ACIM Text Reading for May 3
Chapter 14 ~ Teaching for Truth
VIII. The Holy Meeting Place
In the darkness you have obscured the glory God gave you, and the power He bestowed upon His guiltless Son. All this lies hidden in every darkened place, shrouded in guilt and in the dark denial of innocence. Behind the dark doors you have closed lies nothing, because nothing can obscure the gift of God. It is the closing of the doors that interferes with recognition of the power of God that shines in you. Banish not power from your mind, but let all that would hide your glory be brought to the judgement of the Holy Spirit, and there undone. Whom He would save for glory is saved for it. He has promised the Father that through Him you would be released from littleness to glory. To what He promised God He is wholly faithful, for He shares with God the promise that was given Him to share with you.
He shares it still, for you. Everything that promises otherwise, great or small, however much or little valued, He will replace with the one promise given unto Him to lay upon the altar to your Father and His Son. No altar stands to God without His Son. And nothing brought there that is not equally worthy of both, but will be replaced by gifts wholly acceptable to Father and to Son. Can you offer guilt to God? You cannot, then, offer it to His Son. For they are not apart, and gifts to one are offered to the other. You know not God because you know not this. And yet you do know God and also this. All this is safe within you, where the Holy Spirit shines. He shines not in division, but in the meeting place where God, united with His Son, speaks to His Son through Him. Communication between what cannot be divided cannot cease. The holy meeting place of the un-separated Father and His Son lies in the Holy Spirit and in you. All interference in the communication that God Himself wills with His Son is quite impossible here. Unbroken and uninterrupted love flows constantly between the Father and the Son, as both would have it be. And so it is.
Let your mind wander not through darkened corridors, away from light’s centre. You and your brother may choose to lead yourselves astray, but you can be brought together only by the Guide appointed for you. He will surely lead you to where God and His Son await your recognition. They are joined in giving you the gift of oneness, before which all separation vanishes. Unite with what you are. You cannot join with anything except reality. God’s glory and His Son’s belong to you in truth. They have no opposite, and nothing else can you bestow upon yourself.
There is no substitute for truth. And truth will make this plain to you as you are brought into the place where you must meet with truth. And there you must be led, through gentle understanding which can lead you nowhere else. Where God is, there are you. Such is the truth. Nothing can change the knowledge, given you by God, into unknowingness. Everything God created knows its Creator. For this is how creation is accomplished by the Creator and by His creations. In the holy meeting place are joined the Father and His creations, and the creations of His Son with Them together. There is one link that joins them all together, holding them in the oneness out of which creation happens.
The link with which the Father joins Himself to those He gives the power to create can never be dissolved. Heaven itself is union with all of creation, and with its one Creator. And Heaven remains the Will of God for you. Lay no gifts other than this upon your altars, for nothing can coexist with it. Here your little offerings are brought together with the gift of God, and only what is worthy of the Father will be accepted by the Son, for whom it is intended. To whom God gives Himself, He is given. Your little gifts will vanish on the altar, where He has placed His Own.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 3
For morning and evening review:
1. (109) I rest in God.
I rest in God today, and let Him work in me and through me, while I rest in Him in quiet and in perfect certainty.
2. (110) I am as God created me.
I am God’s Son. Today I lay aside all sick illusions of myself, and let my Father tell me Who I really am.
3. On the hour:
I rest in God.
On the half hour:
I am as God created me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) What happens when we die, and where do we go? Are the near-death experiences that many people report relevant to students of A Course in Miracles?
A) The “transition” to death can be likened to the following: 1) shifting from one sleeping dream to another; 2) completing the viewing of one video tape and beginning another; 3) changing channels from one television station to another at the completion of a program, or even before its completion if one so chooses; or finally 4) leaving one room and going into another, as was taught by the great 19th-century Indian sage Ramakrishna. Since consciousness is inherent in the split mind, and not found in the brain or body (although it is experienced there), physical death is but an illusion of an end to one’s mental state, which is retained at death. Despite this thought of separation being projected onto the body, it still remains within its source: the wrong mind. Therefore, one does not go anywhere at death. Returning to the analogy of changing television channels, one physically remains in the living room chair, even though one’s attention has shifted from the location seen on one television channel to another.
