A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 4, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for June 4

Chapter 18

THE PASSING OF THE DREAM

I. The Substitute Reality

To substitute is to accept instead. If you would but consider exactly what this entails, you would perceive at once how much at variance this is with the goal the Holy Spirit has given you, and would accomplish for you. To substitute is to choose between, renouncing one aspect of the Sonship in favour of the other. For this special purpose, one is judged more valuable and the other is replaced by him. The relationship in which the substitution occurred is thus fragmented, and its purpose split accordingly. To fragment is to exclude, and substitution is the strongest defence the ego has for separation.

The Holy Spirit never uses substitutes. Where the ego perceives one person as a replacement for another, the Holy Spirit sees them joined and indivisible. He does not judge between them, knowing they are one. Being united, they are one because they are the same. Substitution is clearly a process in which they are perceived as different. One would unite; the other separate. Nothing can come between what God has joined and what the Holy Spirit sees as one. But everything seems to come between the fragmented relationships the ego sponsors to destroy.

The one emotion in which substitution is impossible is love. Fear involves substitution by definition, for it is love’s replacement. Fear is both a fragmented and fragmenting emotion. It seems to take many forms, and each one seems to require a different form of acting out for satisfaction. While this appears to introduce quite variable behaviour, a far more serious effect lies in the fragmented perception from which the behaviour stems. No one is seen complete. The body is emphasised, with special emphasis on certain parts, and used as the standard for comparison of acceptance or rejection for acting out a special form of fear.

You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms, because it was the substitution of illusion for truth; of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to, time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship that you have ever made is part of it.

You may be surprised to hear how very different is reality from what you see. You do not realise the magnitude of that one error. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge. What else could come of it? Its fragmented aspects are fearful enough, as you begin to look at them. But nothing you have seen begins to show you the enormity of the original error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and to force you to make further substitutions.

That was the first projection of error outward. The world arose to hide it, and became the screen on which it was projected and drawn between you and the truth. For truth extends inward, where the idea of loss is meaningless and only increase is conceivable. Do you really think it strange that a world in which everything is backwards and upside down arose from this projection of error? It was inevitable. For truth brought to this could only remain within in quiet, and take no part in all the mad projection by which this world was made. Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it.

When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error rising to frighten you, say only, ‘God is not fear, but love’, and it will disappear. The truth will save you. It has not left you, to go out into the mad world and so depart from you. Inward is sanity; insanity is outside you. You but believe it is the other way; that truth is outside, and error and guilt within. Your little, senseless substitutions, touched with insanity and swirling lightly off on a mad course like feathers dancing insanely in the wind, have no substance. They fuse and merge and separate, in shifting and totally meaningless patterns that need not be judged at all. To judge them individually is pointless. Their tiny differences in form are no real differences at all. None of them matters. That they have in common and nothing else. Yet what else is necessary to make them all the same?

Let them all go, dancing in the wind, dipping and turning till they disappear from sight, far, far outside of you. And turn you to the stately calm within, where in holy stillness dwells the living God you never left, and Who never left you. The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand, and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within. He brings all your insane projections and the wild substitutions that you have placed outside you to the truth. Thus He reverses the course of insanity and restores you to reason.

In your relationship with your brother, where He has taken charge of everything at your request, He has set the course inward to the truth you share. In the mad world outside you nothing can be shared but only substituted, and sharing and substituting have nothing in common in reality. Within yourself you love your brother with a perfect love. Here is holy ground, in which no substitution can enter, and where only the truth in your brother can abide. Here you are joined in God, as much together as you are with Him. The original error has not entered here, nor ever will. Here is the radiant truth, to which the Holy Spirit has committed your relationship. Let Him bring it here, where you would have it be. Give Him but a little faith in your brother, to help him show you that no substitute you made for Heaven can keep you from it.

In you there is no separation, and no substitute can keep you from your brother. Your reality was God’s creation, and has no substitute. You are so firmly joined in truth that only God is there. And He would never accept something else instead of you. He loves you both, equally and as one. And as He loves you, so you are. You are not joined together in illusions, but in the Thought so holy and so perfect that illusions cannot remain to darken the holy place in which you stand together. God is with you, my brother. Let us join in Him in peace and gratitude, and accept His gift as our most holy and perfect reality, which we share in Him.

Heaven is restored to all the Sonship through your relationship, for in it lies the Sonship, whole and beautiful, safe in your love. Heaven has entered quietly, for all illusions have been gently brought unto the truth in you, and love has shined upon you, blessing your relationship with truth. God and His whole creation have entered it together. How lovely and how holy is your relationship, with the truth shining upon it! Heaven beholds it, and rejoices that you have let it come to you. And God Himself is glad that your relationship is as it was created. The universe within you stands with you, together with your brother. And Heaven looks with love on what is joined in it, along with its Creator.

Whom God has called should hear no substitutes. Their call is but an echo of the original error that shattered Heaven. And what became of peace in those who heard? Return with me to Heaven, walking together with your brother out of this world and through another, to the loveliness and joy the other holds within it. Would you still further, weaken and break apart what is already broken and hopeless? Is it here that you would look for happiness? Or would you not prefer to heal what has been broken, and join in making whole what has been ravaged by separation and disease?

You have been called, together with your brother, to the most holy function this world contains. It is the only one that has no limits, and reaches out to every broken fragment of the Sonship with healing and uniting comfort. This is offered you, in your holy relationship. Accept it here, and you will give as you have accepted. The peace of God is given you with the glowing purpose in which you join with your brother. The holy light that brought you and him together must extend, as you accepted it.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 4

Lesson 150

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(139) I will accept Atonement for myself.

(140) Only salvation can be said to cure.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

 Q) Is it necessary to do the workbook more than once?

A) No. The workbook for students is set up as a one-year training program, and there is no reason for a student to deviate from that. It is clear from the workbook itself, as has already been stated, that Jesus does not expect his students to complete the learning process in one year. A Course in Miracles is a lifetime’s work, and the one-year program of the workbook — which probably should be done relatively early in a student’s work with the Course, although everyone’s practice with it is different — is simply to orient the student on the right path with the right teacher. Then placed in the Holy Spirit’s hands, we spend the rest of our lives having Him be our Teacher of forgiveness:

And now I place you in His [the Holy Spirit’s] hands, to be His faithful follower, with Him as Guide through every difficulty and all pain that you may think is real….Let Him prepare you further. He has earned your trust by speaking daily to you of your Father and your brother and your Self. He will continue. Now you walk with Him, as certain as is He of where you go; as sure as He of how you should proceed; as confident as He is of the goal, and of your safe arrival in the end (workbook, p. 477; W-ep.4:1,3-6).

