ACIM Text Reading for June 2
Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant
IV. Practising the Holy Instant
This course is not beyond immediate learning, unless you believe that what God wills takes time. And this means only that you would rather delay the recognition that His Will is so. The holy instant is this instant and every instant. The one you want it to be it is. The one you would not have it be is lost to you. You must decide when it is. Delay it not. For beyond the past and future, where you will not find it, it stands in shimmering readiness for your acceptance. Yet you cannot bring it into glad awareness while you do not want it, for it holds the whole release from littleness.
Your practise must therefore rest upon your willingness to let all littleness go. The instant in which magnitude dawns upon you is but as far away as your desire for it. As long as you desire it not and cherish littleness instead, by so much is it far from you. By so much as you want it will you bring it nearer. Think not that you can find salvation in your own way and have it. Give over every plan you have made for your salvation in exchange for God’s. His will content you, and nothing else can bring you peace. For peace is of God, and no one beside Him.
Be humble before Him, and yet great in Him. And value no plan of the ego before the plan of God. For you leave empty your place in His plan, which you must fill if you would join with me, by your decision to join in any plan but His. I call you to fulfil your holy part in the plan that He has given to the world for its release from littleness. God would have His host abide in perfect freedom. Every allegiance to a plan of salvation apart from Him diminishes the value of His Will for you in your own mind. And yet it is your mind that is the host to Him.
Would you learn how perfect and immaculate is the holy altar on which your Father has placed Himself? This you will recognise in the holy instant, in which you willingly and gladly give over every plan but His. For there lies peace, perfectly clear because you have been willing to meet its conditions. You can claim the holy instant any time and anywhere you want it. In your practise, try to give over every plan you have accepted for finding magnitude in littleness. It is not there. Use the holy instant only to recognise that you alone cannot know where it is, and can only deceive yourself.
I stand within the holy instant, as clear as you would have me. And the extent to which you learn to accept me is the measure of the time in which the holy instant will be yours. I call to you to make the holy instant yours at once, for the release from littleness in the mind of the host of God depends on willingness, and not on time.
The reason this course is simple is that truth is simple. Complexity is of the ego, and is nothing more than the ego’s attempt to obscure the obvious. You could live forever in the holy instant, beginning now and reaching to eternity, but for a very simple reason. Do not obscure the simplicity of this reason, for if you do, it will be only because you prefer not to recognise it and not to let it go. The simple reason, simply stated, is this: The holy instant is a time in which you receive and give perfect communication. This means, however, that it is a time in which your mind is open, both to receive and give. It is the recognition that all minds are in communication. It therefore seeks to change nothing, but merely to accept everything.
How can you do this when you would prefer to have private thoughts and keep them? The only way you could do that would be to deny the perfect communication that makes the holy instant what it is. You believe you can harbour thoughts you would not share, and that salvation lies in keeping thoughts to yourself alone. For in private thoughts, known only to yourself, you think you find a way to keep what you would have alone, and share what you would share. And then you wonder why it is that you are not in full communication with those around you, and with God Who surrounds all of you together.
Every thought you would keep hidden shuts communication off, because you would have it so. It is impossible to recognise perfect communication while breaking communication holds value to you. Ask yourself honestly, ‘Would I want to have perfect communication, and am I wholly willing to let everything that interferes with it go forever?’ If the answer is no, then the Holy Spirit’s readiness to give it to you is not enough to make it yours, for you are not ready to share it with Him. And it cannot come into a mind that has decided to oppose it. For the holy instant is given and received with equal willingness, being the acceptance of the single Will that governs all thought.
The necessary condition for the holy instant does not require that you have no thoughts that are not pure. But it does require that you have none that you would keep. Innocence is not of your making. It is given you the instant you would have it. Atonement would not be if there were no need for it. You will not be able to accept perfect communication as long as you would hide it from yourself. For what you would hide is hidden from you. In your practise, then, try only to be vigilant against deception, and seek not to protect the thoughts you would keep to yourself. Let the Holy Spirit’s purity shine them away, and bring all your awareness to the readiness for purity He offers you. Thus will He make you ready to acknowledge that you are host to God, and hostage to no one and to nothing.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 2
If I defend myself I am attacked.
Who would defend himself unless he thought he were attacked, that the attack were real, and that his own defense could save himself? And herein lies the folly of defense; it gives illusions full reality, and then attempts to handle them as real. It adds illusions to illusions, thus making correction doubly difficult. And it is this you do when you attempt to plan the future, activate the past, or organize the present as you wish.
