A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 8

ACIM Text Reading for July 8

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

A. The First Obstacle: The Desire to Get Rid of It

The first obstacle that peace must flow across is your desire to get rid of it. For it cannot extend unless you keep it. You are the centre from which it radiates outward, to call the others in. You are its home; its tranquil dwelling place from which it gently reaches out, but never leaving you. If you would make it homeless, how can it abide within the Son of God? If it would spread across the whole creation, it must begin with you, and from you reach to everyone who calls, and bring him rest by joining you.

Why would you want peace homeless? What do you think that it must dispossess to dwell with you? What seems to be the cost you are so unwilling to pay? The little barrier of sand still stands between you and your brother. Would you reinforce it now? You are not asked to let it go for yourself alone. Christ asks it of you for Himself. He would bring peace to everyone, and how can He do this except through you? Would you let a little bank of sand, a wall of dust, a tiny seeming barrier, stand between your brothers and salvation? And yet, this little remnant of attack you cherish still against your brother is the first obstacle the peace in you encounters in its going forth. This little wall of hatred would still oppose the Will of God, and keep it limited.

The Holy Spirit’s purpose rests in peace within you. Yet you are still unwilling to let it join you wholly. You still oppose the Will of God, just by a little. And that little is a limit you would place upon the whole. God’s Will is one, not many. It has no opposition, for there is none beside it. What you would still contain behind your little barrier and keep separate from your brother seems mightier than the universe, for it would hold back the universe and its Creator. This little wall would hide the purpose of Heaven, and keep it from Heaven.

Would you thrust salvation away from the giver of salvation? For such have you become. Peace could no more depart from you than from God. Fear not this little obstacle. It cannot contain the Will of God. Peace will flow across it, and join you without hindrance. Salvation cannot be withheld from you. It is your purpose. You cannot choose apart from this. You have no purpose apart from your brother, nor apart from the one you asked the Holy Spirit to share with you. The little wall will fall away so quietly beneath the wings of peace. For peace will send its messengers from you to all the world, and barriers will fall away before their coming as easily as those that you interpose will be surmounted.

To overcome the world is no more difficult than to surmount your little wall. For in the miracle of your holy relationship, without this barrier, is every miracle contained. There is no order of difficulty in miracles, for they are all the same. Each is a gentle winning over from the appeal of guilt to the appeal of love. How can this fail to be accomplished, wherever it is undertaken? Guilt can raise no real barriers against it. And all that seems to stand between you and your brother must fall away because of the appeal you answered. From you who answered, He Who answered you would call. His home is in your holy relationship. Do not attempt to stand between Him and His holy purpose, for it is yours. But let Him quietly extend the miracle of your relationship to everyone contained in it as it was given.

There is a hush in Heaven, a happy expectancy, a little pause of gladness in acknowledgement of the journey’s end. For Heaven knows you well, as you know Heaven. No illusions stand between you and your brother now. Look not upon the little wall of shadows. The sun has risen over it. How can a shadow keep you from the sun? No more can you be kept by shadows from the light in which illusions end. Every miracle is but the end of an illusion. Such was the journey; such its ending. And in the goal of truth which you accepted must all illusions end.

The little insane wish to get rid of Him Whom you invited in and push Him out must produce conflict. As you look upon the world, this little wish, uprooted and floating aimlessly, can land and settle briefly upon anything, for it has no purpose now. Before the Holy Spirit entered to abide with you it seemed to have a mighty purpose; the fixed and unchangeable dedication to sin and its results. Now it is aimless, wandering pointlessly, causing no more than tiny interruptions in love’s appeal.

This feather of a wish, this tiny illusion, this microscopic remnant of the belief in sin, is all that remains of what once seemed to be the world. It is no longer an unrelenting barrier to peace. Its pointless wandering makes its results appear to be more erratic and unpredictable than before. Yet what could be more unstable than a tightly organised delusional system? Its seeming stability is its pervasive weakness, which extends to everything. The variability the little remnant induces merely indicates its limited results.

How mighty can a little feather be before the great wings of truth? Can it oppose an eagle’s flight, or hinder the advance of summer? Can it interfere with the effects of summer’s sun upon a garden covered by the snow? See but how easily this little wisp is lifted up and carried away, never to return, and part with it in gladness, not regret. For it is nothing in itself, and stood for nothing when you had greater faith in its protection. Would you not rather greet the summer sun than fix your gaze upon a disappearing snowflake, and shiver in remembrance of the winter’s cold?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 8

Lesson 172

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(153) In my defenselessness my safety lies.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(154) I am among the ministers of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

 

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #306: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for about 14 years now and lately I keep thinking about dying. It comes to my mind all the time. It’s not particularly scary; but why all this preoccupation with death?

