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

ACIM Text Reading for September 23

Chapter 28 ~ The Undoing of Fear

V. The Alternate to Dreams of Fear

What is a sense of sickness but a sense of limitation? Of a splitting off and separating from? A gap that is perceived between you and your brother, and what is seen as health? And so the good is seen to be outside; the evil, in. And thus is sickness separating off the self from good, and keeping evil in. God is the Alternate to dreams of fear. Who shares in them can never share in Him. But who withdraws his mind from sharing them is sharing Him. There is no other choice. Except you share it, nothing can exist. And you exist because God shared His Will with you, that His creation might create.

It is the sharing of the evil dreams of hate and malice, bitterness and death, of sin and suffering and pain and loss, that makes them real. Unshared, they are perceived as meaningless. The fear is gone from them because you did not give them your support. Where fear has gone there love must come, because there are but these alternatives. Where one appears, the other disappears. And which you share becomes the only one you have. You have the one that you accept, because it is the only one you wish to have.

You share no evil dreams if you forgive the dreamer, and perceive that he is not the dream he made. And so he cannot be a part of yours, from which you both are free. Forgiveness separates the dreamer from the evil dream, and thus releases him. Remember if you share an evil dream, you will believe you are the dream you share. And fearing it, you will not want to know your own Identity, because you think that It is fearful. And you will deny your Self, and walk upon an alien ground which your Creator did not make, and where you seem to be a something you are not. You will make war upon your Self, Which seems to be your enemy; and will attack your brother, as a part of what you hate. There is no compromise. You are your Self or an illusion. What can be between illusion and the truth? A middle ground, where you can be a thing that is not you, must be a dream and cannot be the truth.

You have conceived a little gap between illusions and the truth to be the place where all your safety lies, and where your Self is safely hidden by what you have made. Here is a world established that is sick, and this the world the body’s eyes perceive. Here are the sounds it hears; the voices that its ears were made to hear. Yet sights and sounds the body can perceive are meaningless. It cannot see nor hear. It does not know what seeing is; what listening is for. It is as little able to perceive as it can judge or understand or know. Its eyes are blind; its ears are deaf. It can not think, and so it cannot have effects.

What is there God created to be sick? And what that He created not can be? Let not your eyes behold a dream; your ears bear witness to illusion. They were made to look upon a world that is not there; to hear the voices that can make no sound. Yet are there other sounds and other sights that can be seen and heard and understood. For eyes and ears are senses without sense, and what they see and hear they but report: It is not they that hear and see, but you, who put together every jagged piece, each senseless scrap and shred of evidence, and make a witness to the world you want. Let not the body’s ears and eyes perceive these countless fragments seen within the gap that you imagined, and let them persuade their maker his imaginings are real.

Creation proves reality because it shares the function all creation shares. It is not made of little bits of glass, a piece of wood, a thread or two, perhaps, all put together to attest its truth. Reality does not depend on this. There is no gap that separates the truth from dreams and from illusions. Truth has left no room for them in any place or time. For it fills every place and every time, and makes them wholly indivisible.

You who believe there is a little gap between you and your brother, do not see that it is here you are as prisoners in a world perceived to be existing here. The world you see does not exist, because the place where you perceive it is not real. The gap is carefully concealed in fog, and misty pictures rise to cover it with vague uncertain forms and changing shapes, forever insubstantial and unsure. Yet in the gap is nothing. And there are no awesome secrets and no darkened tombs where terror rises from the bones of death. Look at the little gap, and you behold the innocence and emptiness of sin that you will see within yourself, when you have lost the fear of recognising love.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 23

Lesson 249

Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss.

Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible and anger makes no sense. Attack is gone, and madness has an end. What suffering is now conceivable? What loss can be sustained? The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects. And so the journey which the Son of God began has ended in the light from which he came.

Father, we would return our minds to You. We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death. Now would we rest again in You, as You created us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

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

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

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

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

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 6

ACIM Text Reading for September 6

Chapter 28 ~ The Undoing of Fear

VI. The Secret Vows

Who punishes the body is insane. For here the little gap is seen, and yet it is not here. It has not judged itself, nor made itself to be what it is not. It does not seek to make of pain a joy and look for lasting pleasure in the dust. It does not tell you what its purpose is and cannot understand what it is for. It does not victimize, because it has no will, no preferences and no doubts. It does not wonder what it is. And so it has no need to be competitive. It can be victimized, but cannot feel itself as victim. It accepts no role, but does what it is told, without attack.