Very often, students’ wishes to repeat the workbook (or specific lessons in an almost compulsive need to get it right) come from the desire to do it perfectly, recognizing how imperfect their willingness and practice have been. This defeats the whole purpose of the workbook, which is to train students to hear the Holy Spirit’s Voice of forgiveness, instead of the ego’s guilt. Indeed, one can even make the statement that the purpose of the workbook is to do it imperfectly, so that the mistake — labeled by the ego as a sin — of turning away from God and not placing Him first in one’s life, can be forgiven and not taken seriously. Jesus’ instructions to his students in Lesson 95 underscore this important goal of forgiveness. They are given in the context of students not doing the lessons perfectly, and choosing to forget the daily lesson in the course of the day:

Do not, however, use your lapses from this schedule as an excuse not to return to it again as soon as you can. There  may well be a temptation to regard the day as lost because you have already failed to do what is required. This should, however, merely be recognized as what it is; a refusal to let your mistake be corrected, and an unwillingness to try  again.The Holy Spirit is not delayed in His teaching by your mistakes. He can be held back only by your unwillingness to let them go. Let us therefore be determined, particularly for the next week or so, to be willing to forgive ourselves for  our lapses in diligence, and our failures to follow the instructions for practicing the day’s idea.  This tolerance  for weakness will enable us to overlook it, rather than give it power to delay our learning. If we give it power to do this,  we are regarding it as strength, and are confusing strength with weakness.

When you fail to comply with the requirements of this course, you have merely made a mistake. This calls for correction, and for nothing else. To allow a mistake to continue is to make additional mistakes, based on the first and reinforcing it. It is this process that must be laid aside, for it is but another way in which you would defend illusions  against the truth (W-pl.95.7:3-9:4; italics ours).

This does not mean, certainly, that students should not do the workbook a second or third time, but, as we stated in the previous answer, they should be vigilant against their ego’s need to reinforce sin and guilt, and atone for such sin by becoming “perfect.” In other words, students should treat their relationship with the workbook as a classroom as well; a classroom in which they bring their misperceptions to Jesus for help and correction. In this sense, we can add a postscript to our answer to the previous question about there being a “right way” to do the workbook. There is: the “right way” is to do the workbook the “wrong way,” and then to have Jesus help you to forgive yourself. In this way you are beginning — in the context of “forgetting” about God by “forgetting” the daily lesson — the process of accepting forgiveness for having turned away from God in the original instant of separation.

forgiveness is still

Advertisements

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 17

ACIM Text Reading for June 17

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

VII. The End of Illusions

It is impossible to let the past go without relinquishing the special relationship. For the special relationship is an attempt to re-enact the past and change it. Imagined slights, remembered pain, past disappointments, perceived injustices and deprivations all enter into the special relationship, which becomes a way in which you seek to restore your wounded self-esteem. What basis would you have for choosing a special partner without the past? Every such choice is made because of something ‘evil’ in the past to which you cling, and for which must someone else atone.

The special relationship takes vengeance on the past. By seeking to remove suffering in the past, it overlooks the present in its preoccupation with the past and its total commitment to it. No special relationship is experienced in the present. Shades of the past envelop it, and make it what it is. It has no meaning in the present, and if it means nothing now, it cannot have any real meaning at all. How can you change the past except in fantasy? And who can give you what you think the past deprived you of? The past is nothing. Do not seek to lay the blame for deprivation on it, for the past is gone. You cannot really not let go what has already gone. It must be, therefore, that you are maintaining the illusion that it has not gone because you think it serves some purpose that you want fulfilled. And it must also be that this purpose could not be fulfilled in the present, but only in the past.

Do not underestimate the intensity of the ego’s drive for vengeance on the past. It is completely savage and completely insane. For the ego remembers everything you have done that has offended it, and seeks retribution of you. The fantasies it brings to its chosen relationships in which to act out its hate are fantasies of your destruction. For the ego holds the past against you, and in your escape from the past it sees itself deprived of the vengeance it believes you so justly merit. Yet without your alliance in your own destruction, the ego could not hold you to the past. In the special relationship you are allowing your destruction to be. That this is insane is obvious. But what is less obvious is that the present is useless to you while you pursue the ego’s goal as its ally.

The past is gone; seek not to preserve it in the special relationship that binds you to it, and would teach you salvation is past and so you must return to the past to find salvation. There is no fantasy that does not contain the dream of retribution for the past. Would you act out the dream, or let it go?

In the special relationship it does not seem to be an acting out of vengeance that you seek. And even when the hatred and the savagery break briefly through, the illusion of love is not profoundly shaken. Yet the one thing the ego never allows to reach awareness is that the special relationship is the acting out of vengeance on yourself. Yet what else could it be? In seeking the special relationship, you look not for glory in yourself. You have denied that it is there, and the relationship becomes your substitute for it. And vengeance becomes your substitute for Atonement, and the escape from vengeance becomes your loss.

Against the ego’s insane notion of salvation the Holy Spirit gently lays the holy instant. We said before that the Holy Spirit must teach through comparisons, and uses opposites to point to truth. The holy instant is the opposite of the ego’s fixed belief in salvation through vengeance for the past. In the holy instant it is understood that the past is gone, and with its passing the drive for vengeance has been uprooted and has disappeared. The stillness and the peace of now enfold you in perfect gentleness. Everything is gone except the truth.

For a time you may attempt to bring illusions into the holy instant, to hinder your full awareness of the complete difference, in all respects, between your experience of truth and illusion. Yet you will not attempt this long. In the holy instant the power of the Holy Spirit will prevail, because you joined Him. The illusions you bring with you will weaken the experience of Him for a while, and will prevent you from keeping the experience in your mind. Yet the holy instant is eternal, and your illusions of time will not prevent the timeless from being what it is, nor you from experiencing it as it is.

What God has given you is truly given, and will be truly received. For God’s gifts have no reality apart from your receiving them. Your receiving completes His giving. You will receive because it is His Will to give. He gave the holy instant to be given you, and it is impossible that you receive it not because He gave it. When He willed that His Son be free, His Son was free. In the holy instant is His reminder that His Son will always be exactly as he was created. And everything the Holy Spirit teaches is to remind you that you have received what God has given you.

There is nothing you can hold against reality. All that must be forgiven are the illusions you have held against your brothers. Their reality has no past, and only illusions can be forgiven. God holds nothing against anyone, for He is incapable of illusions of any kind. Release your brothers from the slavery of their illusions by forgiving them for the illusions you perceive in them. Thus will you learn that you have been forgiven, for it is you who offered them illusions. In the holy instant this is done for you in time, to bring you the true condition of Heaven.

Remember that you always choose between truth and illusion; between the real Atonement that would heal and the ego’s ‘atonement’ that would destroy. The power of God and all His Love, without limit, will support you as you seek only your place in the plan of Atonement arising from His Love. Be an ally of God and not the ego in seeking how Atonement can come to you. His help suffices, for His Messenger understands how to restore the Kingdom to you, and to place all your investment in salvation in your relationship with Him.