A: It is not unusual to have thoughts of death become more frequent as you diligently work with Jesus in undoing your ego. The part of you that is identified with the ego — and has been for ages — will experience itself as “dying.” Actually, all that is happening is that you are withdrawing your belief in the ego thought system. “As you approach the Beginning, you feel the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death” (T.3.VII.5:9,10). A major part of the process involves shifting your sense of who you truly are, so it would be evident that the “you” that is withdrawing the belief and has chosen Jesus as its teacher is not what is “dying.” That decision-making part of your mind is simply choosing to identify no longer with a false identity, but with the reflection of its true Self represented in your right mind by the Atonement principle.

The preoccupation with death should diminish and finally disappear when there is no more fear of letting go of your identity as an individual. Without knowing more about you, though, we do not know whether this is the only source of the thoughts. In general, we would recommend consulting with a professional if these death thoughts persist for an extended period of time.


Q #307: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for over a year now. For the last few months, I have been having this strange and wonderful feeling — my body starts physically vibrating during my morning and night meditations. I feel like something inside me is about to take off, like an airplane, a kind of inner weightlessness. After my meditation, I feel great and full of energy. But sometime this feeling that I am experiencing makes me think and think again. I wonder if other students are or have experienced the same thing I am. I also wonder if it is okay to feel that way.

A: Although a variety of explanations could be offered to account for your experience with your body, all you need to know is that our own minds translate any experience of abstract love, such as we may experience in meditation, into a form that we can accept, since our ego-identified minds fear the abstract. At times the form may be, as you are experiencing, sensations in your body that you find pleasant, even pleasurable. What will be most helpful to remember as you have such experiences is that you want to be willing to let go of any judgments you may have about them as either good or not good. Or any thoughts to make a big deal out of them. If you enjoy the experience, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. You just don’t want to make an altar to the experience and then seek after that, for, as wonderful as it may seem, it still falls far short of what Jesus is holding out to us in his Course. For it is still only a specific symbol, a temporary form, through which you are allowing yourself to feel his healing comfort and unlimited love.

For a related discussion, see Question #181.

teach not that i died in vain

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 21

ACIM Text Reading for June 21

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

VIII. The Attraction of Pain

Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole idea of sacrifice. And to accept the peace He gives instead, without the limits that would hold its extension back, and so would limit your awareness of it. For what He gives must be extended if you would have its limitless power, and use it for the Son of God’s release. It is not this you would be rid of, and having it you cannot limit it. If peace is homeless, so are you and so am I. And He Who is our home is homeless with us. Is this your wish? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what must fail?

Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly, and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither joy nor pain. It is a means, and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind, to be attained. And these conditions are the home of the emotion that calls them forth, and therefore is compatible with them.

But think you which it is that is compatible with you. Here is your choice, and it is free. But all that lies in it will come with it, and what you think you are can never be apart from it. The body is the great seeming betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness, but only if you ask of it what it cannot give. Can your mistake be reasonable grounds for depression and disillusionment, and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your error as the justification for your faithlessness. You have not sinned, but you have been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of your mistake will give you grounds for faith.

It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.

Is not this inevitable? Under fear’s orders the body will pursue guilt, serving its master whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of its existence. This, then, is the attraction of pain. Ruled by this perception the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully and obeying the idea that pain is pleasure. It is this idea that underlies all of the ego’s heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship that it keeps hidden, and yet feeds upon. To you it teaches that the body’s pleasure is happiness. Yet to itself it whispers, “It is death.”

Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognize this, and both also recognize that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himself? Who would accuse, make guilty and condemn himself?

The ego’s messages are always sent away from you, in the belief that for your message of attack and guilt will someone other than yourself suffer. And even if you suffer, yet someone else will suffer more. The great deceiver recognizes that this is not so, but as the “enemy” of peace, it urges you to send out all your messages of hate and free yourself. And to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure and offering it to you as freedom from attack.

Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin, and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body’s praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego’s rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.

It is not given to the ego’s disciples to realize that they have dedicated themselves to death. Freedom is offered them but they have not accepted it, and what is offered must also be received, to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father and offering His messages unto the Son. Like the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and the receiver. For what is sent through Him returns to Him, seeking itself along the way, and finding what it seeks. So does the ego find the death it seeks, returning it to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 21

Lesson 172

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(153) In my defenselessness my safety lies.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(154) I am among the ministers of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #56: If on one level, as the Course suggests, we are responsible for our lives and our choices and deeds, why would I choose to be such a fool? Why wouldn’t all of us or most of us choose to enter this world as children of loving, spiritual, intelligent, wealthy and genetically sound parents?