It is indeed a senseless point of view to hold responsible for sight a thing that cannot see, and blame it for the sounds you do not like, although it cannot hear. It suffers not the punishment you give because it has no feeling. It behaves in ways you want, but never makes the choice. It is not born and does not die. It can but follow aimlessly the path on which it has been set. And if that path is changed, it walks as easily another way. It takes no sides and judges not the road it travels. It perceives no gap, because it does not hate. It can be used for hate, but it cannot be hateful made thereby.

The thing you hate and fear and loathe and want, the body does not know. You send it forth to seek for separation and be separate. And then you hate it, not for what it is, but for the uses you have made of it. You shrink from what it sees and what it hears, and hate its frailty and littleness. And you despise its acts, but not your own. It sees and acts for you. It hears your voice. And it is frail and little by your wish. It seems to punish you, and thus deserve your hatred for the limitations that it brings to you. Yet you have made of it a symbol for the limitations that you want your mind to have and see and keep.

The body represents the gap between the little bit of mind you call your own and all the rest of what is really yours. You hate it, yet you think it is your self, and that, without it, would your self be lost. This is the secret vow that you have made with every brother who would walk apart. This is the secret oath you take again, whenever you perceive yourself attacked. No one can suffer if he does not see himself attacked, and losing by attack. Unstated and unheard in consciousness is every pledge to sickness. Yet it is a promise to another to be hurt by him, and to attack him in return.

Sickness is anger taken out upon the body, so that it will suffer pain. It is the obvious effect of what was made in secret, in agreement with another’s secret wish to be apart from you, as you would be apart from him. Unless you both agree that is your wish, it can have no effects. Whoever says, “There is no gap between my mind and yours” has kept God’s promise, not his tiny oath to be forever faithful unto death. And by his healing is his brother healed.

Let this be your agreement with each one; that you be one with him and not apart. And he will keep the promise that you make with him, because it is the one that he has made to God, as God has made to him. God keeps His promises; His Son keeps his. In his creation did his Father say, “You are beloved of Me and I of you forever. Be you perfect as Myself, for you can never be apart from Me.” His Son remembers not that he replied “I will,” though in that promise he was born. Yet God reminds him of it every time he does not share a promise to be sick, but lets his mind be healed and unified. His secret vows are powerless before the Will of God, Whose promises he shares. And what he substitutes is not his will, who has made promise of himself to God.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 6

Lesson 249

Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss.

Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible and anger makes no sense. Attack is gone, and madness has an end. What suffering is now conceivable? What loss can be sustained? The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects. And so the journey which the Son of God began has ended in the light from which he came.

Father, we would return our minds to You. We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death. Now would we rest again in You, as You created us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #888I’ve been wondering about the dispensing of our sense of guilt. In many therapies, the recognition of our feelings, especially negative ones such as envy, guilt etc., is important so that we can let the feelings go. Yet A Course in Miracles states that ultimately guilt isn’t real and that we should not recognize it as “truth.” Then again, it states that as long as we believe in the body’s truth, we would have to obey its laws that we set up ourselves.

So wouldn’t it be an easy cop out to say, “Oh, those negative things aren’t real anyway, so why bother with them?” At the same time, they are part of our physical selves and might come out secretly at the other end and be harmful to us. We are also living in a human body and — as the Course states, too — to deny that would be an even greater denial of the truth. So if we keep on recognizing the body and its attached sense of guilt, then how can we ever get out of here and return to the true state of mind that is still ours? It seems to be some kind of trap where the door has disappeared. Can you advise?

Also, Jesus tells us that we must first live a “happy dream” before we can realize that there is no dream at all. However, does not every “happy” thing include its opposite by definition? How can we live a happy dream when that implies that there must be something sad as well? Isn’t that an illusion? Is that what Jesus means when he says that when we really come across living a happy dream, “God will bow down to us” and the bridge to “real life”/truth will be there for us to cross? So once we recognize the illusion of distinguishing between happy and sad, good and bad, there is no dream at all. We cross the bridge to truth and the Self that is one with God. Is that all there is to it?