Moreover, it is important to realize that what we call death does not bring about a state of enlightenment or peace. If one does not complete the letting go of the ego’s thought system in its entirety, thereby letting go of the wrong mind, enlightenment or resurrection cannot be attainable. In fact, Jesus specifically cautions against such an escapist view of death:
What could you choose between but life or death, waking or sleeping, peace or war, your dreams or your reality? There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self which God created. Yet a thing can never be its opposite. And death is opposite to peace, because it is the opposite of life. And life is peace. Awaken [the meaning of resurrection] and forget all thoughts of death, and you will find you have the peace of God (T-27.VII.10:1-6; italics ours).
A recent variation of this belief that physical death brings freedom or release from the body is found in many people’s “near-death” experiences, and questions about these experiences often are raised during our classes and workshops. The reports usually include the person’s experience of leaving the body and proceeding through a dark tunnel to a circle or being of light, often identified as Jesus. This all-loving and gentle presence sometimes reviews the life with the person, and then “sends” the person back to complete lessons, accept certain responsibilities, or assume an important function (always a favorite of the ego’s specialness needs).
It is not for anyone to judge these near-death experiences, and it would be foolish to deny the very positive effects such experiences have had for people. However, one cancomment on the “theology” of such experiences and the conclusions drawn from them about the meaning of life, death, and the so-called after-life, or “life after life.”
The reader must keep in mind that A Course in Miracles states quite clearly that the mind is not in the body, though it certainly can appear otherwise. For example, from the workbook:
The mind can think it sleeps, but that is all. It cannot change what is its waking state. It cannot make a body, nor abide within a body. What is alien to the mind does not exist, because it has no source….What seems to be the opposite of life is merely sleeping. When the mind elects to be what it is not [the body], and to assume an alien power which it does not have, a foreign state [the body] it cannot enter, or a false condition not within its Source, it merely seems to go to sleep a while. It dreams of time; an interval in which what seems to happen never has occurred, the changes wrought are substanceless, and all events are nowhere. When the mind awakes, it but continues as it always was (W-pI.167.6:1-4; 9; italics ours).
And from “Beyond the Body” in the text:
The home of vengeance [the body] is not yours; the place you set aside to house your hate is not a prison, but an illusion of yourself. The body is a limit imposed on the universal communication that is an eternal property of mind. But the communication is internal. Mind reaches to itself. It is not made up of different parts, which reach each other. It does not go out. Within itself it has no limits, and there is nothing outside it. It encompasses everything. It encompasses you entirely; you within it and it within you. There is nothing else, anywhere or ever (T-I 8.VI.8:2-11; italics ours in sentences 5,7).
Therefore, when we consider such near-death experiences from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, we can see that they make no sense on the level of form. How can one leave one’s body, travel through a tunnel, and greet a great light, if one were never in the body in the first place? Remember that the self remains in the mind and not the body, just as a dreamer’s self is not in the dream, though parts of this self are reflected there. Again, this is not to deny or invalidate a personal experience, but it is to say that however valid an experience is for the person, the interpretation is purely subjective and should not be taken for “objective” truth. For example, everyone experiences the sun as rising and setting every day, and many people report very significant aesthetic and even spiritual feelings associated with sunrises and sunsets. And yet, we know scientifically that the sun does not rise or set, but rather it is the earth that does the movement: rotating on its axis and revolving around the sun. The experience is contrary to the true explanation. Similarly, we all experience the earth as flat as we go through our daily lives, even though we understand intellectually that it is round. And so, one’s experience of a near-death occurrence, or of a place to which one goes upon death (or near death) does not necessarily mean that what is understood as the experience is what truly is. And again, when one looks at such experiences through the lens of A Course in Miracles, one would understand them quite differently: expressions of forgiveness that were projected from the mind onto the body and its world of life, death, and near death.
