayers.” The “voice” is different from God because it is part of the dream. It is a reflection of truth, but it is not truth. As so clearly stated in the in the workbook “God is” (W.169.5:4), and in His Being knows only our truth, which is that we are His one Son, who never left Heaven.

The answer to your question lies in understanding the Course’s use of symbols. These symbols include “persons” such as Jesus, the Holy Spirit, as well as images, words, and the Course itself. All are symbols for that part of the mind of the Sonship that remembers God. They reflect the truth of who we are, and in somewhat different ways, they are the reminders of our truth, and the guides who will help us return to God. Specifically, the Course refers to the Holy Spirit as the “Voice for God,” meaning — the Voice that speaks for God, and as “God’s Voice.” Clearly this is a metaphor, since God does not have a voice and, as noted earlier, does not speak to us in the dream. When the Course invites us to “ask” — whether Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or God — it is actually inviting us to turn to our own right mind for guidance. It uses symbols and metaphors, because we are so out of touch with the fact that we have a mind. In its wisdom, the Course has used all its symbols carefully and purposefully. It meets us on our level, using dualistic language for a teaching that reflects nondualism. It seems to imply that God is a person Who hears our prayers, answers us, even “weeps,” yearning for our return. These are all metaphors used to help us understand that we are loved, not condemned for our seeming sin, as the ego would tell us. You may use whichever is most helpful for you.

It is helpful for us to use these images and symbols until we learn that we do indeed have a right mind, and can access it directly. By then we probably will have no need for any symbol and no need to “ask.” We will have accepted the truth about ourselves as spirits, not bodies; innocent, not guilty. The right-minded loving response to any situation will flow through us. It is important, however, to be aware of any resistance, as apparently you have been in your study so far. Our goal in studying and practicing the Course is to learn that we do have a mind, that we do have a choice, that there is another way of looking at any situation in the dream, that our way is based on the belief that separation is real, and that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are here to teach us that there is no separation. Again, it does not matter to whom we address our asking, or what mental image we use. The important thing is that we ask, and not rely on our usual ego interpretation.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for December 11

ACIM Text Reading for December 11

The Poetry of Helen Schucman

BRIGHT STRANGER
Strange was my Love to me. For when He came
I did not know Him. And He seemed to me
To be but an intruder on my peace.
I did not see the gifts He brought, nor heard
His soft appeal. I tried to shut Him out
With locks and keys that merely fell away
Before His coming. I could not escape
The gentleness with which He looked at me.
I asked Him in unwillingly, and turned
Away from Him. But He held out His hand
And asked me to remember Him. In me
An ancient Name began to stir and break
Across my mind in gold. The light embraced
Me deep in silence till He spoke the Word,
And then at last I recognized my Lord.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 11

Lesson 340
I can be free of suffering today.

Father, I thank You for today, and for the freedom I am certain it will bring. This day is holy, for today Your Son will be redeemed. His suffering is done. For he will hear Your Voice directing him to find Christ’s vision through forgiveness, and be free forever from all suffering. Thanks for today, my Father. I was born into this world but to achieve this day, and what it holds in joy and freedom for Your holy Son and for the world he made, which is released along with him today.

Be glad today! Be glad! There is no room for anything but joy and thanks today. Our Father has redeemed His Son this day. Not one of us but will be saved today. Not one who will remain in fear, and none the Father will not gather to Himself, awake in Heaven in the Heart of Love.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1044: My question relates to page 155 of Absence of Felicity where Kenneth states that people experience Jesus differently and that Helen knew Jesus was talking to her because, “He told her the opposite of what she wanted to hear.” I understand that Jesus speaks to each person in an individual way, yet how could something that speaks against someone’s peace be benign? I believe that Jesus would never speak for such things.

A: It is important to know the context of Helen’s comment in order to understand it properly. On the same page you cite in Absence from Felicity , Kenneth states that Helen was keenly aware of her inner conflict — between “Heaven and Helen,” as she described it. Within this framework, “Jesus’ will and her own were always separate,” and therefore she would be aware of what was coming from her — meaning the part of her that was terrified of accepting his love — and what was coming from that loving presence she knew to be Jesus. She was aware that she was resisting the emotional acceptance of what she had accepted intellectually from Jesus. “Helen did believe in the truth of the Course’s teachings, not to mention in the existence of its author. However, she was not able emotionally to accept its truth into her own personal life” (p. 156). This is a crucial distinction. She knew that she would be better off doing what Jesus asked of her; she was just afraid of the consequences of accepting his will unconditionally at all times. Jesus was not speaking against her peace, as you have interpreted her comment to mean. Quite the opposite — she knew she would be better off if she integrated into her daily life what she knew to be the truth intellectually. Kenneth concludes that this integration came “all at once at the moment of her death” (p. 157; see also Chapter 18 where Kenneth describes her final days and death).

Every student of A Course in Miracles is bound to run into this same dilemma. We all have minds split between wanting Jesus to be the central figure in our journey, and a fierce resistance to letting go of the self we think is our identity but which is a false self determined to keep the true Jesus as far away as possible. This intense fear will inevitably cause us to have a distorted experience of his love. That is why he emphasizes so much the need to become aware of these two parts of our minds. It is vital to our progress with the Course to come to know and respect our fear of the truth about us, so that we will not erect even further defenses against it, thus burying it deeper and deeper in our minds. This is what Jesus wants to help us with more than anything, if we will let him. If we do let him, we will be more peaceful, more often, as together we walk the pathway home.

HelenandBillat1W.81stStreetNYC

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 6

ACIM Text Reading for November 6

Clarification of Terms

True Perception – Knowledge

The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever. Some things will last in time a little while longer than others. But the time will come when all things visible will have an end.

The body’s eyes are therefore not the means by which the real world can be seen, for the illusions that they look upon must lead to more illusions of reality. And so they do. For everything they see not only will not last, but lends itself to thoughts of sin and guilt. While everything that God created is forever without sin and therefore is forever without guilt.

Knowledge is not the remedy for false perception since, being another level, they can never meet. The one correction possible for false perception must be true perception. It will not endure. But for the time it lasts it comes to heal. For true perception is a remedy with many names. Forgiveness, salvation, Atonement, true perception, all are one. They are the one beginning, with the end to lead to oneness far beyond themselves. True perception is the means by which the world is saved from sin, for sin does not exist. And it is this that true perception sees.

The world stands like a block before Christ’s face. But true perception looks on it as nothing more than just a fragile veil, so easily dispelled that it can last no longer than an instant. It is seen at last for only what it is. And now it cannot fail to disappear, for now there is an empty place made clean and ready. Where destruction was perceived the face of Christ appears, and in that instant is the world forgot, with time forever ended as the world spins into nothingness from where it came.

A world forgiven cannot last. It was the home of bodies. But forgiveness looks past bodies. This is its holiness; this is how it heals. The world of bodies is the world of sin, for only if there were a body is sin possible. From sin comes guilt as surely as forgiveness takes all guilt away. And once all guilt is gone what more remains to keep a separated world in place? For place has gone as well, along with time. Only the body makes the world seem real, for being separate it could not remain where separation is impossible. Forgiveness proves it is impossible because it sees it not. And what you then will overlook will not be understandable to you, just as its presence once had been your certainty.