Seek and find His message in the holy instant, where all illusions are forgiven. From there the miracle extends to bless everyone and to resolve all problems, be they perceived as great or small, possible or impossible. There is nothing that will not give place to Him and to His majesty. To join in close relationship with Him is to accept relationships as real, and through their reality to give over all illusions for the reality of your relationship with God. Praise be to your relationship with Him and to no other. The truth lies there and nowhere else. You choose this or nothing.

Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter. Our holiness is Yours. What can there be in us that needs forgiveness when Yours is perfect? The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love. Let us not wander into temptation, for the temptation of the Son of God is not Your Will. And let us receive only what You have given, and accept but this into the minds which You created and which You love. Amen.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 17

Lesson 150

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(139) I will accept Atonement for myself.
(140) Only salvation can be said to cure.

***
ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1001I am a high school drop-out. I have made an ego that never was able to make an adult life for herself. I feel so isolated and helpless to change the loneliness that I want to die. In my 55 years I have failed at everything that I have tried to do. Mental illness and emotional disturbance are what my life has been and I see no hope out of this living hell. But this is just the ego I made up. Jesus says I could see peace instead of this because I am not this wretched ego! I know that intellectually, but it doesn’t make any difference — it doesn’t stop the pain. Can you please point me in the right direction as I try to accept God’s help and experience peace?

A: It may be of some comfort for you to know that you are not alone. The pain you describe is the inevitable experience of everyone when the mind chooses to believe that separation from God is possible and has been accomplished. The anguish is often denied, covered over, and camouflaged, but it is universal for all the separated ones. The pain of separation cannot be dismissed with an intellectual understanding of its origin as taught by the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles. In fact, using the principles of the Course to try to squelch the pangs of pain only exacerbates the problem. The Course’s teachings are meant to be applied gently, beginning with the kind acceptance of oneself, no matter what the ego’s baggage may look like in one’s life. The Course’s message of forgiveness is that the thought of separation is not a sin, whatever form it takes, nor is anyone a sinner who comes here seeking what cannot be found here.

Jesus acknowledges the feelings the separation engenders when he tells us in the workbook: “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. You think if what is true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible” (W.p.I.93.1:1,2,3, ) . Notice he does not say some of you may think this. These words apply equally to those who view themselves as failures and to those who consider themselves great successes on the world’s terms. Everyone holds this secret (or not so secret) thought about themselves. The key words in this statement are: “you think you are….” Jesus is not saying that we are these things, but he acknowledges, without judgment, that we perceive ourselves in this way. This is a very important distinction and a very important passage. In it we find recognition of the condition in which we seem to find ourselves, acceptance of it as our experience, and most importantly, no judgment in its regard. This is one of the many ways Jesus provides us with a model for our learning. He does what he asks us to do: look honestly at how we truly feel, accept that these are our feelings, and not judge them as sinful. The real anguish does not come from being a failure in the world, but in the judgment that this failure is proof that you are a miserable sinner who deserves to die. It is always the interpretation of a situation that gives it meaning. These interpretations are what Jesus asks us to question so we may determine whether we have chosen to think with the ego, which fills our lives with conflict, or with the Holy Spirit, Who fills us with peace. Finding peace then requires willingness to exchange the ego’s perception for the Holy Spirit’s, which implies willingness to let go of the ego’s interpretation.

The Holy Spirit sets a standard for success and failure in direct opposition to what the ego teaches. The world bombards us with the message that we can, and must find happiness in this world, and our success is measured by this happiness. Our judgments against ourselves are founded on this belief. The Course teaches that this belief system is backwards and is based on the belief that the separation has not only occurred, but has been a smashing success. The ego views mental and emotional distress as failure; the Holy Spirit sees it and every aspect of our lives as a classroom in which to reinterpret everything according to His message. He is teaching us that the sickness we all suffer from is in the mind that believes it is a body which suffers emotionally and psychologically because it identifies with the thought of separation. The problem is not that we think monstrous things about ourselves, it is that we believe they are true, take them seriously, and more significantly, judge them to be sinful. The ego tells us that someone with mental illness is more in hell than someone who is emotionally balanced. Hell is hell. While the world offers many different Band-Aids with the illusion of relieving the pain of separation, none of them contributes to true healing. A successful life does not bring healing, and emotional distress does not prevent it. The only way to set yourself in the direction of peace is to be willing to accept that what you believe about yourself is not true, and to put your faith in the practice of forgiveness as the Course teaches. In the text, Jesus gently calls us to faith: “Have faith in only this one thing, and it will be sufficient: God wills you be in Heaven, and nothing can keep you from it, or it from you. Your wildest misperceptions, your weird imaginings, your blackest nightmares all mean nothing. They will not prevail against the peace God wills for you. (T.13.XI.7:1,2,3).

  If the pain and misery of your life have led you to the teachings of the Course, they have served a useful purpose. There remains only the choice to accept the hope it offers by taking the first small step of acknowledging that the mind that chose devastation can make a different choice. Since the ego has failed you, you now have the opportunity to succeed by pursuing the Holy Spirit’s curriculum with an open mind. This requires only that you consider that maybe you have been wrong about who you are, maybe you are not a hopeless failure, and maybe the Holy Spirit is right. You have already set yourself in the right direction in seeking Jesus’ message in the Course and are therefore “…no longer wholly insane, nor no longer alone” (T.17.VII.10:2). This in itself is no small comfort.


Q #1002I am new to the Course and am confused about how to forgive, how to continue to work as a massage therapist since the body is an illusion, how to practice another belief system while learning the Course. I was intensely abused by someone who believed that their system was the only way and I was to go against my nature and be part of them. I am afraid that I may be misled again. Are there things here that can help us in our learning, even though we do not know where we are going?

A: Since A Course in Miracles is a thought system that completely reverses the ego’s thinking, it is important to be gentle and patient in applying its teachings to our lives. This reversal means allowing the Holy Spirit to transform every judgment we have about everything. Obviously this is a process that takes time, not because time is real, but because we believe it is real, along with everything else in the illusory world. The first change from the ego’s perception to the Holy Spirit’s is to see one’s life as a classroom for learning the lessons of forgiveness. This lays the foundation for all subsequent steps in reversing our thinking. Each step requires that we not skip steps. Remembering how invested we are in identifying with the body helps to set the gentle pace of looking at everything differently. While learning to apply the principles of the Course to our lives, we continue to live and work as usual. It is not helpful to deny our experience as bodies, nor to try to believe that our perceived needs, experiences, and relationships are illusory, since we still believe they are real. The Holy Spirit needs them as teaching tools in His classroom for learning forgiveness.