A: Yes, if it’s really my choice, why indeed would I set things up so miserably for myself? The answer lies in understanding that my secret goal, kept hidden even from myself, is to be the victim of others in all of my relationships so that I never get in touch with the real cause of my misery. We think the world, beginning with our parents and continuing with all our subsequent relationships, is the cause of our pain and unhappiness. But it is not. The world and all of our relationships are only a clever, self-manufactured diversion to keep the real source of our unhappiness — our all-consuming desire that the separation be real, at any cost — hidden from ourselves. But why would we want to keep the real source hidden? The reason is that we value our individual, separate self more than all the love and happiness in the universe, and we’d even be willing to kill for it. But we’d rather not admit to that. Because if we did, then we might be more willing to let go of our identification with the ego and the special individual self that we each think we are. For what could our experience be but pain and unhappiness and lovelessness if we could in reality separate ourselves from Love?

We make up an external world, starting with our parents, out of all the guilt, pain, attack and murder that we have imagined in our mind — thoughts that seem very real and frightening to us once we seek to make the separation real. As the Course describes it, “The world you perceive is a world of separation. Perhaps you are willing to accept even death to deny your Father…it is governed by the desire to be unlike God…The world you made is therefore totally chaotic, governed by arbitrary and senseless ‘laws,’ and without meaning of any kind. For it is made out of what you do not want, projected from your mind because you are afraid of it” (T.12.III.9:1,2,5,6,7)

The world then is the effect and not the cause of how we feel, no matter how much we may have convinced ourselves otherwise. And so it follows, “If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically” (W.pI.23.2).

And so even if we could make the world and all of our relationships in any way we want, the building blocks are still the contents of the ego mind, and the goal remains the same — to see myself as a victim, with anyone but myself responsible for all my problems and how I feel. And that is what determines our experience in the world, regardless of the form the world may take, so long as the ego thought system remains our choice. As a result, even if I set it up to be the child of “loving, intelligent, wealthy and genetically sound parents”, I will still not be happy. And I will still find some reason to blame others, starting with my parents, for my unhappiness, until I’m ready to ask for another way. And that other way will involve looking within my own mind to uncover the blocks that I have placed there to the awareness of love’s presence, so that they can be removed (T.in.1:7). And the happiness I will then experience will have nothing to do with anything in the external world, including my parents.

awake & remember

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 22

ACIM Text Reading for June 22

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

XI. The Fourth Obstacle: The Fear of God

What would you see without the fear of death? What would you feel and think if death held no attraction for you? Very simply, you would remember your Father. The Creator of life, the Source of everything that lives, the Father of the universe and of the universe of universes, and of everything that lies even beyond them would you remember. And as this memory rises in your mind, peace must still surmount a final obstacle, after which is salvation completed, and the Son of God entirely restored to sanity. For here your world does end.

The fourth obstacle to be surmounted hangs like a heavy veil before the face of Christ. Yet as His face rises beyond it, shining with joy because He is in His Father’s Love, peace will lightly brush the veil aside and run to meet Him, and to join with Him at last. For this dark veil, which seems to make the face of Christ Himself like to a leper’s, and the bright Rays of His Father’s Love that light His face with glory appear as streams of blood, fades in the blazing light beyond it when the fear of death is gone.

This is the darkest veil, upheld by the belief in death and protected by its attraction. The dedication to death and to its sovereignty is but the solemn vow, the promise made in secret to the ego never to lift this veil, not to approach it, nor even to suspect that it is there. This is the secret bargain made with the ego to keep what lies beyond the veil forever blotted out and unremembered. Here is your promise never to allow union to call you out of separation; the great amnesia in which the memory of God seems quite forgotten; the cleavage of your Self from you;–the fear of God, the final step in your dissociation.

See how the belief in death would seem to “save” you. For if this were gone, what could you fear but life? It is the attraction of death that makes life seem to be ugly, cruel and tyrannical. You are no more afraid of death than of the ego. These are your chosen friends. For in your secret alliance with them you have agreed never to let the fear of God be lifted, so you could look upon the face of Christ and join Him in His Father.

Every obstacle that peace must flow across is surmounted in just the same way; the fear that raised it yields to the love beyond, and so the fear is gone. And so it is with this. The desire to get rid of peace and drive the Holy Spirit from you fades in the presence of the quiet recognition that you love Him. The exaltation of the body is given up in favor of the spirit, which you love as you could never love the body. And the appeal of death is lost forever as love’s attraction stirs and calls to you. From beyond each of the obstacles to love, Love Itself has called. And each has been surmounted by the power of the attraction of what lies beyond. Your wanting fear seemed to be holding them in place. Yet when you heard the Voice of Love beyond them, you answered and they disappeared.

