ACIM Supplemental Reading for November 12
The Song of Prayer
II. The Ladder of Prayer
S-1.II.1. Prayer has no beginning and no end. 2 It is a part of life. 3 But it does change in form, and grow with learning until it reaches its formless state, and fuses into total communication with God. 4 In its asking form it need not, and often does not, make appeal to God, or even involve belief in Him. 5 At these levels prayer is merely wanting, out of a sense of scarcity and lack.
S-1.II.2. These forms of prayer, or asking-out-of-need, always involve feelings of weakness and inadequacy, and could never be made by a Son of God who knows Who he is. 2 No one, then, who is sure of his Identity could pray in these forms. 3 Yet it is also true that no one who is uncertain of his Identity can avoid praying in this way. 4 And prayer is as continual as life. 5 Everyone prays without ceasing. 6 Ask and you have received, for you have established what it is you want.
S-1.II.3. It is also possible to reach a higher form of asking-out-of-need, for in this world prayer is reparative, and so it must entail levels of learning. 2 Here, the asking may be addressed to God in honest belief, though not yet with understanding. 3 A vague and usually unstable sense of identification has generally been reached, but tends to be blurred by a deep-rooted sense of sin. 4 It is possible at this level to continue to ask for things of this world in various forms, and it is also possible to ask for gifts such as honesty or goodness, and particularly for forgiveness for the many sources of guilt that inevitably underlie any prayer of need. 5 Without guilt there is no scarcity. 6 The sinless have no needs.
S-1.II.4. At this level also comes that curious contradiction in terms known as “praying for one’s enemies.” 2 The contradiction lies not in the actual words, but rather in the way in which they are usually interpreted. 3 While you believe you have enemies, you have limited prayer to the laws of this world, and have also limited your ability to receive and to accept to the same narrow margins. 4 And yet, if you have enemies you have need of prayer, and great need, too. 5 What does the phrase really mean? 6 Pray for yourself, that you may not seek to imprison Christ and thereby lose the recognition of your own Identity. 7 Be traitor to no one, or you will be treacherous to yourself.
S-1.II.5. An enemy is the symbol of an imprisoned Christ. 2 And who could He be except yourself? 3 The prayer for enemies thus becomes a prayer for your own freedom. 4 Now it is no longer a contradiction in terms. 5 It has become a statement of the unity of Christ and a recognition of His sinlessness. 6 And now it has become holy, for it acknowledges the Son of God as he was created.
S-1.II.6. Let it never be forgotten that prayer at any level is always for yourself. 2 If you unite with anyone in prayer, you make him part of you. 3 The enemy is you, as is the Christ. 4 Before it can become holy, then, prayer becomes a choice. 5 You do not choose for another. 6 You can but choose for yourself. 7 Pray truly for your enemies, for herein lies your own salvation. 8 Forgive them for your sins, and you will be forgiven indeed.
S-1.II.7. Prayer is a ladder reaching up to Heaven. 2 At the top there is a transformation much like your own, for prayer is part of you. 3 The things of earth are left behind, all unremembered. 4 There is no asking, for there is no lack. 5 Identity in Christ is fully recognized as set forever, beyond all change and incorruptible. 6 The light no longer flickers, and will never go out. 7 Now, without needs of any kind, and clad forever in the pure sinlessness that is the gift of God to you, His Son, prayer can again become what it was meant to be. 8 For now it rises as a song of thanks to your Creator, sung without words, or thoughts, or vain desires, unneedful now of anything at all. 9 So it extends, as it was meant to do. 10 And for this giving God Himself gives thanks.
S-1.II.8. God is the goal of every prayer, giving it timelessness instead of end. 2 Nor has it a beginning, because the goal has never changed. 3 Prayer in its earlier forms is an illusion, because there is no need for a ladder to reach what one has never left. 4 Yet prayer is part of forgiveness as long as forgiveness, itself an illusion, remains unattained. 5 Prayer is tied up with learning until the goal of learning has been reached. 6 And then all things will be transformed together, and returned unblemished into the Mind of God. 7 Being beyond learning, this state cannot be described. 8 The stages necessary to its attainment, however, need to be understood, if peace is to be restored to God’s Son, who lives now with the illusion of death and the fear of God.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 12
Section 10. What is the Last Judgment?