This is the shift that true perception brings: What was projected out is seen within, and there forgiveness lets it disappear. For there the altar to the Son is set, and there his Father is remembered. Here are all illusions brought to truth and laid upon the altar. What is seen outside must lie beyond forgiveness, for it seems to be forever sinful. Where is hope while sin is seen as outside? What remedy can guilt expect? But seen within your mind, guilt and forgiveness for an instant lie together, side by side, upon one altar. There at last are sickness and its single remedy joined in one healing brightness. God has come to claim His Own. Forgiveness is complete.

And now God’s knowledge, changeless, certain, pure and wholly understandable, enters its kingdom. Gone is perception, false and true alike. Gone is forgiveness, for its task is done. And gone are bodies in the blazing light upon the altar to the Son of God. God knows it is His Own, as it is his. And here They join, for here the face of Christ has shone away time’s final instant, and now is the last perception of the world without a purpose and without a cause. For where God’s memory has come at last there is no journey, no belief in sin, no walls, no bodies, and the grim appeal of guilt and death is there snuffed out forever.

O my brothers, if you only knew the peace that will envelop you and hold you safe and pure and lovely in the Mind of God, you could but rush to meet Him where His altar is. Hallowed your Name and His, for they are joined here in this holy place. Here He leans down to lift you up to Him, out of illusions into holiness; out of the world and to eternity; out of all fear and given back to love.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 6

Lesson 307

Conflicting wishes cannot be my will.

Father, Your Will is mine, and only that. There is no other will for me to have. Let me not try to make another will, for it is senseless and will cause me pain. Your Will alone can bring me happiness, and only Yours exists. If I would have what only You can give, I must accept Your Will for me, and enter into peace where conflict is impossible. Your Son is one with You in being and in will, and nothing contradicts the holy truth that I remain as You created me.

And with this prayer we enter silently into a state where conflict cannot come, because we join our holy will with God’s, in recognition that they are the same.

***
ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #256: In my relationship with my boss, I am having difficulty knowing the difference between the right and wrong mind. I try to practice the principles of generosity, tolerance, and patience described in the Manual for Teachers, but we have communication problems regarding my salary. My earnings change at his whim, making me feel powerless and underpaid. I am afraid that I will lose my job if I ask for what I think is really my due. Though money is not everything to me, I read in the Psychotherapy pamphlet that an unhealed healer may demand money where the Holy Spirit might guide otherwise.
I seem to be afraid of everything and always at fault somewhere. Is this the pain of a special relationship? Can you tell me if I am trying to be too good? Am I trying to apply the principles of A Course in Miracles with the ego, fearing the true guidance of the Holy Spirit? Do I suffer from an inverse form of poverty, which expresses itself in false generosity?

A: In studying the Course, it is important to remember that it speaks to us on different levels. We are learning to undo the ego thought system with which we have identified, while learning an entirely new way of perceiving. We seem to have a foot in two worlds and this can be very confusing. The wrong mind sees the problem as outside of the mind caused by an external agent, in this case your boss. The right mind recognizes that the cause is in the mind and the world of form is the effect. It does not blame any situation on anything outside of the mind. An easy way to distinguish which part of the mind has been chosen, is to ask if you are attributing the cause of your upset to something outside of yourself. This is a simple way of distinguishing the wrong mind from the right mind. Recognizing that the cause of any upset is a choice in the mind is the beginning of right minded thinking. It is not the whole story, but it is a beginning.

Since we still believe we are separate, individual bodies in the world, we have to deal with the world and our relationships accordingly. We continue to do whatever we must do to meet our perceived needs in the body. There is nothing wrong with working out an agreement with your boss about your salary. You can be honest about what you feel would be a just wage, and perhaps request a schedule for changes so your salary doesn’t fluctuate unpredictably, if that is possible. This is no different from any of the things we do to take care of the body. The Course does not give any guidelines for behavior on the level of form. Rather, it is teaching us to expose the thoughts and judgments we hold about ourselves and others in our minds, so the mind can be healed. Only then will the characteristics of a teacher of God, described in the Manual, flow naturally from the healed mind. They are not meant to be “exercised” or “practiced” while there are underlying beliefs that oppose them. The practice of the Course rests in finding all the hidden beliefs that are in operation in your relationship with your boss, and with everyone. These are the beliefs in separation, scarcity, and victimization that do in fact make all our relationships special. The way to undo the specialness is to expose the beliefs by recognizing them and bringing them to the Holy Spirit to be transformed. We are not being asked to practice holy qualities that we do not in fact possess, such as detachment from material wealth or other “virtuous” mind sets. We are not being asked to be “good” at all (by the way, neither are we expected to go out of our way to “bad”). We are asked only to look at our beliefs with a willingness to have them transformed. That is not always as easy as it seems, because we have such a desire to hold on to them. We are asked to become aware of our attachment to these beliefs and how much we do not want them to be changed. We cling to them in spite of the guilt and pain they cause. Actually it is because of the guilt and pain that we do cling to them. This is what the Course refers to as the attraction of guilt: “The sick attraction of guilt must be recognized for what it is. For having been made real to you, it is essential to look at it clearly, and by withdrawing your investment in it, to learn to let it go” (T.15.VII.3:1,2).

This is the guidance the Holy Spirit gives. There is no imposition of His thought system, and no behavior in the world that is required. Behind all concerns about money, poverty, and injustice is the feeling of lack and deprivation that comes from the belief that our separation from God has truly been accomplished. That is the fundamental belief that the Holy Spirit is inviting us to question. It is the belief that underlies all the conflict with your boss. While you work with your boss toward reaching an agreement about your salary, you can apply the teachings of the Course by being very honest with yourself about what you are feeling, and the thoughts of judgment that occur to you. These thoughts and feelings represent the choice to identify with the ego’s thought system in the mind, which is where healing is needed. When they are brought to the light of the Holy Spirit they are gradually transformed and replaced with His peace. Only then will the issue of more or less money be irrelevant, and generosity, tolerance, and patience will replace all fear. Until that point is reached, honesty with yourself about your perceived needs, and honesty with your boss in searching for an agreement is the best place for practicing the Course. Believing that an agreement is possible is already a recognition that to some extent you and your boss do not have separate interests. And that is the beginning of healing. 

this is practical course

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 16

ACIM Text Reading for October 16

Manual for Teachers

13. What Is the Real Meaning of Sacrifice?

Although in truth the term sacrifice is altogether meaningless, it does have meaning in the world. Like all things in the world, its meaning is temporary and will ultimately fade into the nothingness from which it came when there is no more use for it. Now its real meaning is a lesson. Like all lessons it is an illusion, for in reality there is nothing to learn. Yet this illusion must be replaced by a corrective device; another illusion that replaces the first, so both can finally disappear. The first illusion, which must be displaced before another thought system can take hold, is that it is a sacrifice to give up the things of this world. What could this be but an illusion, since this world itself is nothing more than that?