As we have seen, therefore, there cannot in truth be an out-of-body experience since the mind is never in the body to begin with. And so the mind cannot leave the body, travel through a tunnel, and meet with Jesus after having left the body. Moreover, there is a danger in believing this way, because it strongly suggests — as do many people who have had such an experience — that such peace, joy, and happiness can only come to a person after having “died” and left the body. The whole focus of A Course in Miracles is on choosing and having a holy instant right now, on choosing Jesus or the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. One does not have to die to go to Heaven, since Heaven is an awareness of perfect Oneness, within the mind, and nothing else besides that. The wonderful experience of forgiveness that is frequently reported can be had in a holy instant, again, without having left the body, going through a tunnel, etc. Holding up near-death experiences to be idealized and sought for (as was depicted in the popular movie Flatliners) actually serves well the ego’s fundamental strategy of first making the body real, and then turning it into a repulsive thing. This sets up a situation in which people would wish to be free of its prison of darkness, yearning to escape into the non-corporeal light. And all the while, the ego’s thought system of separation, guilt, and specialness nestles comfortably in the mind, protected by the belief that there is indeed a body that is real, and one that truly exists in the physical world.
Thus, believing in the reality of such experiences is the very compromise with truth — giving light and darkness equal power and reality — that Jesus cautions against in A Course in Miracles. We see a clear statement of such a caution in the section on death in the manual for teachers, and we quote from this extremely important passage now. It begins with a reference to the standard religious belief that upon death the soul is freed to return to God, or to continue on its journey as in the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. However, the contemporary interest in near-death experiences, as we have just seen, falls into the same category of not recognizing the illusory nature of the entire physical universe and of individual existence — body, mind, and what is mistakenly referred to as “spirit”:
The curious belief that there is part of dying things [i.e., a soul, or “life force”] that may go on apart from what will die, does not proclaim a loving God nor re-establish any grounds for trust. If death is real for anything, there is no life. Death denies life. But if there is reality in life, death is denied. No compromise in this is possible. There is either a god of fear or One of Love. The world attempts a thousand compromises, and will attempt a thousand more. Not one can be acceptable to God’s teachers, because not one could be acceptable to God. He did not make death because He did not make fear. Both are equally meaningless to Him.The “reality” of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s Son is a body. And if God created bodies, death would indeed be real. But God would not be loving. There is no point at which the contrast between the perception of the real world and that of the world of illusions becomes more sharply evident….
“And the last to be overcome will be death” [the famous statement of St. Paul from his first letter to the Corinthians, 15:26]. Of course! Without the idea of death there is no world. All dreams will end with this one. This is salvation’s final goal; the end of all illusions. And in death are all illusions born. What can be born of death and still have life? But what is born of God and still can die? The inconsistencies, the compromises and the rituals the world fosters in its vain attempts to cling to death and yet to think love real are mindless magic, ineffectual and meaningless. God is, and in Him all created things must be eternal. Do you not see that otherwise He has an opposite, and fear would be as real as love?
Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which death plays a part. Do not believe in cruelty, nor let attack conceal the truth from you. What seems to die [the body that had been “alive”] has but been misperceived and carried to illusion. Now it becomes your task to let the illusion be carried to the truth. Be steadfast but in this; be not deceived by the “reality” of any changing form. Truth neither moves nor wavers nor sinks down to death and dissolution, And what is the end of death? Nothing but this; the realization that the Son of God is guiltless now and forever. Nothing but this. But do not let yourself forget it is not less than this (M-27.4:1-5:4; 6-7; italics ours).
In conclusion, therefore, we can understand that anything that seems to live and then die, that changes, grows, and subsequently deteriorates, or that appears to be separate from others, cannot be of God and therefore cannot be real. And so all categories that relate to bodies in any way — including death and near death — have no true meaning because they do not truly exist. Their only meaning within the illusion comes in their serving as classrooms in which we learn the lesson of discerning between the meaningless and the meaningful.