A: A Course in Miracles does not ask that we deny feelings. They are an important key to recognizing the choice that has been made in the mind. In fact, the goal of the mind training the workbook teaches is to make us increasingly aware of what we are thinking and feeling. The thoughts and feelings that are experienced in the dream are the reflection of a decision made in the mind that is outside time and space. When the mind decides to identify with the body, it then denies the choice and dissociates itself from its true identity as a mind. Jesus tells us our feelings and hidden thoughts are the guide to recognizing the forgotten choice the mind has made: “How can you know whether you chose the stairs to Heaven or the way to hell? Quite easily. How do you feel?” (T.23.II.22:6,7,8). He goes on to tell us that certainty and peace accompany the decision to turn toward Heaven by choosing the Holy Spirit. Any other feeling tells us we have chosen the ego’s road to hell. Therefore, our feelings should not be dismissed. That would be, as you say, a cop out, driving them further under cover and burying the mind’s choice in deeper darkness.

What makes the recognition of feelings part of a healing process, rather than a trap, is looking at them without judgment, and being willing to see them for what they are, not as the ego interprets them. The goal is not to justify them, blame others for them, or indulge them, but to see them as the inevitable and desired result of a choice in the mind. Acknowledging the mind as the source of every feeling means that the feelings change as the mind is healed. Part of the healing process may involve working with a therapist to bring the feelings to the surface and to identify the persons or situations that were their projected source. What makes practicing the Course a different kind of therapy is attributing every experience to the mind’s decision, and not to anyone else nor to anything in form. This means no one else is responsible for how one feels. Neither are feelings caused by anything the body has done to itself. They come only from having decided for the ego and then judging it as sinful. Looking beyond the feelings to their source is how to practice the forgiveness Jesus teaches in the Course. Not only is it not a trap, it is the escape route out of the ego’s trap because it makes the power of the mind real in our awareness and diminishes the seeming power of the body and its guilt. When guilt is seen as a purposive and not so desirable choice, rather than a powerful force, its unreality gradually becomes apparent and it will eventually disappear for lack of nourishment. A little willingness to see feelings in this light is all that is required to set us in the right direction with the Holy Spirit by our side to “…give [us] certainty of where [we] go” (T.23.II.22:13) .

Being certain of where we go (out of the dream), with Whom we go (the Holy Spirit) and how we go (forgiveness), is what makes us happy in he dream. It is not really about the dream; it is the “fixed determination” (T.31.VIII.11:1) to go beyond the dream that makes it “happy.” This reflects the mind’s decision to hold Jesus’ hand and walk with him out of the illusion. It has nothing to do with the distinctions we make as bodies about what is good, bad, happy, or sad. These all reflect the ego’s judgment based on the belief in separation and the reality of the body. The happy dream is the reflection of the part of the mind that chooses to identify with the Holy Spirit, Who is the memory of what lies beyond illusion. In this, as always, it is helpful to remember that the Course is using words that “…are but symbols of symbols… twice removed from reality” (M.21.1:9,10) . Its use of symbols and images is necessary to reach us who believe we are irretrievably lost in the dream.

The only distinction we must learn to make is between the ego’s voice and the Holy Spirit’s. This is accomplished through the process of forgiveness described above. That is all there is to it. It is a simple process, but one that takes quite a bit of practice due to the resistance to letting go of iden­tity with the body. When we do, we will return to the oneness with God that we never truly left, symbolized in the Course by the image of God reaching down: “And then your Father will lean down to you and take the last step for you, by raising you unto Himself” (T.11.VIII. 15:5).

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 6

ACIM Text Reading for September 6

Chapter 29 ~ The Awakening

I. The Closing of the Gap
There is no time, no place, no state where God is absent. There is nothing to be feared. There is no way in which a gap could be conceived of in the Wholeness that is His. The compromise the least and littlest gap would represent in His eternal love is quite impossible. For it would mean His Love could harbor just a hint of hate, His gentleness turn sometimes to attack, and His eternal patience sometimes fail. All this do you believe, when you perceive a gap between your brother and yourself. How could you trust Him, then? For He must be deceptive in His Love. Be wary, then; let Him not come too close, and leave a gap between you and His Love, through which you can escape if there be need for you to flee.