It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact that the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean? It cannot mean that you have less because of it. There is no sacrifice in the world’s terms that does not involve the body. Think a while about what the world calls sacrifice. Power, fame, money, physical pleasure; who is the “hero” to whom all these things belong? Could they mean anything except to a body? Yet a body cannot evaluate. By seeking after such things the mind associates itself with the body, obscuring its Identity and losing sight of what it really is.

Once this confusion has occurred, it becomes impossible for the mind to understand that all the “pleasures” of the world are nothing. But what a sacrifice,–and it is sacrifice indeed!–all this entails. Now has the mind condemned itself to seek without finding; to be forever dissatisfied and discontented; to know not what it really wants to find. Who can escape this self-condemnation? Only through God’s Word could this be possible. For self-condemnation is a decision about identity, and no one doubts what he believes he is. He can doubt all things, but never this.

God’s teachers can have no regret on giving up the pleasures of the world. Is it a sacrifice to give up pain? Does an adult resent the giving up of children’s toys? Does one whose vision has already glimpsed the face of Christ look back with longing on a slaughter house? No one who has escaped the world and all its ills looks back on it with condemnation. Yet he must rejoice that he is free of all the sacrifice its values would demand of him. To them he sacrifices all his peace. To them he sacrifices all his freedom. And to possess them must he sacrifice his hope of Heaven and remembrance of his Father’s Love. Who in his sane mind chooses nothing as a substitute for everything?

What is the real meaning of sacrifice? It is the cost of believing in illusions. It is the price that must be paid for the denial of truth. There is no pleasure of the world that does not demand this, for otherwise the pleasure would be seen as pain, and no one asks for pain if he recognizes it. It is the idea of sacrifice that makes him blind. He does not see what he is asking for. And so he seeks it in a thousand ways and in a thousand places, each time believing it is there, and each time disappointed in the end. “Seek but do not find” remains this world’s stern decree, and no one who pursues the world’s goals can do otherwise.

You may believe this course requires sacrifice of all you really hold dear. In one sense this is true, for you hold dear the things that crucify God’s Son, and it is the course’s aim to set him free. But do not be mistaken about what sacrifice means. It always means the giving up of what you want. And what, O teacher of God, is it that you want? You have been called by God, and you have answered. Would you now sacrifice that Call? Few have heard it as yet, and they can but turn to you. There is no other hope in all the world that they can trust. There is no other voice in all the world that echoes God’s. If you would sacrifice the truth, they stay in hell. And if they stay, you will remain with them.

Do not forget that sacrifice is total. There are no half sacrifices. You cannot give up Heaven partially. You cannot be a little bit in hell. The Word of God has no exceptions. It is this that makes it holy and beyond the world. It is its holiness that points to God. It is its holiness that makes you safe. It is denied if you attack any brother for anything. For it is here the split with God occurs. A split that is impossible. A split that cannot happen. Yet a split in which you surely will believe, because you have set up a situation that is impossible. And in this situation the impossible can seem to happen. It seems to happen at the “sacrifice” of truth.

Teacher of God, do not forget the meaning of sacrifice, and remember what each decision you make must mean in terms of cost. Decide for God, and everything is given you at no cost at all. Decide against Him, and you choose nothing, at the expense of the awareness of everything. What would you teach? Remember only what you would learn. For it is here that your concern should be. Atonement is for you. Your learning claims it and your learning gives it. The world contains it not. But learn this course and it is yours. God holds out His Word to you, for He has need of teachers. What other way is there to save His Son?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 16

Lesson 288

Let me forget my brother’s past today.

This is the thought that leads the way to You, and brings me to my goal. I cannot come to You without my brother. And to know my Source, I first must recognize what You created one with me. My brother’s is the hand that leads me on the way to You. His sins are in the past along with mine, and I am saved because the past is gone. Let me not cherish it within my heart, or I will lose the way to walk to You. My brother is my savior. Let me not attack the savior You have given me. But let me honor him who bears Your Name, and so remember that It is my own.

Forgive me, then, today. And you will know you have forgiven me if you behold your brother in the light of holiness. He cannot be less holy than can I, and you can not be holier than he.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #190: A two-part question regarding the ‘script’ of our lives:

i: If I choose my parents, nationality, sex, time I live in before I’m born, what contingencies are there in my life? Many or none? Is it all spelled out beforehand so all I’m choosing at each moment is crucifixion or resurrection? What, in other words, is not written beforehand?

ii: What role does the right mind have in choosing all of the above beforehand?

A: We set certain seemingly unchangeable parameters for each lifetime, including those you list above. But even some of these can shift as the mind chooses: one learns as an adult that he or she was adopted; someone opts for a sex change operation, etc. Part of the ego’s seductive allurement is that we do have choice at the level of form and this is the great distraction. For we believe the problem of our guilt over separation, which remains buried in our mind, can be resolved “by making some sort of insane ‘arrangement’ with the world” (T.12.III.6:5) — what A Course in Miracles calls magic (M.16.8,9,11). So the ego maintains the illusion of choice at the level of form, keeping hidden from us the fact that we are always choosing the same content: separation and guilt. And we never address the real underlying problem of the guilt in our mind.

Now it is true that the Course teaches that everything has already happened and that linear time is not real — everything is already written beforehand (W.pI.158.3,4). But that does not mean that everything in an individual lifetime is predetermined. The pool of possible events is predetermined, but we have a moment-by-moment choice about which relationships and events we will access and review (for a more extended discussion of this, see Question #37).

Despite all these options, the most helpful frame of reference we can adopt is to remember that, regardless of the possibilities on the level of form, the only real choice we are confronted with in each moment is the one between crucifixion and resurrection.

Since we always have a right mind while we still believe in the reality of separation, we have the option of turning to our right mind about any decision we are making, including how to approach a new relationship, a new career, or a new lifetime. The distinction between before and during a lifetime is really an arbitrary one that our ego mind wishes to reinforce, making the state of our mind seem somehow qualitatively different during this lifetime from the state of the mind when this lifetime is still only an option being considered. And so, as with every choice, we can make it with either the ego or the Holy Spirit as our teacher. And as most of us do, we may vacillate between the wrong mind and the right mind, sometimes making choices based on our desire for specialness and sometimes choosing in order to learn our lessons of forgiveness. This is true, from the perspective of illusory linear time, both before and during each lifetime Again, whether we are choosing the parameters for an upcoming lifetime or the parameters within a current lifetime, the options and the process in the mind remain the same.


Q #191: I would like to know your opinion on “special relationships.” Is every relationship in which there is love a special one? The relationship with your children for instance? Is it enough that only one in the relationship have knowledge about A Course in Miracles?