Christ’s Second Coming gives the Son of God this gift: to hear the Voice for God proclaim that what is false is false, and what is true has never changed. And this the judgment is in which perception ends. At first you see a world that has accepted this as true, projected from a now corrected mind. And with this holy sight, perception gives a silent blessing and then disappears, its goal accomplished and its mission done.
The final judgment on the world contains no condemnation. For it sees the world as totally forgiven, without sin and wholly purposeless. Without a cause, and now without a function in Christ’s sight, it merely slips away to nothingness. There it was born, and there it ends as well. And all the figures in the dream in which the world began go with it. Bodies now are useless, and will therefore fade away, because the Son of God is limitless.
You who believed that God’s Last Judgment would condemn the world to hell along with you, accept this holy truth: God’s Judgment is the gift of the Correction He bestowed on all your errors, freeing you from them, and all effects they ever seemed to have. To fear God’s saving grace is but to fear complete release from suffering, return to peace, security and happiness, and union with your own Identity.
God’s Final Judgment is as merciful as every step in His appointed plan to bless His Son, and call him to return to the eternal peace He shares with him. Be not afraid of love. For it alone can heal all sorrow, wipe away all tears, and gently waken from his dream of pain the Son whom God acknowledges as His. Be not afraid of this. Salvation asks you give it welcome. And the world awaits your glad acceptance, which will set it free.
This is God’s Final Judgment: “You are still My holy Son, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure. Therefore awaken and return to Me. I am your Father and you are My Son.”
I judge all things as I would have them be.
Judgment was made to be a weapon used against the truth. It separates what it is being used against, and sets it off as if it were a thing apart. And then it makes of it what you would have it be. It judges what it cannot understand, because it cannot see totality and therefore judges falsely. Let us not use it today, but make a gift of it to Him Who has a different use for it. He will relieve us of the agony of all the judgments we have made against ourselves, and re-establish peace of mind by giving us God’s Judgment of His Son.
Father, we wait with open mind today, to hear Your Judgment of the Son You love. We do not know him, and we cannot judge. And so we let Your Love decide what he whom You created as Your Son must be.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Can we pray to the Holy Spirit for other people’s healing and protection and well being? In Christian and Gnostic mysticism and in religions around the world the spiritual power that mediates between apparent incarnate beings and God the Father is usually some form of the divine feminine and called Sophia (Kwan Yin, Tara etc. are similar concepts in eastern traditions). Could we say Sophia, Mother Mary in her cosmic aspect etc. is another name for the Holy Spirit?
A: Prayer in A Course in Miracles has a meaning quite different from other traditions such as the ones you mention. The kind of prayer you describe is not part of the Course’s theory and practice, as it implies that God knows about our world and all of our problems, and that they are all real. The foundation of everything taught in the Course is its strict non-dualism — all but God, Christ, and Their creations in Heaven is illusory. On this level, prayer is defined as the song the Father sings to the Son and the Son sings to the Father, the description Jesus uses in the Introduction to The Song of Prayer . This pamphlet contains the scribed material that came in response to Course students’ growing misunderstanding of prayer, forgiveness, healing, and the role of the Holy Spirit. In the first section, “True Prayer,” Jesus states that “true prayer must avoid the pitfall of asking to entreat. Ask, rather, to receive what is already given; to accept what is already there” ( S.1.I.1:6,7 ). Jesus makes it clear, however, that there is nothing wrong with praying for specifics if that is what you want to do, because prayer is like a ladder, where at the lower rungs only specifics are meaningful to us ( S.1.I.2 ). Communication, therefore, would have to take place in those terms; but prayer and our view of the Holy Spirit would change as we ascend the ladder and begin to value oneness more and more.