We are not being coerced or pressured in any way to do anything we are unwilling to do. “ …God’s Will cannot be forced upon you, being an experience of total willingness” (T.8.III.2:3) . In fact, there is a safeguard against coercion in the Course, for it tells us we will not learn anything we do not want to learn. Our practice and learning is therefore commensurate with our willingness. Willingness is the only requirement for our practice of the Course. Neither perfection nor complete understanding is required. It begins with willingness to look at every grievance as the projection of the mind’s guilt for having chosen to believe the separation is real. Thus every relationship, indeed everything in our lives, is useful in the practice of forgiveness. Anything that is not perfect peace, from a slight annoyance to raging anger (See W.pI.21:2) , reflects back to us the mind’s decision to listen to the ego’s tale of separation, rather than the Holy Spirit’s truth of our oneness as God’s Son. Forgiveness means recognizing that this decision is the true source of all pain and conflict in our lives and in the world. Thus, the problem is in the mind, not in other people or the world, or even one’s own body. The solution, therefore, is found in the mind as well. The goal of the Course is to train us to look at everything in our lives from this perspective (See W.in.) , and to gradually learn that nothing external to the mind has any effect on it.

The Course is not the only spiritual path that leads us back home. As we are told in the manual, it is one among many forms (See M.1.3,4) . Every mind will eventually choose to accept the truth of our oneness with each other and with God. That is the content at the heart of the Course’s teaching. As you familiarize yourself with its fundamental principles, you will find that they are distinct from the teachings of other spiritual paths. In many cases they are in striking contrast to most theological and spiritual disciplines. Trying to follow another belief system while learning the Course will eventually introduce conflict in your practice and impede progress. And since the ego already presents us with a vast array of distractions and obstacles, another conflict is an unnecessary burden. If you resonate to the Course’s teaching and choose to take it as your spiritual path, you will find that it requires only that you proceed gently and patiently, one step at a time, at a pace set only by your own desire and willingness. This may mean combining the Course with other paths for a time. The Holy Spirit will never take them away from you. If we are willing to question our interpretation of things, and ask for help, the Holy Spirit will use everything as a learning tool, and “…will respond fully to [the] slightest invitation” (T.5.VII.6:6).

the mind that serves spirit

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 30

ACIM Text Reading for May 30

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

III. Shadows of the Past

To forgive is merely to remember only the loving thoughts you gave in the past, and those that were given you. All the rest must be forgotten. Forgiveness is a selective remembering, based not on your selection. For the shadow figures you would make immortal are “enemies” of reality. Be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do. The shadow figures are the witnesses you bring with you to demonstrate he did what he did not. Because you bring them, you will hear them. And you who keep them by your own selection do not understand how they came into your mind, and what their purpose is. They represent the evil that you think was done to you. You bring them with you only that you may return evil for evil, hoping that their witness will enable you to think guiltily of another and not harm yourself. They speak so clearly for the separation that no one not obsessed with keeping separation could hear them. They offer you the “reasons” why you should enter into unholy alliances to support the ego’s goals, and make your relationships the witness to its power.

It is these shadow figures that would make the ego holy in your sight, and teach you what you do to keep it safe is really love. The shadow figures always speak for vengeance, and all relationships into which they enter are totally insane. Without exception, these relationships have as their purpose the exclusion of the truth about the other, and of yourself. This is why you see in both what is not there, and make of both the slaves of vengeance. And why whatever reminds you of your past grievances attracts you, and seems to go by the name of love, no matter how distorted the associations by which you arrive at the connection may be. And finally, why all such relationships become attempts at union through the body, for only bodies can be seen as means for vengeance. That bodies are central to all unholy relationships is evident. Your own experience has taught you this. But what you may not realize are all the reasons that go to make the relationship unholy. For unholiness seeks to reinforce itself, as holiness does, by gathering to itself what it perceives as like itself.

In the unholy relationship, it is not the body of the other with which union is attempted, but the bodies of those who are not there. For even the body of the other, already a severely limited perception of him, is not the central focus as it is, or in entirety. What can be used for fantasies of vengeance, and what can be most readily associated with those on whom vengeance is really sought, is centered on and separated off as being the only parts of value. Every step taken in the making, the maintaining and the breaking off of the unholy relationship is a move toward further fragmentation and unreality. The shadow figures enter more and more, and the one in whom they seem to be decreases in importance.

Time is indeed unkind to the unholy relationship. For time is cruel in the ego’s hands, as it is kind when used for gentleness. The attraction of the unholy relationship begins to fade and to be questioned almost at once. Once it is formed, doubt must enter in, because its purpose is impossible. The “ideal” of the unholy relationship thus becomes one in which the reality of the other does not enter at all to “spoil” the dream. And the less the other really brings to the relationship, the “better” it becomes. Thus, the attempt at union becomes a way of excluding even the one with whom the union was sought. For it was formed to get him out of it, and join with fantasies in uninterrupted “bliss.”

How can the Holy Spirit bring His interpretation of the body as a means of communication into relationships whose only purpose is separation from reality? What forgiveness is enables Him to do so. If all but loving thoughts have been forgotten, what remains is eternal. And the transformed past is made like the present. No longer does the past conflict with now. This continuity extends the present by increasing its reality and its value in your perception of it. In these loving thoughts is the spark of beauty hidden in the ugliness of the unholy relationship where hatred is remembered; yet there to come alive as the relationship is given to Him Who gives it life and beauty. That is why Atonement centers on the past, which is the source of separation, and where it must be undone. For separation must be corrected where it was made.

The ego seeks to “resolve” its problems, not at their source, but where they were not made. And thus it seeks to guarantee there will be no solution. The Holy Spirit wants only to make His resolutions complete and perfect, and so He seeks and finds the source of problems where it is, and there undoes it. And with each step in His undoing is the separation more and more undone, and union brought closer. He is not at all confused by any “reasons” for separation. All He perceives in separation is that it must be undone. Let Him uncover the hidden spark of beauty in your relationships, and show it to you. Its loveliness will so attract you that you will be unwilling ever to lose the sight of it again. And you will let this spark transform the relationship so you can see it more and more. For you will want it more and more, and become increasingly unwilling to let it be hidden from you. And you will learn to seek for and establish the conditions in which this beauty can be seen.

All this you will do gladly, if you but let Him hold the spark before you, to light your way and make it clear to you. God’s Son is one. Whom God has joined as one, the ego cannot put asunder. The spark of holiness must be safe, however hidden it may be, in every relationship. For the Creator of the one relationship has left no part of it without Himself. This is the only part of the relationship the Holy Spirit sees, because He knows that only this is true. You have made the relationship unreal, and therefore unholy, by seeing it where it is not and as it is not. Give the past to Him Who can change your mind about it for you. But first, be sure you fully realize what you have made the past to represent, and why.