A: The Course tells us that every relationship, whether we define it as a love or hate relationship, is special. The ego uses every relationship to project guilt onto another for our decision to separate from God. Using the relationship for purposes of projection is an attack, which the Course calls hate. Every special relationship is therefore actually a hate relationship, camouflaged in some cases as “love.” The ego identifies every person as a body, and relates to each one as a body, which according to the Course is another form of attack on the Son of God, who is not a body. The projection of guilt and perception of body identity are fundamental characteristics of the special relationship. Although we may be unaware of them, these are the dynamics at work in every relationship. It is difficult to apply this concept to our relationships with our children because the world has glorified parenthood, and we use children and family relationships to express “love” as defined by the ego. The care, concern, and attention that is given to children is not love as the Course defines it; they are part of the dynamic the ego has set up as “pseudo love,” which is actually a substitute for God’s love. This substitution is another important characteristic of the special relationship. Anyone or anything that is used in an attempt to fill the void left by our seeming separation from God is what the Course calls special. Children fit the ego’s plan perfectly because they come into the world totally dependent on the care of others, having been given “life” by parents who will hopefully meet all their needs for growth and sustenance. Part of the parenthood dysfunction is the belief, on the part of parents, that children will meet their needs as well. This mutual dependency, in which each agrees to sacrifice in order to have their own needs met, is the “bargain” that the ego claims will keep everyone safe and “happy.” It sometimes seems to work, frequently it is beset with great pain and conflict, driven by intense feelings of guilt. The Course gives us a vivid description: “All special relationships have sin as their goal. For they are bargains with reality, toward which the seeming union is adjusted. Forget not this; to bargain is to set a limit, and any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate. You may attempt to keep the bargain in the name of “fairness,” sometimes demanding payment of yourself, perhaps more often of the other. Thus in the “fairness” you attempt to ease the guilt that comes from the accepted purpose of the relationship. And that is why the Holy Spirit must change its purpose to make it useful to Him and harmless to you” (T.21.III.1).

In this, as with everything the Course teaches, it is enough that only one person in the relationship be a student of the Course. The practice of the Course’s teaching requires only that the individual look carefully at all the thoughts of judgment in any relationship, and recognize the ego’s purpose at work in all of them. The purpose is always to make the separation real, and strengthen our belief that we can make a world of our own that will meet our needs better than God ever could. We do not do this for anyone but ourselves. When we recognize the ego’s ploys, and begin to realize that our pain is actually coming from our alliance with the ego’s thought system of separation, guilt, and attack, we have the opportunity to turn to the Holy Spirit, whose thought system reinterprets everything the ego has made, and ask for help. The help is not to change anyone else in the dream, but for ourselves to accept His purpose. Although this may not bring about any change in form in our relationships, the purpose will be transformed: “…the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them. And all that is meant by that is that He will restore to them the function given them by God. The function you have given them is clearly not to make happy. But the holy relationship shares God’s purpose, rather than aiming to make a substitute for it. Every special relationship you have made is a substitute for God’s Will, and glorifies yours instead of His because of the illusion that they are different” (T.17.IV.2:3,4,5,6,7). Eventually, as this is practiced more and more the pain of special relationships will be replaced by the peace of the holy relationship.

complete forgiveness

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 1

ACIM Text Reading for October 1

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VII. The Savior’s Vision

Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful, nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognize. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation’s task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world’s concepts are the guilty “bad”; the “good” are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the “good” to pardon him the “bad.” Nor does he trust the “good” in anyone, believing that the “bad” must lurk behind. This concept emphasizes treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the “bad” in you.

You could not recognize your “evil” thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another “crime.” You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed. Your “evil” thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer do you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you give your trust to what is good in him, you give it to the good in you.

In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the “baser” part of you, and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself, when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid that God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.

You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself, which can be interchanged but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself, because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you. For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.

Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him, that you may not be frightened by your “evil” thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself that now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand, that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one that brings the peace of God.

The concept of yourself that now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed, unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace, that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world, instead of as salvation’s enemy?

The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images, because you look on them as through a barrier that dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness, and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release; the sight, the vision and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you, and the universe with them.

Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a savior to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself, and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon, to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ, and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this one. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.

The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error; that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself that holds him off from you, and you away from him. The sword of judgment is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is, and thus what you must be.

What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable, and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a savior to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial savior would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given you to save are but everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are; all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet; the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.

Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the savior of the Son of God? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within, and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon, that he may be what they expect of him. This is the savior’s vision; that he see his innocence in all he looks upon, and see his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.

Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not. And from that wish a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you. For seeing can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see, or keep yourself apart and separate.

The savior’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgment made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognizing this, it merely asks, “What is the meaning of what I behold?” Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.

Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear. This is temptation; nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.

Let not the world’s light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the savior’s vision is withheld and what they see is death. Their savior stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes, and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, “Release My Son!” be tempted not to listen, when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 1

Lesson 273

The stillness of the peace of God is mine.

Perhaps we are now ready for a day of undisturbed tranquility. If this is not yet feasible, we are content and even more than satisfied to learn how such a day can be achieved. If we give way to a disturbance, let us learn how to dismiss it and return to peace. We need but tell our minds, with certainty, “The stillness of the peace of God is mine,” and nothing can intrude upon the peace that God Himself has given to His Son.

Father, Your peace is mine. What need have I to fear that anything can rob me of what You would have me keep? I cannot lose Your gifts to me. And so the peace You gave Your Son is with me still, in quietness and in my own eternal love for You.

***
ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #34: From what I understand, anyone who reaches or experiences the state of the real world would not need or do anything external. Still, is it possible to “create” something artistic in this world (like a piece of music, a poem, etc.) out of pure need to share the state of happiness?

A: Being in the real world means that you know that you are not a body and that the physical world is not real. You know that your identity — as well as everyone else’s — has nothing to do with either the body or the world. It is a state of mind in which the ego thought system is no longer present and therefore there is no decision-making aspect, because there no longer are two thought systems to choose between. The content of the mind is purely the Holy Spirit’s thought system of love.

Consequently, in this state of mind there would be no I that would experience a need to do something. It is not that your body would not do anything, but that “you” would not be the agent of the “doing.” The Holy Spirit’s love would flow through you, and so your experience would be that “you” are not doing anything. Remember, our journey into “the far country” has been a journey away from the state of oneness and into a state of physical individuality. Therefore our journey back is a journey toward selflessness, characterized by our re-acceptance of the truth that God’s Son is one and invulnerable. Just before the dream of separation disappears totally, we would reach the state of knowing once and for all that bodies and the world are totally unreal. They are nothing other than the dreams of a mind that has fallen asleep, and therefore nothing happening in the dreams truly matters. It matters only to the figures in the dream. But a healed mind would know that even the dream itself never really happened.

If that is your state of mind, how then could there be any need to be creative? The love of the Holy Spirit would extend through you to those who still think they are separate from that love, and in some way are calling out for it. But you would not direct that process. There no longer is that kind of a “you.” If the artist’s experience is “I am profoundly happy. I want others who are not happy to share what I am experiencing,” chances are that that is coming from the ego, because there is separation in the perception. If you experience a need to share love, you are making the error real. If the artistic impulse is coming from the Holy Spirit or from Jesus, there would be no sense of urgency, and the artist would not experience himself or herself as the agent of the work produced, nor would there be any concern over whether and how it is received. Love naturally extends of itself, and that extension of love might be expressed through art in some form, but that is far different from “creating,” as you stated, “something artistic in this world…out of pure need to share the state of happiness.” That could well be the ego sneaking in the back door to retrieve part of its self-importance that was starting to slip away.


kingdom of god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 29

ACIM Text Reading for September 29
Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision
V. Self Concept versus Self

The learning of the world is built upon a concept of the self adjusted to the world’s reality. It fits it well. For this an image is that suits a world of shadows and illusions. Here it walks at home, where what it sees is one with it. The building of a concept of the self is what the learning of the world is for. This is its purpose; that you come without a self, and make one as you go along. And by the time you reach “maturity” you have perfected it, to meet the world on equal terms, at one with its demands.