You operate from the belief you must protect yourself from what is happening because it must contain what threatens you. A sense of threat is an acknowledgment of an inherent weakness; a belief that there is danger which has power to call on you to make appropriate defense. The world is based on this insane belief. And all its structures, all its thoughts and doubts, its penalties and heavy armaments, its legal definitions and its codes, its ethics and its leaders and its gods, all serve but to preserve its sense of threat. For no one walks the world in armature but must have terror striking at his heart.
Defense is frightening. It stems from fear, increasing fear as each defense is made. You think it offers safety. Yet it speaks of fear made real and terror justified. Is it not strange you do not pause to ask, as you elaborate your plans and make your armor thicker and your locks more tight, what you defend, and how, and against what?
Let us consider first what you defend. It must be something that is very weak and easily assaulted. It must be something made easy prey, unable to protect itself and needing your defense. What but the body has such frailty that constant care and watchful, deep concern are needful to protect its little life? What but the body falters and must fail to serve the Son of God as worthy host?
Yet it is not the body that can fear, nor be a thing of fear. It has no needs but those which you assign to it. It needs no complicated structures of defense, no health-inducing medicine, no care and no concern at all. Defend its life, or give it gifts to make it beautiful or walls to make it safe, and you but say your home is open to the thief of time, corruptible and crumbling, so unsafe it must be guarded with your very life.
Is not this picture fearful? Can you be at peace with such a concept of your home? Yet what endowed the body with the right to serve you thus except your own belief? It is your mind which gave the body all the functions that you see in it, and set its value far beyond a little pile of dust and water. Who would make defense of something that he recognized as this?
The body is in need of no defense. This cannot be too often emphasized. It will be strong and healthy if the mind does not abuse it by assigning it to roles it cannot fill, to purposes beyond its scope, and to exalted aims which it cannot accomplish. Such attempts, ridiculous yet deeply cherished, are the sources for the many mad attacks you make upon it. For it seems to fail your hopes, your needs, your values and your dreams.
The “self” that needs protection is not real. The body, valueless and hardly worth the least defense, need merely be perceived as quite apart from you, and it becomes a healthy, serviceable instrument through which the mind can operate until its usefulness is over. Who would want to keep it when its usefulness is done?
Defend the body and you have attacked your mind. For you have seen in it the faults, the weaknesses, the limits and the lacks from which you think the body must be saved. You will not see the mind as separate from bodily conditions. And you will impose upon the body all the pain that comes from the conception of the mind as limited and fragile, and apart from other minds and separate from its Source.
These are the thoughts in need of healing, and the body will respond with health when they have been corrected and replaced with truth. This is the body’s only real defense. Yet is this where you look for its defense? You offer it protection of a kind from which it gains no benefit at all, but merely adds to your distress of mind. You do not heal, but merely take away the hope of healing, for you fail to see where hope must lie if it be meaningful.
A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone.
A healed mind is relieved of the belief that it must plan, although it cannot know the outcome which is best, the means by which it is achieved, nor how to recognize the problem that the plan is made to solve. It must misuse the body in its plans until it recognizes this is so. But when it has accepted this as true, then is it healed, and lets the body go.
Enslavement of the body to the plans the unhealed mind sets up to save itself must make the body sick. It is not free to be the means of helping in a plan which far exceeds its own protection, and which needs its service for a little while. In this capacity is health assured. For everything the mind employs for this will function flawlessly, and with the strength that has been given it and cannot fail.
It is, perhaps, not easy to perceive that self-initiated plans are but defenses, with the purpose all of them were made to realize. They are the means by which a frightened mind would undertake its own protection, at the cost of truth. This is not difficult to realize in some forms which these self-deceptions take, where the denial of reality is very obvious. Yet planning is not often recognized as a defense.
The mind engaged in planning for itself is occupied in setting up control of future happenings. It does not think that it will be provided for, unless it makes its own provisions. Time becomes a future emphasis, to be controlled by learning and experience obtained from past events and previous beliefs. It overlooks the present, for it rests on the idea the past has taught enough to let the mind direct its future course.
The mind that plans is thus refusing to allow for change. What it has learned before becomes the basis for its future goals. Its past experience directs its choice of what will happen. And it does not see that here and now is everything it needs to guarantee a future quite unlike the past, without a continuity of any old ideas and sick beliefs. Anticipation plays no part at all, for present confidence directs the way.
Defenses are the plans you undertake to make against the truth. Their aim is to select what you approve, and disregard what you consider incompatible with your beliefs of your reality. Yet what remains is meaningless indeed. For it is your reality that is the “threat” which your defenses would attack, obscure, and take apart and crucify.
What could you not accept, if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good? Perhaps you have misunderstood His plan, for He would never offer pain to you. But your defenses did not let you see His loving blessing shine in every step you ever took. While you made plans for death, He led you gently to eternal life.