Here is the fear of God most plainly seen. For love is treacherous to those who fear, since fear and hate can never be apart. No one who hates but is afraid of love, and therefore must he be afraid of God. Certain it is he knows not what love means. He fears to love and loves to hate, and so he thinks that love is fearful; hate is love. This is the consequence the little gap must bring to those who cherish it, and think that it is their salvation and their hope.

The fear of God! The greatest obstacle that peace must flow across has not yet gone. The rest are past, but this one still remains to block your path, and make the way to light seem dark and fearful, perilous and bleak. You had decided that your brother is your enemy. Sometimes a friend, perhaps, provided that your separate interests made your friendship possible a little while. But not without a gap perceived between you and him, lest he turn again into an enemy. Let him come close to you, and you jumped back; as you approached, did he but instantly withdraw. A cautious friendship, and limited in scope and carefully restricted in amount, became the treaty that you had made with him. Thus you and your brother but shared a qualified entente, in which a clause of separation was a point you both agreed to keep intact. And violating this was thought to be a breach of treaty not to be allowed.

The gap between you and your brother is not one of space between two separate bodies. And this but seems to be dividing off your separate minds. It is the symbol of a promise made to meet when you prefer, and separate till you and he elect to meet again. And then your bodies seem to get in touch, and thereby signify a meeting place to join. But always is it possible for you and him to go your separate ways. Conditional upon the “right” to separate will you and he agree to meet from time to time, and keep apart in intervals of separation, which do protect you from the “sacrifice” of love. The body saves you, for it gets away from total sacrifice and gives to you the time in which to build again your separate self, which you truly believe diminishes as you and your brother meet.

The body could not separate your mind from your brother’s unless you wanted it to be a cause of separation and of distance seen between you and him. Thus do you endow it with a power that lies not within itself. And herein lies its power over you. For now you think that it determines when your brother and you meet, and limits your ability to make communion with your brother’s mind. And now it tells you where to go and how to go there, what is feasible for you to undertake, and what you cannot do. It dictates what its health can tolerate, and what will tire it and make it sick. And its “inherent” weaknesses set up the limitations on what you would do, and keep your purpose limited and weak.

The body will accommodate to this, if you would have it so. It will allow but limited indulgences in “love,” with intervals of hatred in between. And it will take command of when to “love,” and when to shrink more safely into fear. It will be sick because you do not know what loving means. And so you must misuse each circumstance and everyone you meet, and see in them a purpose not your own.

It is not love that asks a sacrifice. But fear demands the sacrifice of love, for in love’s presence fear cannot abide. For hate to be maintained, love must be feared; and only sometimes present, sometimes gone. Thus is love seen as treacherous, because it seems to come and go uncertainly, and offer no stability to you. You do not see how limited and weak is your allegiance, and how frequently you have demanded that love go away, and leave you quietly alone in “peace.”

The body, innocent of goals, is your excuse for variable goals you hold, and force the body to maintain. You do not fear its weakness, but its lack of strength or weakness. Would you know that nothing stands between you and your brother? Would you know there is no gap behind which you can hide? There is a shock that comes to those who learn their savior is their enemy no more. There is a wariness that is aroused by learning that the body is not real. And there are overtones of seeming fear around the happy message, “God is Love.”

Yet all that happens when the gap is gone is peace eternal. Nothing more than that, and nothing less. Without the fear of God, what could induce you to abandon Him? What toys or trinkets in the gap could serve to hold you back an instant from His Love? Would you allow the body to say “no” to Heaven’s calling, were you not afraid to find a loss of self in finding God? Yet can your self be lost by being found?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 6

Lesson 249
Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss.

Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible and anger makes no sense. Attack is gone, and madness has an end. What suffering is now conceivable? What loss can be sustained? The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects. And so the journey which the Son of God began has ended in the light from which he came.

Father, we would return our minds to You. We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death. Now would we rest again in You, as You created us.

***

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.

kingdom of god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 6

ACIM Text Reading for September 6

Chapter 29 ~ The Awakening

VIII. The Anti-Christ

What is an idol? Do you think you know? For idols are unrecognised as such, and never seen for what they really are. That is the only power that they have. Their purpose is obscure, and they are feared and worshipped, both, because you do not know what they are for, and why they have been made. An idol is an image of your brother that you would value more than what he is. Idols are made that he may be replaced, no matter what their form. And it is this that never is perceived and recognised. Be it a body or a thing, a place, a situation or a circumstance, an object owned or wanted, or a right demanded or achieved, it is the same.