A concept of the self is made by you. It bears no likeness to yourself at all. It is an idol, made to take the place of your reality as Son of God. The concept of the self the world would teach is not the thing that it appears to be. For it is made to serve two purposes, but one of which the mind can recognize. The first presents the face of innocence, the aspect acted on. It is this face that smiles and charms and even seems to love. It searches for companions and it looks, at times with pity, on the suffering, and sometimes offers solace. It believes that it is good within an evil world.

This aspect can grow angry, for the world is wicked and unable to provide the love and shelter innocence deserves. And so this face is often wet with tears at the injustices the world accords to those who would be generous and good. This aspect never makes the first attack. But every day a hundred little things make small assaults upon its innocence, provoking it to irritation, and at last to open insult and abuse.

The face of innocence the concept of the self so proudly wears can tolerate attack in self-defense, for is it not a well-known fact the world deals harshly with defenseless innocence? No one who makes a picture of himself omits this face, for he has need of it. The other side he does not want to see. Yet it is here the learning of the world has set its sights, for it is here the world’s “reality” is set, to see to it the idol lasts.

Beneath the face of innocence there is a lesson that the concept of the self was made to teach. It is a lesson in a terrible displacement, and a fear so devastating that the face that smiles above it must forever look away, lest it perceive the treachery it hides. The lesson teaches this: “I am the thing you made of me, and as you look on me, you stand condemned because of what I am.” On this conception of the self the world smiles with approval, for it guarantees the pathways of the world are safely kept, and those who walk on them will not escape.

Here is the central lesson that ensures your brother is condemned eternally. For what you are has now become his sin. For this is no forgiveness possible. No longer does it matter what he does, for your accusing finger points to him, unwavering and deadly in its aim. It points to you as well, but this is kept still deeper in the mists below the face of innocence. And in these shrouded vaults are all his sins and yours preserved and kept in darkness, where they cannot be perceived as errors, which the light would surely show. You can be neither blamed for what you are, nor can you change the things it makes you do. Your brother then is symbol of your sins to you who are but silently, and yet with ceaseless urgency, condemning still your brother for the hated thing you are.

Concepts are learned. They are not natural. Apart from learning they do not exist. They are not given, so they must be made. Not one of them is true, and many come from feverish imaginations, hot with hatred and distortions born of fear. What is a concept but a thought to which its maker gives a meaning of his own? Concepts maintain the world. But they can not be used to demonstrate the world is real. For all of them are made within the world, born in its shadow, growing in its ways and finally “maturing” in its thought. They are ideas of idols, painted with the brushes of the world, which cannot make a single picture representing truth.

A concept of the self is meaningless, for no one here can see what it is for, and therefore cannot picture what it is. Yet is all learning that the world directs begun and ended with the single aim of teaching you this concept of yourself, that you will choose to follow this world’s laws, and never seek to go beyond its roads nor realize the way you see yourself. Now must the Holy Spirit find a way to help you see this concept of the self must be undone, if any peace of mind is to be given you. Nor can it be unlearned except by lessons aimed to teach that you are something else. For otherwise, you would be asked to make exchange of what you now believe for total loss of self, and greater terror would arise in you.

Thus are the Holy Spirit’s lesson plans arranged in easy steps, that though there be some lack of ease at times and some distress, there is no shattering of what was learned, but just a re-translation of what seems to be the evidence on its behalf. Let us consider, then, what proof there is that you are what your brother made of you. For even though you do not yet perceive that this is what you think, you surely learned by now that you behave as if it were. Does he react for you? And does he know exactly what would happen? Can he see your future and ordain, before it comes, what you should do in every circumstance? He must have made the world as well as you to have such prescience in the things to come.

That you are what your brother made of you seems most unlikely. Even if he did, who gave the face of innocence to you? Is this your contribution? Who is, then, the “you” who made it? And who is deceived by all your goodness, and attacks it so? Let us forget the concept’s foolishness, and merely think of this; there are two parts to what you think yourself to be. If one were generated by your brother, who was there to make the other? And from whom must something be kept hidden? If the world be evil, there is still no need to hide what you are made of. Who is there to see? And what but is attacked could need defense?

Perhaps the reason why this concept must be kept in darkness is that, in the light, the one who would not think it true is you. And what would happen to the world you see, if all its underpinnings were removed? Your concept of the world depends upon this concept of the self. And both would go, if either one were ever raised to doubt. The Holy Spirit does not seek to throw you into panic. So He merely asks if just a little question might be raised.

There are alternatives about the thing that you must be. You might, for instance, be the thing you chose to have your brother be. This shifts the concept of the self from what is wholly passive, and at least makes way for active choice, and some acknowledgment that interaction must have entered in. There is some understanding that you chose for both of you, and what he represents has meaning that was given it by you. It also shows some glimmering of sight into perception’s law that what you see reflects the state of the perceiver’s mind. Yet who was it that did the choosing first? If you are what you chose your brother be, alternatives were there to choose among, and someone must have first decided on the one to choose, and let the other go.

Although this step has gains, it does not yet approach a basic question. Something must have gone before these concepts of the self. And something must have done the learning which gave rise to them. Nor can this be explained by either view. The main advantage of the shifting to the second from the first is that you somehow entered in the choice by your decision. But this gain is paid in almost equal loss, for now you stand accused of guilt for what your brother is. And you must share his guilt, because you chose it for him in the image of your own. While only he was treacherous before, now must you be condemned along with him.

The concept of the self has always been the great preoccupation of the world. And everyone believes that he must find the answer to the riddle of himself. Salvation can be seen as nothing more than the escape from concepts. It does not concern itself with content of the mind, but with the simple statement that it thinks. And what can think has choice, and can be shown that different thoughts have different consequence. So it can learn that everything it thinks reflects the deep confusion that it feels about how it was made and what it is. And vaguely does the concept of the self appear to answer what it does not know.

Seek not your Self in symbols. There can be no concept that can stand for what you are. What matters it which concept you accept while you perceive a self that interacts with evil, and reacts to wicked things? Your concept of yourself will still remain quite meaningless. And you will not perceive that you can interact but with yourself. To see a guilty world is but the sign your learning has been guided by the world, and you behold it as you see yourself. The concept of the self embraces all you look upon, and nothing is outside of this perception. If you can be hurt by anything, you see a picture of your secret wishes. Nothing more than this. And in your suffering of any kind you see your own concealed desire to kill.