The past becomes the justification for entering into a continuing, unholy alliance with the ego against the present. For the present is forgiveness. Therefore, the relationships the unholy alliance dictates are not perceived nor felt as now. Yet the frame of reference to which the present is referred for meaning is an illusion of the past, in which those elements that fit the purpose of the unholy alliance are retained, and all the rest let go. And what is thus let go is all the truth the past could ever offer to the present as witnesses for its reality. What is kept but witnesses to the reality of dreams.

It is still up to you to choose to join with truth or with illusion. But remember that to choose one is to let the other go. Which one you choose you will endow with beauty and reality, because the choice depends on which you value more. The spark of beauty or the veil of ugliness, the real world or the world of guilt and fear, truth or illusion, freedom or slavery — it is all the same. For you can never choose except between God and the ego. Thought systems are but true or false, and all their attributes come simply from what they are. Only the Thoughts of God are true. And all that follows from them comes from what they are, and is as true as is the holy Source from Which they came.

My holy brother, I would enter into all your relationships, and step between you and your fantasies. Let my relationship to you be real to you, and let me bring reality to your perception of your brothers. They were not created to enable you to hurt yourself through them. They were created to create with you. This is the truth that I would interpose between you and your goal of madness. Be not separate from me, and let not the holy purpose of Atonement be lost to you in dreams of vengeance. Relationships in which such dreams are cherished have excluded me. Let me enter in the Name of God and bring you peace, that you may offer peace to me.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 30

Lesson 150

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(139) I will accept Atonement for myself.
(140) Only salvation can be said to cure.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #361: One of my favorite passages from A Course in Miracles is “To forgive is merely to remember all the loving thoughts you gave in the past and those that were given you….ALL THE REST MUST BE FORGOTTEN”…Sorry but I can’t tell you where it is found in the text. I would like your comment on this passage. I have never heard anyone else mention it…maybe I’m missing something…and I wouldn’t want to do that!! Maybe the “merely” doesn’t really mean “merely”…maybe my approach should be more complex…anyway…it’s a beautiful passage…!

A: This passage is from “Shadows of the Past” (T.17.III.1:1,2). This is the heart of the forgiveness process. There is a parallel passage occurring earlier in the text: “Do not, then, be deceived in your brother, and see only his loving thoughts as his reality, for by denying that his mind is split you will heal yours” (T.11.VIII.9:1). The practice of this is not easy because of the investment we all have in seeing other people as the cause of our problems. As a result, our resistance to complete forgiveness will be quite strong, or in our zeal to be holy and spiritual, we will simply cover over all the pain and hurt inside so that we will see only what is loving in ourselves and others. The pain and hurt remain, though, and forgiveness then is not sincere. This is a process requiring complete honesty and patience with ourselves, and asking for help to look at how tempting it is to hold on to grievances and to blame others for our distress. That is why Jesus says “Do not, then, be deceived in your brother…” He knows that we have been deceived because we see ourselves as the innocent victims of others’ wickedness or viciousness. So we must first look at this tendency within ourselves, recognize where it is coming from, and then ask for help to be guided by the Teacher of forgiveness.

Q #362: The workbook of A Course in Miracles says “forgiveness looks, and waits, and judges not.” I understand the looking and the not judging, but what exactly are we waiting for?

A: This is a way of saying that we will awaken from the dream when we no longer are afraid of letting go of the false self we made, and are ready to accept back our true Identity as the one Son of God. Our fear is so great that we progress towards awakening through instants of forgiveness; but these are quickly followed by fear of what total forgiveness means for us. So the gentleness of forgiveness is expressed through patiently accepting where we are, and not being hard on ourselves when we find ourselves right back in the thick of the ego’s insanity.

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 31

ACIM Text Reading for May 31

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

VII. The Call for Faith
The substitutes for aspects of the situation are the witnesses to your lack of faith. They demonstrate that you did not believe the situation and the problem were in the same place. The problem was the lack of faith, and it is this you demonstrate when you remove it from its source and place it elsewhere. As a result, you do not see the problem. Had you not lacked faith that it could be solved, the problem would be gone. And the situation would have been meaningful to you, because the interference in the way of understanding would have been removed. To remove the problem elsewhere is to keep it, for you remove yourself from it and make it unsolvable.

There is no problem in any situation that faith will not solve. There is no shift in any aspect of the problem but will make solution impossible. For if you shift part of the problem elsewhere the meaning of the problem must be lost, and the solution to the problem is inherent in its meaning. Is it not possible that all your problems have been solved, but you have removed yourself from the solution? Yet faith must be where something has been done, and where you see it done.

A situation is a relationship, being the joining of thoughts. If problems are perceived, it is because the thoughts are judged to be in conflict. But if the goal is truth, this is impossible. Some idea of bodies must have entered, for minds cannot attack. The thought of bodies is the sign of faithlessness, for bodies cannot solve anything. It is their intrusion on the relationship, an error in your thoughts about the situation, which then becomes the justification for your lack of faith. You will make this error, but be not at all concerned with that. The error does not matter. Faithlessness brought to faith will never interfere with truth. But faithlessness used against truth will always destroy faith. If you lack faith, ask that it be restored where it was lost, and seek not to have it made up to you elsewhere, as if you had been unjustly deprived of it.

Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation. But remember this; the goal of holiness was set for your relationship, and not by you. You did not set it because holiness cannot be seen except through faith, and your relationship was not holy because your faith in your brother was so limited and little. Your faith must grow to meet the goal that has been set. The goal’s reality will call this forth, for you will see that peace and faith will not come separately. What situation can you be in without faith, and remain faithful to your brother?

Every situation in which you find yourself is but a means to meet the purpose set for your relationship. See it as something else and you are faithless. Use not your faithlessness. Let it enter and look upon it calmly, but do not use it. Faithlessness is the servant of illusion, and wholly faithful to its master. Use it, and it will carry you straight to illusions. Be tempted not by what it offers you. It interferes, not with the goal, but with the value of the goal to you. Accept not the illusion of peace it offers, but look upon its offering and recognize it is illusion.

The goal of illusion is as closely tied to faithlessness as faith to truth. If you lack faith in anyone to fulfill, and perfectly, his part in any situation dedicated in advance to truth, your dedication is divided. And so you have been faithless to your brother, and used your faithlessness against him. No relationship is holy unless its holiness goes with it everywhere. As holiness and faith go hand in hand, so must its faith go everywhere with it. The goal’s reality will call forth and accomplish every miracle needed for its fulfillment. Nothing too small or too enormous, too weak or too compelling, but will be gently turned to its use and purpose. The universe will serve it gladly, as it serves the universe. But do not interfere.

The power set in you in whom the Holy Spirit’s goal has been established is so far beyond your little conception of the infinite that you have no idea how great the strength that goes with you. And you can use this in perfect safety. Yet for all its might, so great it reaches past the stars and to the universe that lies beyond them, your little faithlessness can make it useless, if you would use the faithlessness instead.