And now you stand in terror before what you swore never to look upon. Your eyes look down, remembering your promise to your “friends.” The “loveliness” of sin, the delicate appeal of guilt, the “holy” waxen image of death, and the fear of vengeance of the ego you swore in blood not to desert, all rise and bid you not to raise your eyes. For you realize that if you look on this and let the veil be lifted, they will be gone forever. All of your “friends,” your “protectors” and your “home” will vanish. Nothing that you remember now will you remember.

It seems to you the world will utterly abandon you if you but raise your eyes. Yet all that will occur is you will leave the world forever. This is the re-establishment of your will. Look upon it, open-eyed, and you will nevermore believe that you are at the mercy of things beyond you, forces you cannot control, and thoughts that come to you against your will. It is your will to look on this. No mad desire, no trivial impulse to forget again, no stab of fear nor the cold sweat of seeming death can stand against your will. For what attracts you from beyond the veil is also deep within you, unseparated from it and completely one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 22

Lesson 172

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(153) In my defenselessness my safety lies.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(154) I am among the ministers of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #506: In T.19:D:1:4 of A Course in Miracles, Jesus refers to the Divine Abstraction as: “The Creator of life, the Source of everything that lives, the Father of the universe and of the universe of universes, and of everything that lies even beyond them….” I would appreciate your helping me to understand why this particular wording of “universe of universes” has been chosen, since the universe and everything that appears to ‘live’ is a fabrication of our minds.

A: Throughout the Course, Jesus uses symbols and the language of duality because that is what we understand. Since he knows how terrified we are of God and of our truth, his use of specific words is a loving and gentle way to lead us beyond our fear. He speaks to us of bodies, toys, houses, cities, money; all the things we believe are real and to which we cling. He uses words to describe the indescribable: Heaven, God, totality, oneness, timelessness. He speaks in poetic terms of experiences that are beyond words. While the form varies, the content is always a loving message.

The passage you quote is a poetic way of telling us that as Father of the universe of spirit, of Christ and His creations, God is everything. If we were ready to accept the truth of who God is and who we are, we would not need A Course in Miracles, or it would be sufficient to say: “Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say ‘God is,’ and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself” (W.pI.169.5:1,2,3,4,5).

Because we are fiercely attached to our belief in separation and our identity as bodies, we need the truth to be presented to us in a variety of ways, over and over, so we can grasp its meaning and find our way through the labyrinth of confusion our upside-down thinking has fabricated. That is why the basic principles of the Course are repeated in many different ways, and the message of God’s Love for us is expressed in poetic, inspiring words intended to help us past our fear.

Q #507: Am I correct in saying that every judgment, every instance of anger…every time we turn to the ego (the wrong mind), is a cry for pain and suffering and identically a cover against a cry for love, of going to the right mind?

A: Yes, anger, judgment, and choosing the wrong mind are all attacks; and yes, each one is a call for love. They are the effects of having chosen the separation, thereby identifying with the ego, which is the ultimate attack on the Son of God because it is a denial of our true Identity. What inevitably follows is a profound sense of loss and emptiness. What is lost is awareness of love’s presence. This loss is experienced in the feelings of deprivation, scarcity, need, and incompleteness that are at the root of every attack, whereby we seek to take from others what we think we lack. It is a desperate attempt to get back the love that was lost in the choice to separate. The choice is forgotten and denied, while the guilt for having made it is buried and projected out to everyone who is now perceived as having stolen the love and wholeness that are rightfully ours. Born of a deep sense of deprivation, attack is believed to be the only way to get what we need from everyone and everything outside of ourselves. In this search, whether it takes the form of special love or special hate, the ego seeks to fill the void left by the separation. Attack expresses the fear that what was lost will never again be found. It is therefore, an expression of fear.

By thus reinterpreting attack, A Course in Miracles teaches us a new way of perceiving it. It can now be seen as a way of “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the song goes. The attacker is desperately seeking the “lost love.” However, no matter how perverse an attack may seem to be, it has not obliterated the part of the mind that holds the memory of God’s Love. If we are willing to let go of the ego’s judgment and accept the Holy Spirit’s interpretation, we acknowledge the right mind of the attacker and allow the Holy Spirit to respond with love. Thus the wrong mind is not reinforced, the attack is not perpetuated, and the love that was sought is found in the right place: the part of the mind of the attacker that remembers love, whenever he or she is ready to accept it.

As Jesus tells us in the text: “This is what recognizing fear really means. If you do not protect it, He [the Holy Spirit] will reinterpret it. That is the ultimate value in learning to perceive attack as a call for love” (T.12.I.8:8,9,10).

teach not that i died in vain