You will make many concepts of the self as learning goes along. Each one will show the changes in your own relationships, as your perception of yourself is changed. There will be some confusion every time there is a shift, but be you thankful that the learning of the world is loosening its grasp upon your mind. And be you sure and happy in the confidence that it will go at last, and leave your mind at peace. The role of the accuser will appear in many places and in many forms. And each will seem to be accusing you. Yet have no fear it will not be undone.

The world can teach no images of you unless you want to learn them. There will come a time when images have all gone by, and you will see you know not what you are. It is to this unsealed and open mind that truth returns, unhindered and unbound. Where concepts of the self have been laid by is truth revealed exactly as it is. When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this:

“I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing,
where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself.”

Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 29
Lesson 271
Section 6. What is the Christ?

Christ is God’s Son as He created Him. He is the Self we share, uniting us with one another, and with God as well. He is the Thought which still abides within the Mind that is His Source. He has not left His holy home, nor lost the innocence in which He was created. He abides unchanged forever in the Mind of God.

Christ is the link that keeps you one with God, and guarantees that separation is no more than an illusion of despair, for hope forever will abide in Him. Your mind is part of His, and His of yours. He is the part in which God’s Answer lies; where all decisions are already made, and dreams are over. He remains untouched by anything the body’s eyes perceive. For though in Him His Father placed the means for your salvation, yet does He remain the Self Who, like His Father, knows no sin.

Home of the Holy Spirit, and at home in God alone, does Christ remain at peace within the Heaven of your holy mind. This is the only part of you that has reality in truth. The rest is dreams. Yet will these dreams be given unto Christ, to fade before His glory and reveal your holy Self, the Christ, to you at last.

The Holy Spirit reaches from the Christ in you to all your dreams, and bids them come to Him, to be translated into truth. He will exchange them for the final dream which God appointed as the end of dreams. For when forgiveness rests upon the world and peace has come to every Son of God, what could there be to keep things separate, for what remains to see except Christ’s face?

And how long will this holy face be seen, when it is but the symbol that the time for learning now is over, and the goal of the Atonement has been reached at last? So therefore let us seek to find Christ’s face and look on nothing else. As we behold His glory, will we know we have no need of learning or perception or of time, or anything except the holy Self, the Christ Whom God created as His Son.


Lesson 271

Christ’s is the vision I will use today.

Each day, each hour, every instant, I am choosing what I want to look upon, the sounds I want to hear, the witnesses to what I want to be the truth for me. Today I choose to look upon what Christ would have me see, to listen to God’s Voice, and seek the witnesses to what is true in God’s creation. In Christ’s sight, the world and God’s creation meet, and as they come together all perception disappears. His kindly sight redeems the world from death, for nothing that He looks on but must live, remembering the Father and the Son; Creator and creation unified.

Father, Christ’s vision is the way to You. What He beholds invites Your memory to be restored to me. And this I choose, to be what I would look upon today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #186: In Chapter 31 of A Course in Miracles, Section V, “Self-Concept vs Self,” Jesus says, “The role of the accuser will appear in many places and in many forms. And each will seem to be accusing you” (T.31.V.16:5,6). Can you explain what is meant by this?

A: As earlier parts of this section make clear, each judgment we hold against another is really a deeply buried self-accusation. Perhaps most graphic is the following; “No longer does it matter what he does, for your accusing finger points to him, unwavering in its deadly aim. It points to you as well, but this is kept deeper in the mists below the face of innocence” (T.31.V.6:4,5).

The section then goes on (T.31.V.15,16) to discuss how we will assume various concepts or roles for our self-identity over time (e.g., child, sibling, student, lover, spouse, parent, employee, boss) — all the while believing that we are a victim in these various relationships, treated unfairly by a world of evil that exists outside ourselves. But all the accusations we hold against others as we assume the various roles of our lives (i.e., “the role of the accuser…in many places and in many forms”) really represent the hidden accusations of guilt and sin over the original separation thought and all its seeming ramifications that we hold against ourselves. And so as we accept and put into practice the Course’s teaching on projection, it will now seem that the finger we have pointed at others is, in each case, now pointing at ourselves. But the reality of our true Self is beyond all these roles and concepts And so Jesus reassures us, “Yet have no fear it [each role] will not be undone” (T.31.V.16:7). For none of the images of good or evil that we have made of both our brother and ourselves is real. And when we no longer want any of them, we will know Who we truly are (T.31.V.17).


Q #187: So what happens when one is finally able to let go of one’s ego? Does one, as an individual, cease to exist? I know I am attached to my individuality. I like my life, basically. I don’t want to disappear into….what? I like the world and think it is beautiful. I don’t want the world to disappear. What happens when our bodies die? What happens when we awake from the dream? Do we awake from the dream when our bodies die?

A: You can rest assured that so long as you want an individual self and the world to be your reality, they will be. Jesus makes this clear in a number of passages. Speaking of the world we see, he says, “…you invented it. You can give it up as easily as you made it up. You will see it or not see it, as you wish. While you want it you will see it; when you no longer want it, it will not be there for you to see” (W.pI.32.1:2,3,4,5). And later in the workbook, “There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release….It is not pride which tells you that you made the world you see, and that it changes as you change your mind” (W.pI.132.5:1,5). And earlier in the text, he assures us, “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T.16.VI.8:1).

So you are not at this point looking for release — that is fine. Jesus has no judgment about that. He may question your sanity (T.23.II.13:4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13). But he does not judge you for preferring the world to his love. Most of us do not recognize or believe that this is the choice we are making. And so one of the purposes of A Course in Miracles is to help us see that we are choosing the world and our individual self, and that choice represents a choice against love and peace. Genuine love and peace can only be found in unity, not in separation and differences.

If the world still holds great appeal for you, the Course will be less desirable as a spiritual path. It will teach you the value of letting go of your judgments and, as a result, of having less pain, guilt and anxiety in your relationships. But the metaphysics that is the Course’s foundation for forgiveness asserts the unreality of the separation, the individual self, and the world. Such a teaching runs counter to your expressed preference for the world and at some point you may experience conflict. But the truth is, none of us would find ourselves here in the world if it were not our preference and our choice, as the passages cited above make clear.

So what is most important is that you are honest with yourself and Jesus about what you want right now and how you feel. If, over time, you come to accept that the choice you are making has a cost to you, you can reconsider your decision at that point.

When you are ready to release completely your identification with the ego self and the world, which is its defense, nothing really will happen. You will simply experience a profound shift in perception. Death has nothing to do with this shift anymore than birth has. The death of the body does not change the decision being made in the mind to be separate — it may in fact reinforce that choice, if the death in any way feels like a punishment or a deprivation or an escape. And then we will simply choose another lifetime to continue our experience of individuality and specialness.

Everything is happening in the mind and when your mind lets go of the ego, you will simply awaken to the fact that you have only been dreaming a dream of separation, And so there is no separation, no separate self and no external world. The dream may appear to continue, but you will not take it seriously, knowing it is simply a fantasy or illusion that has no real meaning or effects. You will know you are limitless mind and not a limited bodily self. And the joy that comes from the realization that the mind is truly one will make whatever joy and beauty the world seemed to offer you before seem like a pale, lifeless shadow in comparison.