Yet think on this, and learn the cause of faithlessness: You think you hold against your brother what he has done to you. But what you really blame him for is what you did to him. It is not his past but yours you hold against him. And you lack faith in him because of what you were. Yet you are as innocent of what you were as he is. What never was is causeless, and is not there to interfere with truth. There is no cause for faithlessness, but there is Cause for faith. That Cause has entered any situation that shares Its purpose. The light of truth shines from the center of the situation, and touches everyone to whom the situation’s purpose calls. It calls to everyone. There is no situation that does not involve your whole relationship, in every aspect and complete in every part. You can leave nothing of yourself outside it and keep the situation holy. For it shares the purpose of your whole relationship, and derives its meaning from it.

Enter each situation with the faith you give your brother, or you are faithless to your own relationship. Your faith will call the others to share your purpose, as the same purpose called forth the faith in you. And you will see the means you once employed to lead you to illusions transformed to means for truth. . When the Holy Spirit changed the purpose of your relationship by exchanging yours for His, the goal He placed there was extended to every situation in which you enter, or will ever enter. And every situation was thus made free of the past, which would have made it purposeless.

You call for faith because of Him Who walks with you in every situation. You are no longer wholly insane, nor no longer alone. For loneliness in God must be a dream. You whose relationship shares the Holy Spirit’s goal are set apart from loneliness because the truth has come. Its call for faith is strong. Use not your faithlessness against it, for it calls you to salvation and to peace.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 31

Lesson 150
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(139) I will accept Atonement for myself.
(140) Only salvation can be said to cure.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #834: The idea presented in A Course in Miracles that “Only what you have not been giving can be lacking in any situation” (T.17.VII.4:1) is something that I am very resistant to. I feel that I am not getting the proper respect I deserve from certain people. Is the Course saying that at some level I am not giving them proper respect? I feel that I am! I feel that I have been overly respectful in content and form and some people are still disrespectful back. Can you explain the meaning of this phrase?

A: The passage you quote is understood in the light of one of the Course’s fundamental principles of salvation: “…giving and receiving are the same”(T.26.I.3:6). This rests on the fact that all minds are joined (T15.XI.7:1), and therefore everyone is included in the individual mind’s choice to receive, and thereby give, the ego’s message or the Holy Spirit’s. These are the only two thoughts the mind can choose between. Only one of them can be held/received at one time, and only what the mind holds can be given. Allied with the ego and driven by the emptiness it fosters, we will not give or receive true respect in any relationship, because the love that the Holy Spirit brings will be lacking, no matter how seemingly respectful the behavior may appear to be.

Choosing to listen to the ego’s tale of separation means denying one’s true Identity, and is an attack on the Sonship. The result is a profound feeling of lack. Special relationships with people and things are then sought to fill the void left by separation. A multitude of specialness needs are brought to these relationships: e.g., the need for respect, acceptance, recognition. Relating to others in order to have individual needs met is truly a lack of respect, even when the behavior is courteous and seemingly “respectful,” because its origin is the attack thought in the mind. The respect that is not being given is thus lacking, as the line you quote indicates.

The mind receives the respect it deserves when it chooses the Holy Spirit. In the moment that His Love is received it is given to the entire Sonship, just as the separation attack included everyone. Only then will there be no need to seek respect or anything else from others, for nothing will be lacking. In fact, any show of disrespect will be perceived as a call for love (T.14.X.7). If someone’s behavior evokes any other response or reaction, it means the mind has decided to put out receivers for the ego’s message. The only thing that will correct the judgments and feelings that follow this decision is to decide differently. That is accomplished through forgiveness, which begins with acknowledging that the feeling of being treated unfairly/disrespectfully comes from a choice in the mind, not someone else’s behavior. The ego’s message was received and given because it was chosen. The Holy Spirit’s Love is therefore lacking. The true respect we owe ourselves and everyone is to recognize that the source of one’s feeling deprived of respect, and the other’s attack of disprespect, is the mind of each, and then to see in both a call for help. As Jesus tells us in the text: “I have emphasized that the miracle [forgiveness], or the expression of Atonement, is always a sign of respect from the worthy to the worthy” (T.2.VI.8:1). Choosing respect in this way guarantees that what is received is given, and nothing will be lacking in any part of the Sonship. Awareness of this fullness may be blocked, but it nevertheless remains true.

That is not to say that someone could not be kindly asked to discontinue some form of discourteous or disrespectful behavior. If guided by the Holy Spirit there would be no attack in the request, no judgment, and, most importantly, no expectation that the behavior change. The important thing to remember is that the respect we all seek is found in our minds, where we choose it by choosing the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. In the instant of choosing it, it is given to ourselves and everyone: Its [forgiveness’] offering is universal, and it teaches but one message: What is God’s belongs to everyone, and is his due” (T.25.IX.10:9,10).

certain as god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 30

ACIM Text Reading for Saturday, May 30, 2015

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness & The Holy Relationship

V. The Healed Relationship

The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world. Like everything about salvation, the holy instant is a practical device, witnessed to by its results. The holy instant never fails. The experience of it is always felt. Yet without expression it is not remembered. The holy relationship is a constant reminder of the experience in which the relationship became what it is. And as the unholy relationship is a continuing hymn of hate in praise of its maker, so is the holy relationship a happy song of praise to the Redeemer of relationships.

The holy relationship, a major step toward the perception of the real world, is learned. It is the old, unholy relationship, transformed and seen anew. The holy relationship is a phenomenal teaching accomplishment. In all its aspects, as it begins, develops and becomes accomplished, it represents the reversal of the unholy relationship. Be comforted in this; the only difficult phase is the beginning. For here, the goal of the relationship is abruptly shifted to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit, to use for His purposes.

This invitation is accepted immediately, and the Holy Spirit wastes no time in introducing the practical results of asking Him to enter. At once His goal replaces yours. This is accomplished very rapidly, but it makes the relationship seem disturbed, disjunctive and even quite distressing. The reason is quite clear. For the relationship as it is, is out of line with its own goal, and clearly unsuited to the purpose that has been accepted for it. In its unholy condition, your goal was all that seemed to give it meaning. Now it seems to make no sense. Many relationships have been broken off at this point, and the pursuit of the old goal re-established in another relationship. For once the unholy relationship has accepted the goal of holiness, it can never again be what it was.

The temptation of the ego becomes extremely intense with this shift in goals. For the relationship has not as yet been changed sufficiently to make its former goal completely without attraction, and its structure is ‘threatened’ by the recognition of its inappropriateness for meeting its new purpose. The conflict between the goal and the structure of the relationship is so apparent that they cannot coexist. Yet now the goal will not be changed. Set firmly in the unholy relationship, there is no course except to change the relationship to fit the goal. Until this happy solution is seen and accepted as the only way out of the conflict, the relationship may seem to be severely strained.