What this means to us who believe that the world and our individual lives in it are real is that our prayer must somehow reflect that song of the Oneness of Father and Son in Heaven. True prayer would share the right-minded purpose of our lives here, which is to undo all sense of separation, one person to another, and between ourselves and God. This belief in separation and the guilt that results from it is the only problem, and it is the source of every other seeming problem in our lives. Thus, the only true healing is the undoing of this belief through the practice of forgiveness; and that is where the role of the Holy Spirit comes in. We can choose to turn to the Holy Spirit in our right minds as the reminder that we have only one problem, separation, and that there is only one solution, forgiveness ( W.pI.79 , 80). This is why Jesus tells us that “the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness” ( T.3.V.6:3 ). It also is the basis of Jesus’ response to Helen (scribe of the Course) when she asked him what she should say to a person in need of her help. He replied that she was asking the wrong question, and that her concern should be not for what she should say, but for letting go of the judgments in her mind. Without the interference of judgment, we would just automatically know what to say or not say. Judgment blocks the flow of love that would always be expressed in a way that is best for everyone.
Many other students have asked about prayer and the Holy Spirit, and we refer you to our answers to their questions: #388, #572, #592, and #628. The role of the Holy Spirit is also explained in depth in Chapter 4 of Few Choose to Listen , which is Volume 2 of The Message of “A Course in Miracles.” The context of that discussion is how students have misunderstood what the Course says about asking the Holy Spirit for help.
Q #1238 (ii): Anger is never justified — I disagree. Surely anger is sometimes inevitable; it is vitally important to admonish and discipline one’s children, teenagers, loved ones, and people who are monetarily ‘out of it’ or a potential or actual threat. Can we use anger without necessarily being controlled by it in certain situations, and offer it to the Holy Spirit to be healed?
A: Anger is always a projection of one’s own guilt. But that does not mean that you cannot act responsibly and appropriately, as the situation may call for. Disciplining people, setting limits on their behavior, and physically stopping dangerous behavior can be done effectively without anger. You can be firm and assertive, and even raise your voice, as circumstances may demand — all without anger. The distinction between form and content is the pivotal factor in understanding this aspect of the Course’s teachings. We refer you to our answers to earlier questions where we have discussed anger and how to apply the principles of A Course in Miracles to parenting and other positions of authority: #179, #202, #551, and #569.
Q #1239: There is a line in one of the lessons in the workbook of A Course in Miracles that says “no one dies without his own consent” ( W.pI.152.1:4 ). Could that mean that on some level in our mind we get to a point (while here, experiencing living in a body) that we say, “I am done with this,” or does our dying (death of the physical body) happen at whatever point in time as a result of making the first decision to become a body? I would appreciate it if you could give me your understanding of this statement.
A: This statement about dying is best understood in the context of the only two purposes we can ever choose to identify with in our minds, and which we are always choosing between at every instant. We are always choosing either to reinforce our belief in separation or to undo it. Thus, death can come upon the completion of our forgiveness lessons, as explained in The Song of Prayer : “a quiet choice, made joyfully and with a sense of peace, because the body has been kindly used to help the Son of God along the way he goes to God” ( S.3.II.2:1 ).Understand, though, that this expresses the content in the mind only; the form could be cancer, a stroke, or any number of other ways in which the body ceases to function. The form does not necessarily indicate the content in the mind. The purpose of a fatal illness could also be ego based — a way of punishing oneself or others, for example. It is always a choice, though.
With regard to the second point . . . Since the mind is not bound by time, there is no predetermined time for the death of the body. To use the analogy of a video-tape library, there are multiple videos of death, and the decision maker can choose any one of them, depending on the purpose it has identified with. But all of this occurs outside time and space, so it is practically impossible for us to comprehend it in our present state.
Other questions on this Service address this important issue from several points of view, and we refer you to them for additional discussion and references: #135, #175, and #262.