See also Question #68 for a discussion of the relationship between the mind and death of the body.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 28

ACIM Text Reading for September 28

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

IV. The Real Alternative

There is a tendency to think the world can offer consolation and escape from problems that its purpose is to keep. Why should this be? Because it is a place where choice among illusions seems to be the only choice. And you are in control of outcomes of your choosing. Thus you think, within the narrow band from birth to death, a little time is given you to use for you alone; a time when everyone conflicts with you, but you can choose which road will lead you out of conflict, and away from difficulties that concern you not. Yet they are your concern. How, then, can you escape from them by leaving them behind? What must go with you, you will take with you whatever road you choose to walk along.

Real choice is no illusion. But the world has none to offer. All its roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death. There is no choice in its alternatives. Seek not escape from problems here. The world was made that problems could not be escaped. Be not deceived by all the different names its roads are given. They have but one end. And each is but the means to gain that end, for it is here that all its roads will lead, however differently they seem to start; however differently they seem to go. Their end is certain, for there is no choice among them. All of them will lead to death. On some you travel gaily for a while, before the bleakness enters. And on some the thorns are felt at once. The choice is not what will the ending be, but when it comes.

There is no choice where every end is sure. Perhaps you would prefer to try them all, before you really learn they are but one. The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when everyone begins to see how like they are to one another. Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope. And yet this was the time they could have learned their greatest lesson. All must reach this point, and go beyond it. It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself. The lesson has a purpose, and in this you come to understand what it is for.

Why would you seek to try another road, another person or another place, when you have learned the way the lesson starts, but do not yet perceive what it is for? Its purpose is the answer to the search that all must undertake who still believe there is another answer to be found. Learn now, without despair, there is no hope of answer in the world. But do not judge the lesson that is but begun with this. Seek not another signpost in the world that seems to point to still another road. No longer look for hope where there is none. Make fast your learning now, and understand you but waste time unless you go beyond what you have learned to what is yet to learn. For from this lowest point will learning lead to heights of happiness, in which you see the purpose of the lesson shining clear, and perfectly within your learning grasp.

Who would be willing to be turned away from all the roadways of the world, unless he understood their real futility? Is it not needful that he should begin with this, to seek another way instead? For while he sees a choice where there is none, what power of decision can he use? The great release of power must begin with learning where it really has a use. And what decision has power if it be applied in situations without choice?

The learning that the world can offer but one choice, no matter what its form may be, is the beginning of acceptance that there is a real alternative instead. To fight against this step is to defeat your purpose here. You did not come to learn to find a road the world does not contain. The search for different pathways in the world is but the search for different forms of truth. And this would keep the truth from being reached.

Think not that happiness is ever found by following a road away from it. This makes no sense, and cannot be the way. To you who seem to find this course to be too difficult to learn, let me repeat that to achieve a goal you must proceed in its direction, not away from it. And every road that leads the other way will not advance the purpose to be found. If this be difficult to understand, then is this course impossible to learn. But only then. For otherwise, it is a simple teaching in the obvious.

There is a choice that you have power to make when you have seen the real alternatives. Until that point is reached you have no choice, and you can but decide how you would choose the better to deceive yourself again. This course attempts to teach no more than that the power of decision cannot lie in choosing different forms of what is still the same illusion and the same mistake. All choices in the world depend on this; you choose between your brother and yourself, and you will gain as much as he will lose, and what you lose is what is given him. How utterly opposed to truth is this, when all the lesson’s purpose is to teach that what your brother loses you have lost, and what he gains is what is given you.

He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love. No pathway in the world can lead to Him, nor any worldly goal be one with His. What road in all the world will lead within, when every road was made to separate the journey from the purpose it must have unless it be but futile wandering? All roads that lead away from what you are will lead you to confusion and despair. Yet has He never left His Thoughts to die, without their Source forever in themselves.

He has not left His Thoughts! He could no more depart from them than they could keep Him out. In unity with Him do they abide, and in Their Oneness Both are kept complete. There is no road that leads away from Him. A journey from yourself does not exist. How foolish and insane it is to think that there could be a road with such an aim! Where could it go? And how could you be made to travel on it, walking there without your own reality at one with you?

Forgive yourself your madness, and forget all senseless journeys and all goal-less aims. They have no meaning. You can not escape from what you are. For God is merciful, and did not let His Son abandon Him. For what He is be thankful, for in that is your escape from madness and from death. Nowhere but where He is can you be found. There is no path that does not lead to Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 28

Lesson 270

I will not use the body’s eyes today.

Father, Christ’s vision is Your gift to me, and it has power to translate all that the body’s eyes behold into the sight of a forgiven world. How glorious and gracious is this world! Yet how much more will I perceive in it than sight can give. The world forgiven signifies Your Son acknowledges his Father, lets his dreams be brought to truth, and waits expectantly the one remaining instant more of time which ends forever, as Your memory returns to him. And now his will is one with Yours. His function now is but Your Own, and every thought except Your Own is gone.

The quiet of today will bless our hearts, and through them peace will come to everyone. Christ is our eyes today. And through His sight we offer healing to the world through Him, the holy Son whom God created whole; the holy Son whom God created One.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1151(i): (The following two questions were posed by the same person.) Could you please explain the meaning of the following passage from A Course in Miracles : “He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love” (T.31.lV.9:1,2).

A: “His Thoughts” refers to the extension of God, which is Christ, His Son — the capital T indicates that it refers to Christ. Jesus is using the plural form because of the context of his message in this section. The content of the statement is that Love is perfect Oneness that can never be divided or changed in any way. Contrary to what the ego says of God, Jesus is reminding us that Love never abandons. God leaving His Son is an absolute impossibility. But the Son can believe he has left his Source, even though, in truth, that is an impossibility as well. That is the Atonement principle running throughout the Course: the separation from God never truly happened.


Q #1151(ii): Also, what would be the formula for seeing a brother you disliked in the past, but now with spiritual vision instead of judgment? What thoughts/prayers are best to use while with my brothers/sisters in order to let go of judgment?

A: There is no formula as such in the Course, but in many ways seeing your brother as sinless is what the whole Course is about, for when you see the face of Christ in your brother, you then remember God. There are two important parts to the process that leads to this vision of sinless­ness: recognizing the purpose judgment serves and the cost judging. Judgment is the life-blood of the ego; it keeps the belief in differences alive, and the belief in differences keeps separation real. Thus, we judge because we want to remain separate but not be held responsible for that choice. Locating our problems and lack of peace in what others to do us, thereby judging them as sinful and guilty, effectively hides the choice we are upholding in our minds.

Therefore, what we need to do, as Jesus teaches in many different ways, is to look with him at our need to judge, and to learn that the price we are willing to pay to continue to judge is the loss of our own peace. Jesus thus appeals to us: “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment. When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them” (T.3.VI.3:1,2,3). Judging costs us dearly! We lose our peace and all sense of the identity we share with each other. In return we get to be right (at least some of the time), and we keep our special individuality. Is it worth it? We need only look at this, and not force ourselves to stop judging when it is still so meaningful to us. Eventually we will let ourselves feel the pain of continued judgment, and then we will be less willing to pay the price, especially when we also realize that it is not a sacrifice to give up judgment, in view of the fact that we are incapable of judging in the first place ( see M.10.2).