It would not be kinder to shift the goal more slowly, for the contrast would be obscured, and the ego given time to reinterpret each slow step according to its liking. Only a radical shift in purpose could induce a complete change of mind about what the whole relationship is for. As this change develops and is finally accomplished, it grows increasingly beneficent and joyous. But at the beginning, the situation is experienced as very precarious. A relationship, undertaken by two individuals for their unholy purposes, suddenly has holiness for its goal. As these two contemplate their relationship from the point of view of this new purpose, they are inevitably appalled. Their perception of the relationship may even become quite disorganised. And yet, the former organisation of their perception no longer serves the purpose they have agreed to meet.

This is the time for faith. You let this goal be set for you. That was an act of faith. Do not abandon faith, now that the rewards of faith are being introduced. If you believed the Holy Spirit was there to accept the relationship, why would you now not still believe that He is there to purify what He has taken under His guidance? Have faith in your brother in what but seems to be a trying time. The goal is set. And your relationship has sanity as its purpose. For now you find yourself in an insane relationship, recognised as such in the light of its goal.

Now the ego counsels thus; substitute for this another relationship to which your former goal was quite appropriate. You can escape from your distress only by getting rid of your brother. You need not part entirely if you choose not to do so. But you must exclude major areas of fantasy from your brother, to save your sanity. Hear not this now! Have faith in Him Who answered you. He heard. Has He not been very explicit in His answer? You are not now wholly insane. Can you deny that He has given you a most explicit statement? Now He asks for faith a little longer, even in bewilderment. For this will go, and you will see the justification for your faith emerge, to bring you shining conviction. Abandon Him not now, nor your brother. This relationship has been reborn as holy.

Accept with gladness what you do not understand, and let it be explained to you as you perceive its purpose work in it to make it holy. You will find many opportunities to blame your brother for the ‘failure’ of your relationship, for it will seem at times to have no purpose. A sense of aimlessness will come to haunt you, and to remind you of all the ways you once sought for satisfaction and thought you found it. Forget not now the misery you really found, and do not breathe life into your failing ego. For your relationship has not been disrupted. It has been saved.

You are very new in the ways of salvation, and think you have lost your way. Your way is lost, but think not this is loss. In your newness, remember that you and your brother have started again, together. And take his hand, to walk together along a road far more familiar than you now believe. Is it not certain that you will remember a goal unchanged throughout eternity? For you have chosen but the goal of God, from which your true intent was never absent.

Throughout the Sonship is the song of freedom heard, in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship. Join in His blessing, and withhold not yours upon it. For all it needs now is your blessing, that you may see that in it rests salvation. Condemn salvation not, for it has come to you. And welcome it together, for it has come to join you and your brother together in a relationship in which all the Sonship is together blessed.

You undertook, together, to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise. Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work. And He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him. Nor does He see the mistakes at all. Have you been similarly grateful to your brother? Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts, and overlooked mistakes? Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes? Perhaps you are now entering upon a campaign to blame him for the discomfort of the situation in which you find yourself. And by this lack of thanks and gratitude you make yourself unable to express the holy instant, and thus lose sight of it.

The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time, but not concealed within it. The instant remains: But where are you? To give thanks to your brother is to appreciate the holy instant, and thus enable its results to be accepted and shared. To attack your brother is not to lose the instant, but to make it powerless in its effects.

You have received the holy instant, but you may have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realise that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack your brother, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself, and to recognise what has been given and received by you.

You and your brother stand together in the holy presence of truth itself. Here is the goal, together with you. Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? It is just this same discrepancy between the purpose that has been accepted and the means as they stand now which seems to make you suffer, but which makes Heaven glad. If Heaven, were outside you, you could not share in its gladness. Yet because it is within, the gladness, too, is yours. You are joined in purpose, but remain still separate and divided on the means. Yet the goal is fixed, firm and unalterable, and the means will surely fall in place because the goal is sure. And you will share the gladness of the Sonship that it is so.

As you begin to recognise and accept the gifts you have so freely given to your brother, you will also accept the effects of the holy instant and use them to correct all your mistakes and free you from their results. And learning this, you will have also learned how to release all the Sonship, and offer it in gladness and thanksgiving to Him Who gave you your release, and Who would extend it through you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 30

Lesson 150

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(139) I will accept Atonement for myself.
(140) Only salvation can be said to cure.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1321: What does Jesus mean when he says in A Course in Miracles that we “have made very real relationships even in this world” (T.17.IV.3:1)? He goes on to say that we do not recognize them. What “real relationships” is he referring to?

A: The “very real relationships” are holy relationships: instances in which you forgave someone or did not judge; instances in which you did not see your interests as separate from another’s. It could have been an interaction with a waiter in a restaurant who was having a bad day, but you did not judge him; or perhaps a child ran into you in the supermarket, but you did not get angry; or you may have had only compassion for someone who was unkind. You may not even have realized at the time that you transcended your ego; and in that sense you did not recognize these “real relationships.” In the manual, Jesus discusses this idea in the context of levels of teaching or teaching-learning situations (M.3).

IMG_2483

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 29

ACIM Text Reading for May 29

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness And The Holy Relationship

IV. The Two Pictures

God established His relationship with you to make you happy, and nothing you do that does not share His purpose can be real. The purpose God ascribed to anything is its only function. Because of His reason for creating His relationship with you, the function of relationships became forever ‘to make happy’. And nothing else. To fulfil this function you relate to your creations as God to His. For nothing God created is apart from happiness, and nothing God created but would extend happiness as its Creator did. Whatever does not fulfil this function cannot be real.

In this world it is impossible to create. Yet it is possible to make happy. I have said repeatedly that 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.

You have made very real relationships even in this world. Yet you do not recognise them because you have raised their substitutes to such predominance that, when truth calls to you, as it does constantly, you answer with a substitute. Every special relationship you have made has, as its fundamental purpose, the aim of occupying your mind so completely that you will not hear the call of truth.

In a sense, the special relationship was the ego’s answer to the creation of the Holy Spirit, who was God’s Answer to the separation. For although the ego did not understand what had been created, it was aware of threat. The whole defence system the ego evolved to protect the separation from the Holy Spirit was in response to the gift with which God blessed it, and by His blessing enabled it to be healed. This blessing holds within itself the truth about everything. And the truth is that the Holy Spirit is in close relationship with you, because in Him is your relationship with God restored to you. The relationship with Him has never been broken, because the Holy Spirit has not been separate from anyone since the separation. And through Him have all your holy relationships been carefully preserved, to serve God’s purpose for you.