Your present trust in Him is the defense that promises a future undisturbed, without a trace of sorrow, and with joy that constantly increases, as this life becomes a holy instant, set in time, but heeding only immortality. Let no defenses but your present trust direct the future, and this life becomes a meaningful encounter with the truth that only your defenses would conceal.
Without defenses, you become a light which Heaven gratefully acknowledges to be its own. And it will lead you on in ways appointed for your happiness according to the ancient plan, begun when time was born. Your followers will join their light with yours, and it will be increased until the world is lighted up with joy. And gladly will our brothers lay aside their cumbersome defenses, which availed them nothing and could only terrify.
We will anticipate that time today with present confidence, for this is part of what was planned for us. We will be sure that everything we need is given us for our accomplishment of this today. We make no plans for how it will be done, but realize that our defenselessness is all that is required for the truth to dawn upon our minds with certainty.
For fifteen minutes twice today we rest from senseless planning, and from every thought that blocks the truth from entering our minds. Today we will receive instead of plan, that we may give instead of organize. And we are given truly, as we say:
If I defend myself I am attacked.
But in defenselessness I will be strong,
and I will learn what my defenses hide.
Nothing but that. If there are plans to make, you will be told of them. They may not be the plans you thought were needed, nor indeed the answers to the problems which you thought confronted you. But they are answers to another kind of question, which remains unanswered yet in need of answering until the Answer comes to you at last.
All your defenses have been aimed at not receiving what you will receive today. And in the light and joy of simple trust, you will but wonder why you ever thought that you must be defended from release. Heaven asks nothing. It is hell that makes extravagant demands for sacrifice. You give up nothing in these times today when, undefended, you present yourself to your Creator as you really are.
He has remembered you. Today we will remember Him. For this is Eastertime in your salvation. And you rise again from what was seeming death and hopelessness. Now is the light of hope reborn in you, for now you come without defense, to learn the part for you within the plan of God. What little plans or magical beliefs can still have value, when you have received your function from the Voice for God Himself?
Try not to shape this day as you believe would benefit you most. For you can not conceive of all the happiness that comes to you without your planning. Learn today. And all the world will take this giant stride, and celebrate your Eastertime with you. Throughout the day, as foolish little things appear to raise defensiveness in you and tempt you to engage in weaving plans, remind yourself this is a special day for learning, and acknowledge it with this:
This is my Eastertime. And I would keep it holy.
I will not defend myself, because the Son of God
needs no defense against the truth of his reality.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #698: Please share your understanding of the following sentence from Lesson 133 in the workbook of A Course in Miracles: “If you feel any guilt about your choice, you have allowed the ego’s goals to come between the real alternatives” (W.pI.133.11:2).
A: As decision-making minds we are always choosing only between what is real (therefore valuable) and nothingness (therefore valueless). If we choose to pursue the ego’s goals (specialness, separation, individuality, sin, etc.), that choice will be expressed through our choices in our everyday lives. The choice for the ego gets denied and buried in our minds, and we then think we are making meaningful choices in the world. When we feel guilty about a choice, that is telling us we must have chosen the ego first, which means from that point on all we have been choosing between are different forms of nothingness — what is valueless.
Q #225: I am reading A Course in Miracles for the second time and I am having trouble with Lesson 135. Does it mean that if someone physically attacks you or verbally attacks you, you should just do nothing? Should you allow someone to physically “beat you up”? I don’t think this is what it means. I just want to make sure I am interpreting this correctly. Does the practice of martial arts conflict with the Course’s teachings?
A: You are correct with regard to Lesson 135 “If I defend myself I am attacked.” It does not mean that you should allow yourself to be beaten up or abused, or to watch someone else being abused without intervening. This is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied concepts in the entire Course. It is important to remember that the Course is never talking about behavior, and that the practice of the Course should never exclude common sense. The Course is always focusing on the content in our minds. Thus, you can be in your right mind and forcibly stop another person from hitting you, or you can be in your wrong mind and do that. You can be in your right mind and do nothing, or you can be in your wrong mind and do nothing. If we can get past our ego for an instant, then anything we do or do not do would be “right.”
Throughout the Course, Jesus is always teaching us that our thinking flows from either the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s, whichever we have chosen. Thus in this lesson he is specifically teaching us that whenever we perceive ourselves attacked and we feel a need to defend ourselves, we have reinforced a self-concept of fear and vulnerability, which means we see ourselves as a body, not as God created us. Only if we are afraid would we have need of defenses. That is helpful information, for it lets us know which thought system we are identified with. But we cannot correct our faulty self-concept simply by allowing ourselves to be abused or violated in some way. That would not advance us spiritually, just as removing all locks from our doors and canceling insurance policies would not advance us spiritually. As long as we experience ourselves as bodies, then we need to respond to and respect our bodily needs, both physical and psychological.