Let not their form deceive you. Idols are but substitutes for your reality. In some way, you believe they will complete your little self, for safety in a world perceived as dangerous, with forces massed against your confidence and peace of mind. They have the power to supply your lacks, and add the value that you do not have. No one believes in idols who has not enslaved himself to littleness and loss. And thus must seek beyond his little self for strength to raise his head, and stand apart from all the misery the world reflects. This is the penalty for looking not within for certainty and quiet calm that liberates you from the world, and lets you stand apart, in quiet and in peace.

An idol is a false impression, or a false belief; some form of anti-Christ, that constitutes a gap between the Christ and what you see. An idol is a wish, made tangible and given form, and thus perceived as real and seen outside the mind. Yet it is still a thought, and cannot leave the mind that is its source. Nor is its form apart from the idea it represents. All forms of anti-Christ oppose the Christ. And fall before His face like a dark veil that seems to shut you off from Him, alone in darkness. Yet the light is there. A cloud does not put out the sun. No more a veil can banish what it seems to separate, nor darken by one whit the light itself.

This world of idols is a veil across the face of Christ, because its purpose is to separate your brother from yourself. A dark and fearful purpose, yet a thought without the power to change one blade of grass from something living to a sign of death. Its form is nowhere, for its source abides within your mind where God abideth not. Where is this place where what is everywhere has been excluded and been kept apart? What hand could be held up to block God’s way? Whose voice could make demand He enter not? The ‘more-than-everything’ is not a thing to make you tremble and to quail in fear. Christ’s enemy is nowhere. He can take no form in which he ever will be real.

What is an idol? Nothing! It must be believed before it seems to come to life, and given power that it may be feared. Its life and power are its believer’s gift, and this is what the miracle restores to what has life and power worthy of the gift of Heaven and eternal peace. The miracle does not restore the truth, the light the veil between has not put out. It merely lifts the veil, and lets the truth shine unencumbered, being what it is. It does not need belief to be itself, for it has been created; so it is.

An idol is established by belief, and when it is withdrawn the idol ‘dies’. This is the anti-Christ; the strange idea there is a power past omnipotence, a place beyond the infinite, a time transcending the eternal. Here the world of idols has been set by the idea this power and place and time are given form, and shape the world where the impossible has happened. Here the deathless come to die, the all-encompassing to suffer loss, the timeless to be made the slaves of. time. Here does the changeless change; the peace of God, forever given to all living things, give way to chaos. And the Son of God, as perfect, sinless and as loving as his Father, come to hate a little while; to suffer pain and finally to die.

Where is an idol? Nowhere! Can there be a gap in what is infinite, a place where time can interrupt eternity? A place of darkness set where all is light, a dismal alcove separated off from what is endless has no place to be. An idol is beyond where God has set all things forever and has left no room for anything to be except His Will. Nothing and nowhere must an idol be, while God is everything and everywhere.

What purpose has an idol then? What is it for? This is the only question that has many answers, each depending on the one of whom the question has been asked. The world believes in idols. No one comes unless he worshipped them, and still attempts to seek for one that yet might offer him a gift reality does not contain. Each worshipper of idols harbours hope his special deities will give him more than other men possess. It must be more. It does not really matter more of what; more beauty, more intelligence, more wealth, or even more affliction and more pain. But more of something is an idol for. And when one fails another takes its place, with hope of finding more of something else. Be not deceived by forms the ‘something’ takes. An idol is a means for getting more. And it is this that is against God’s Will.

God has not many sons, but only one. Who can have more, and who be given less? In Heaven would the Son of God but laugh, if idols could intrude upon his peace. It is for him the Holy Spirit speaks, and tells you idols have no purpose here. For more than Heaven can you never have. If Heaven is within, why would you seek for idols that would make of Heaven less, to give you more than God bestowed upon your brother and on you, as one with Him? God gave you all there is. And to be sure you could not lose it, did He also give the same to every living thing as well. And thus is every living thing a part of you, as of Himself. No idol can establish you as more than God. But you will never be content with being less.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 6

Lesson 249
Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss.

Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible and anger makes no sense. Attack is gone, and madness has an end. What suffering is now conceivable? What loss can be sustained? The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects. And so the journey which the Son of God began has ended in the light from which he came.

Father, we would return our minds to You. We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death. Now would we rest again in You, as You created us.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Text Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

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ACIM Q & A for September 6

Q #890: In addition to the valuable changes in perception that practice A Course in Miracles provides, are there any Course students who have had some degree of enlightenment experience? Are the Course’s teachers mainly talking from the perspective of belief and conceptual understanding (as opposed to direct experience of non-duality)? Given Zen’s emphasis on a human teacher (who has experienced some degree of enlightenment) to ensure that the student doesn’t confuse progress with ego milestones, how is this avoided in the Course?

A: We don’t know whether or not any Course students or teachers have had direct experiences of non-duality. There would be no need to announce, really, that one has had such an experience, and having that experience is not the immediate objective of the lessons in A Course in Miracles ( see T.8.I.1,2; T.24.in.1; M.26.2,3) . There is only one qualification that Jesus gives for becoming a teacher of God. In his somewhat startling definition he states: “A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s” (M.1.1:1,2) . That is the only qualification, which actually is one of the major themes running through the entire Course. Learning to perceive each other and relate to each other in the context of the common purpose we all share as God’s one Son — now fragmented, but desirous of returning home to our oneness in God — is the means of approaching the non-dualism of reality. The perception that we all share the same mind — wrong mind, right mind, and decision-making power — reflects the ultimate ontological non-dualism of reality.

We are both drawn to the truth and terrified of it; attracted to union and terrified of being without our individual identity. Believing we are individual, separate human beings, we would have to be terrified of pure Oneness; and if we weren’t, we would not need the Course or any other spiritual path. Therefore, abstract Oneness must be represented and taught in a form that we can understand and accept. We need teachers who can communicate to us on our level, recognizing our tremendous fear and resistance to letting go of our individual self. They must use the language and symbols of the world of separation and individuality to gently and gradually lead us beyond it ( see T.25.I.5,6,7; W.pI.184.9,10,11) . One form in which that need is met is Jesus and this course.

Teaching in A Course in Miracles is thought of in an entirely different light from what is typically thought of in the world as teaching. In the manual for teachers Jesus tells us that his course “emphasizes that to teach is to learn, so that teacher and learner are the same” ; and he continues with this important description of teaching: “To teach is to demonstrate. There are only two thought systems, and you demonstrate that you believe that one or the other is true all the time. From your demonstration others learn, and so do you” (M.in.1:5; 2:12,3) . The Course says virtually nothing about the formal classroom-type situation, but a great deal about the content that is taught, and how it is taught: “. . . the content of the course never changes. Its central theme is always, ‘God’s Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation.’ It can be taught by actions or thoughts; in words or soundlessly; in any language or in no language; in any place or time or manner” (M.1.3:4,5,6) . A student, therefore, does not have to be in a formal classroom to learn this course. Jesus stresses only the need to develop a relationship with the Teacher within our minds Who reflects to us the abstract truth of Heaven.

In view of all this, if you are in a class on A Course in Miracles , you are going to learn either that separation is reality or that oneness is reality; that separate interests are valued or that shared interests are the only value. That is what will be communicated, regardless of the words, teaching aids, and techniques used — and regardless of how well versed the instructor/facilitator is on the thought system of the Course. In the text, Jesus talks about “right teaching and right learning” (T.4.I) , and there he warns about the “ego-oriented” teacher who “is concerned with the effect of his ego on other egos, and therefore interprets their interaction as a means of ego preservation. I would not be able to devote myself to teaching if I believed this, and you will not be a devoted teacher as long as you believe it” (T.4.I.6:4,5,6) . This is a helpful guideline that alerts us to the ways in which specialness can creep into the teaching/learning situation. But it is only after considerable practice in monitoring our minds and observing our reactions in our daily lives that we will be able to discern the message we are giving and receiving. This is why in the text Jesus cautions us about putting ourselves in charge of our own spiritual process: “Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success” (T.18.V.1:6) . This does not mean, however, that we need to turn to an external teacher because of our deficiencies, although it would not be wrong to do so. The process is primarily an internal one between ourselves and the Holy Spirit, Who holds for us the memory of the truth of Heaven.

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