The ego is always alert to threat, and the part of your mind into which the ego was accepted is very anxious to preserve its reason, as it sees it. It does not realise that it is totally insane. And you must realise just what this means if you would be restored to sanity. The insane protect their thought systems, but they do so insanely. And all their defences are as insane as what they are supposed to protect. The separation has nothing in it, no part, no ‘reason’, and no attribute that is not insane. And its ‘protection’ is part of it, as insane as the whole. The special relationship, which is its chief defence, must therefore be insane.

You have but little difficulty now in realising that the thought system the special relationship protects is but a system of delusions. You recognise, at least in general terms, that the ego is insane. Yet the special relationship still seems to you somehow to be ‘different’. Yet we have looked at it far closer than we have at many other aspects of the ego’s thought system that you have been more willing to let go. While this one remains, you will not let the others go. For this one is not different. Retain this one, and you have retained the whole.

It is essential to realise that all defences do what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend. What they defend is placed in them for safe-keeping, and as they operate they bring it to you. Every defence operates by giving gifts, and the gift is always a miniature of the thought system the defence protects, set in a golden frame. The frame is very elaborate, all set with jewels, and deeply carved and polished. Its purpose is to be of value in itself, and to divert your attention from what it encloses. But the frame without the picture you cannot have. Defences operate to make you think you can.

The special relationship has the most imposing and deceptive frame of all the defences the ego uses. Its thought system is offered here, surrounded by a frame so heavy and so elaborate that the picture is almost obliterated by its imposing structure. Into the frame are woven all sorts of fanciful and fragmented illusions of love, set with dreams of sacrifice and self-aggrandisement, and interlaced with gilded threads of self-destruction. The glitter of blood shines like rubies, and the tears are faceted like diamonds and gleam in the dim light in which the offering is made.

Look at the picture. Do not let the frame distract you. This gift is given you for your damnation, and if you take it you will believe that you are damned. You cannot have the frame without the picture. What you value is the frame, for there you see no conflict. Yet the frame is only the wrapping for the gift of conflict. The frame is not the gift. Be not deceived by the most superficial aspects of this thought system, for these aspects enclose the whole, complete in every aspect. Death lies in this glittering gift. Let not your gaze dwell on the hypnotic gleaming of the frame. Look at the picture, and realise that death is offered you.

That is why the holy instant is so important in the defence of truth. The truth itself needs no defence, but you do need defence against your acceptance of the gift of death. When you who are truth accept an idea so dangerous to truth, you threaten truth with destruction. And your defence must now be undertaken, to keep truth whole. The power of Heaven, the Love of God, the tears of Christ, and the joy of His eternal Spirit are marshalled to defend you from your own attack. For you attack Them, being part of Them, and They must save you, for They love Themselves.

The holy instant is a miniature of Heaven, sent you from Heaven. It is a picture, too, set in a frame. Yet if you accept this gift you will not see the frame at all, because the gift can only be accepted through your willingness to focus all your attention on the picture. The holy instant is a miniature of eternity. It is a picture of timelessness, set in a frame of time. If you focus on the picture, you will realise that it was only the frame that made you think it was a picture. Without the frame, the picture is seen as what it represents. For as the whole thought system of the ego lies in its gifts, so the whole of Heaven lies in this instant, borrowed from eternity and set in time for you.

Two gifts are offered you. Each is complete, and cannot be partially accepted. Each is a picture of all that you can have, seen very differently. You cannot compare their value by comparing a picture to a frame. It must be the pictures only that you compare, or the comparison is wholly without meaning. Remember that it is the picture that is the gift. And only on this basis are you really free to choose. Look at the pictures. Both of them. One is a tiny picture, hard to see at all beneath the heavy shadows of its enormous and disproportionate enclosure. The other is lightly framed and hung in light, lovely to look upon for what it is.

You who have tried so hard, and are still trying, to fit the better picture into the wrong frame and so combine what cannot be combined, accept this and be glad: These pictures are each framed perfectly, for what they represent. One is framed to be out of focus and not seen. The other is framed for perfect clarity. The picture of darkness and of death grows less convincing as you search it out amid its wrappings. As each senseless stone that seems to shine from the frame in darkness is exposed to light, it becomes dull and lifeless, and ceases to distract you from the picture. And finally you look upon the picture itself, seeing at last that, unprotected by the frame, it has no meaning.

The other picture is lightly framed, for time cannot contain eternity. There is no distraction here. The picture of Heaven and eternity grows more convincing as you look at it. And now, by real comparison, a transformation of both pictures can at last occur. And each is given its rightful place when both are seen in relation to each other. The dark picture, brought to light, is not perceived as fearful, but the fact that it is just a picture is brought home at last. And what you see there you will recognise as what it is; a picture of what you thought was real, and nothing more. For beyond this picture you will see nothing.

The picture of light, in clear-cut and unmistakable contrast, is transformed into what lies beyond the picture. As you look on this, you realise that it is not a picture, but a reality. This is no figured representation of a thought system, but the Thought itself. What it represents is there. The frame fades gently and God rises to your remembrance, offering you the whole of creation in exchange for your little picture, wholly without value and entirely deprived of meaning.

As God ascends into His rightful place and you to yours, you will experience again the meaning of relationship and know it to be true. Let us ascend in peace together to the Father, by giving Him ascendance in our minds. We will gain everything by giving Him the power and the glory, and keeping no illusions of where they are. They are in us, through His ascendance. What He has given is His. It shines in every part of Him, as in the whole. The whole reality of your relationship with Him lies in our relationship to one another. The holy instant shines alike on all relationships, for in it they are one. For here is only healing, already complete and perfect. For here is God, and where He is only the perfect and complete can be.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 29

Lesson 150
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(139) I will accept Atonement for myself.
(140) Only salvation can be said to cure.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #483: In The Most Commonly Asked Questions About A Course in Miracles you said that it would be an expression of specialness if we thought ourselves superior to be a student of a “sophisticated book that comes from Jesus himself.” But I feel very proud and good about myself that I have been working through such a difficult thought system; I feel very brave. What do you think?

A: That’s fine, as long as you do not think you are better than others who accept a different spirituality, or none. “Comparison must be an ego device, for love makes none. Specialness always makes comparisons” (T.24.II.1:1,2). It is quite contradictory to the whole message of the Course — the Son of God is one — to judge oneself superior to another for any reason whatsoever. Then, too, it is rather humbling when you realize that Jesus is saying in a number of different ways throughout the Course that we are here (or at least we think we are here in this world) because we attacked Love and banished it from our minds, and then we made up our own version of love as a substitute. He addresses us as little children, and even babies at times, in essence telling us that we are just beginning to take our first steps on the path of salvation. That is humbling indeed — nothing to brag about. But we can indeed be grateful that we have accepted a loving teacher who gently and patiently teaches us how to recognize our mistakes and then choose again: “If you want to be like me I will help you, knowing that we are alike. If you want to be different, I will wait until you change your mind. I can teach you, but only you can choose to listen to my teaching (T.8.IV.6:3,4,5).

2560x1440