Jesus is speaking to us from his perspective as a healed mind, which knows with certainty that bodies and this world are totally illusory. He is simply saying that we, whose minds are not healed, should pay careful attention to the thought system we have chosen to identify with, and then ask his help to look through his eyes to see what this world is really like, and what its purpose is. Then we would have a basis for choosing differently. He is helping us realize that there is an inherent fear in everyone, and that it is coming from our minds, not from hostile elements in the world or the body, which are all part of the ego’s strategy to keep us mindless. A defense against the fear and guilt in our minds is not necessary, because they are made up by the ego. We need only ask his help to correct our mistaken choice to identify with the ego thought system of sin, guilt, and fear. And we know that we have made that mistaken choice every time we experience ourselves as vulnerable and attacked. Again, that does not mean that we do not protect ourselves in whatever way is appropriate in the world, including the use of martial arts.
Finally, Jesus does not mean in this lesson that we should never make plans; he means only that we should consult with him first, because as unhealed minds we have no idea of what is in our best interests, or in anyone else’s best interests. We must even be vigilant about presuming to know what our problems are, lest we fall into the ego trap of telling Jesus or the Holy Spirit how They should solve our problems. Our energies and efforts would be much better placed in asking for help to forgive, for that alone will remove the barriers to our truly hearing the Voice for Love, Whose wisdom would gently guide us in all our words and actions. Guilt is the problem, forgiveness is the answer. We need never get more specific than that.
Q #877: A Course in Miracles teaches: “A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. . . .” (W.pI.135.11).
I have trouble accepting this passage completely. To me it appears like “slavery” or treating human beings as machines rather than sentient beings with a will of their own. Of course, you would say, we really have no will of our own but God’s. But what puzzles me is the fact that we should listen to wisdom that is not of our own, i.e. outside ourselves? How can this be if we are God’s Sons and thus His and our will are one? We can but listen to ourselves and follow that. Hence, surrendering to something outside ourselves (something “not our own”), seems somewhat unacceptable if not wholly impossible to me. Hence, the whole passage makes me turn my head, I feel it should read rather “listen to your inner guides and follow that” rather than “wait and see and be guided by some force outside yourselves”? I feel the whole passage is without love and understanding for the human situation.
A: This entire lesson, not just this passage, is presented as a correction of the ways we typically go about our lives in terms of protecting ourselves and shoring up what we judge to be our vulnerabilities. Jesus is helping us get at the unquestioned assumptions that are at the basis of all of our planning for the future — e.g., that we are real as bodies in a physical universe that is real, and that we are capable of defining our problems and solving them. Getting us to look at those assumptions is one of Jesus’ objectives in this lesson.
A major objective of the lessons in Part I of the workbook is to train us to turn our attention inward to the decision-making part of our minds, so that we would gradually realize that everything we experience originates with the choice we make to follow either the ego’s direction or Jesus’ direction. So when Jesus says in Lesson 135 that the healed mind listens to a “wisdom that is not its own,” he means that that mind that had formerly identified with the ego no longer chooses the ego as its teacher and now listens only to the Holy Spirit. When finally our minds are fully healed, the Holy Spirit’s Voice becomes our own — there is no difference — we hear only the one Voice at all times. But it is also true at that stage that the self that could choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit is gone, and then there is but a single Will. The “human condition” would have been totally transcended — not through surrender to some outside force, but by our own choice to deny our denial of the truth of Who we are (T.12.II.1:5) .
We have to try to connect with the point that Jesus is making at any given time in the Course, because he uses language and concepts loosely. The content is always consistent, but the language is not. Sometimes, for example, he is emphasizing our having deliberately split ourselves off from our true Self, and so he will speak as if Christ were different from us. This is reflected in a later lesson when he has us say, “A while I work with Him to serve His purpose. Then I lose myself in my Identity, and recognize that Christ is but my Self” (W.pII.353.1:4,5) . Jesus thus assists us with the process — which can take many, many years — of disidentifying with the human self we chose as a defense against our true Self, so that we would regain our invulnerable, innocent Identity as God’s one Son. It is a gentle process, providing all the help we need to reach this goal: “Our Love awaits us as we go to Him, and walks beside us showing us the way. He fails in nothing. He the End we seek, and He the Means by which we go to Him” (W.pII.302.2) . Love is our goal and we are one in that Love; but at the same time, the reflection of that Love is here to meet us in our human condition so that we could gradually realize that it is that Love beyond all humanness that we truly want.
You might be interested in Question #225 that also comments on Lesson 13 5 .