Lesson 335, “I choose to see my brother’s sinlessness” (W.pII.335), might be helpful in keep­ing these teachings present in your mind. Remember, though, you never want to fight against your need to judge others (or yourself). That will only force you into denial and then your progress will be halted. It is far more helpful to be honest about not wanting to see your brother sinless, and then not condemn yourself for that, yet remind yourself that there’s a price to be paid for such resistance. Gentleness and patience are essential.

In summary: “Your function here on earth is only to forgive him [your brother] , that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him” (W.pI.192.10:6,7,8,9).

guiltless mind


ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 27

ACIM Text Reading for September 27

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

III. The Self-Accused
Only the self-accused condemn. As you prepare to make a choice that will result in different outcomes, there is first one thing that must be overlearned. It must become a habit of response so typical of everything you do that it becomes your first response to all temptation, and to every situation that occurs. Learn this, and learn it well, for it is here delay of happiness is shortened by a span of time you cannot realize. You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own. Whatever form his sins appear to take, it but obscures the fact that you believe them to be yours, and therefore meriting a “just” attack.

Why should his sins be sins, if you did not believe they could not be forgiven in you? Why are they real in him, if you did not believe that they are your reality? And why do you attack them everywhere except you hate yourself? Are you a sin? You answer “yes” whenever you attack, for by attack do you assert that you are guilty, and must give as you deserve. And what can you deserve but what you are? If you did not believe that you deserved attack, it never would occur to you to give attack to anyone at all. Why should you? What would be the gain to you? What could the outcome be that you would want? And how could murder bring you benefit?

Sins are in bodies. They are not perceived in minds. They are not seen as purposes, but actions. Bodies act, and minds do not. And therefore must the body be at fault for what it does. It is not seen to be a passive thing, obeying your commands, and doing nothing of itself at all. If you are sin you are a body, for the mind acts not. And purpose must be in the body, not the mind. The body must act on its own, and motivate itself. If you are sin you lock the mind within the body, and you give its purpose to its prison house, which acts instead of it. A jailer does not follow orders, but enforces orders on the prisoner.

Yet is the body prisoner, and not the mind. The body thinks no thoughts. It has no power to learn, to pardon, nor enslave. It gives no orders that the mind need serve, nor sets conditions that it must obey. It holds in prison but the willing mind that would abide in it. It sickens at the bidding of the mind that would become its prisoner. And it grows old and dies, because that mind is sick within itself. Learning is all that causes change. And so the body, where no learning can occur, could never change unless the mind preferred the body change in its appearances, to suit the purpose given by the mind. For mind can learn, and there is all change made.

The mind that thinks it is a sin has but one purpose; that the body be the source of sin, to keep it in the prison house it chose and guards and holds itself at bay, a sleeping prisoner to the snarling dogs of hate and evil, sickness and attack; of pain and age, of grief and suffering. Here are the thoughts of sacrifice preserved, for here guilt rules, and orders that the world be like itself; a place where nothing can find mercy, nor survive the ravages of fear except in murder and in death. For here are you made sin, and sin cannot abide the joyous and the free, for they are enemies which sin must kill. In death is sin preserved, and those who think that they are sin must die for what they think they are.

Let us be glad that you will see what you believe, and that it has been given you to change what you believe. The body will but follow. It can never lead you where you would not be. It does not guard your sleep, nor interfere with your awakening. Release your body from imprisonment, and you will see no one as prisoner to what you have escaped. You will not want to hold in guilt your chosen enemies, nor keep in chains, to the illusion of a changing love, the ones you think are friends.

The innocent release in gratitude for their release. And what they see upholds their freedom from imprisonment and death. Open your mind to change, and there will be no ancient penalty exacted from your brother or yourself. For God has said there is no sacrifice that can be asked; there is no sacrifice that can be made.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 27

Lesson 269
My sight goes forth to look upon Christ’s face.

I ask Your blessing on my sight today. It is the means which You have chosen to become the way to show me my mistakes, and look beyond them. It is given me to find a new perception through the Guide You gave to me, and through His lessons to surpass perception and return to truth. I ask for the illusion which transcends all those I made. Today I choose to see a world forgiven, in which everyone shows me the face of Christ, and teaches me that what I look upon belongs to me; that nothing is, except Your holy Son.

Today our sight is blessed indeed. We share one vision, as we look upon the face of Him Whose Self is ours. We are one because of Him Who is the Son of God; of Him Who is our own Identity.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #155: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for a little under a year. I would appreciate clarification on something that I just read in the text. Jesus speaks of the “immediacy of salvation,” and that the reason someone will not experience this immediacy is because there is still a small desire to be separate, and to hold onto guilt and unforgiveness. I have suffered with very disabling panic attacks for ten years, and I can completely accept and acknowledge that I have created this condition, and that my desire to be separate, guilty, and unforgiving are the erroneous thoughts that I have held onto. It is my deepest yearning to heal and release these misperceptions, because the pain of suffering this anxiety is completely unbearable and unacceptable to me. As great as my acknowledgment of my responsibility and my willingness to have my misperceptions corrected, I continue to suffer. Where is my error? Why has my deep acknowledgment and willingness not been enough to create the miracle, the immediacy of salvation promised by Jesus?

A: In the section you refer to, Jesus speaks of the space that we would maintain between ourselves and our brother as little, but because the space is small does not mean we should minimize the tremendous investment we have in keeping that distance intact. Our whole identification with this self we believe we are is maintained by keeping the thought of separation real in our mind, along with its projection into the external world as space between our body and our brother’s. And so we have a tremendous fear of losing our self if we let go completely of all of our grievances and thoughts of attack now. Jesus comments on this fear: “Salvation would wipe out the space you see between you still, and let you instantly become as one. And it is here you fear the loss would lie” (T.26.VIII.3:4,5).

So you want to learn to respect the depth of your fear, reflected in your panic attacks. The goal is to join with Jesus in looking at your fear, asking for his help in understanding its deeper source and purpose, buried in the part of the mind that wants to maintain its individual, separate existence. Patience with yourself, acknowledging that this is a process that will almost certainly take time, is also important. Resisting the feelings only pushes them down and maintains their intensity.

Salvation is immediate in the sense that in any instant, if you are willing to let go of your investment in sin and guilt and fear, even temporarily, the peace that is ever-present in your mind can be your experience — until you make the choice for guilt again as a result of re-identifying with the ego and fear. With repeated practice, as you are ready and willing, you will come to realize that that is no sin, but only a mistaken choice that will become increasingly conscious in your mind.

You do not say whether you have sought any kind of professional help for your panic attacks. Looking for outside agents (e.g., doctors, therapists, medication) to assist you in dealing with your symptoms can in fact be one expression of your willingness to no longer see yourself as separate and alone. It is only kind to be willing to open yourself to the help you need, in whatever form you are presently willing to accept (T.2.IV.4,5; M.5.II.2,3).

For other questions that are relevant in various ways to the question your raise, you may wish to read Questions #128, 142 and 148.