ACIM Text Reading for March 7
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
V. The Undivided Will of the Sonship
Can you be separated from your identification and be at peace? Dissociation is not a solution; it is a delusion. The delusional believe that truth will assail them, and they do not recognise it because they prefer the delusion. Judging truth as something they do not want, they perceive their illusions which block knowledge. Help them by offering them your unified mind on their behalf, as I am offering you mine on behalf of yours. Alone we can do nothing, but together our minds fuse into something whose power is far beyond the power of its separate parts. By not being separate, the Mind of God is established in ours and as ours. This Mind is invincible because it is undivided.
The undivided will of the Sonship is the perfect creator, being wholly in the likeness of God, Whose Will it is. You cannot be exempt from it if you are to understand what it is and what you are. By the belief that your will is separate from mine, you are exempting yourself from the Will of God which is yourself. Yet to heal is still to make whole. Therefore, to heal is to unite with those who are like you, because perceiving this likeness is to recognise the Father. If your perfection is in Him and only in Him, how can you know it without recognising Him? The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself. There is no separation of God and His creation. You will realise this when you understand that there is no separation between your will and mine. Let the Love of God shine upon you by your acceptance of me. My reality is yours and His. By joining your mind with mine you are signifying your awareness that the Will of God is one.
God’s Oneness and ours are not separate, because His Oneness encompasses ours. To join with me is to restore His power to you because we are sharing it. I offer you only the recognition of His power in you, but in that lies all truth. As we unite, we unite with Him. Glory be to the union of God and His holy Sons! All glory lies in Them because They are united. The miracles we do bear witness to the Will of the Father for His Son, and to our joy in uniting with His Will for us.
When you unite with me you are uniting without the ego, because I have renounced the ego in myself and therefore cannot unite with yours. Our union is therefore the way to renounce the ego in you. The truth in both of us is beyond the ego. Our success in transcending the ego is guaranteed by God, and I share this confidence for both of us and all of us. I bring God’s peace back to all His children because I received it of Him for us all. Nothing can prevail against our united wills because nothing can prevail against God’s.
Would you know the Will of God for you? Ask it of me who knows it for you and you will find it. I will deny you nothing, as God denies me nothing. Ours is simply the journey back to God Who is our home. Whenever fear intrudes anywhere along the road to peace, it is because the ego has attempted to join the journey with us and cannot do so. Sensing defeat and angered by it, the ego regards itself as rejected and becomes retaliative. You are invulnerable to its retaliation because I am with you. On this journey you have chosen me as your companion instead of the ego. Do not attempt to hold on to both, or you will try to go in different directions, and will lose the way.
The ego’s way is not mine, but it is also not yours. The Holy Spirit has one direction for all minds, and the one He taught me is yours. Let us not lose sight of His direction through illusions, for only illusions of another direction can obscure the one for which God’s Voice speaks in all of us. Never accord the ego the power to interfere with the journey. It has none, because the journey is the way to what is true. Leave all illusions behind, and reach beyond all attempts of the ego to hold you back. I go before you because I am beyond the ego. Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego. My strength will never be wanting, and if you choose to share it you will do so. I give it willingly and gladly, because I need you as much as you need me.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 7
Love created me like itself.
1. Today’s idea is a complete and accurate statement of what you are. This is why you are the light of the world. This is why God appointed you as the world’s savior. This is why the Son of God looks to you for his salvation. He is saved by what you are. We will make every effort today to reach this truth about you, and to realize fully, if only for a moment, that it is the truth.
2. In the longer practice period, we will think about your reality and its wholly unchanged and unchangeable nature. We will begin by repeating this truth about you, and then spend a few minutes adding some relevant thoughts, such as:
Holiness created me holy.
Kindness created me kind.
Helpfulness created me helpful.
Perfection created me perfect.
Any attribute which is in accord with God as He defines Himself is appropriate for use. We are trying today to undo your definition of God and replace it with His Own. We are also trying to emphasize that you are part of His definition of Himself.
3. After you have gone over several such related thoughts, try to let all thoughts drop away for a brief preparatory interval, and then try to reach past all your images and preconceptions about yourself to the truth in you. If love created you like itself, this Self must be in you. And somewhere in your mind It is there for you to find.
4. You may find it necessary to repeat the idea for today from time to time to replace distracting thoughts. You may also find that this is not sufficient, and that you need to continue adding other thoughts related to the truth about yourself. Yet perhaps you will succeed in going past that, and through the interval of thoughtlessness to the awareness of a blazing light in which you recognize yourself as love created you. Be confident that you will do much today to bring that awareness nearer, whether you feel you have succeeded or not.
5. It will be particularly helpful today to practice the idea for the day as often as you can. You need to hear the truth about yourself as frequently as possible, because your mind is so preoccupied with false self-images. Four or five times an hour, and perhaps even more, it would be most beneficial to remind yourself that love created you like itself. Hear the truth about yourself in this.
6. Try to realize in the shorter practice periods that this is not your tiny, solitary voice that tells you this. This is the Voice for God, reminding you of your Father and of your Self. This is the Voice of truth, replacing everything that the ego tells you about yourself with the simple truth about the Son of God. You were created by love like itself.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) What happens when we die, and where do we go? Are the near-death experiences that many people report relevant to students of A Course in Miracles?
A) The “transition” to death can be likened to the following: 1) shifting from one sleeping dream to another; 2) completing the viewing of one video tape and beginning another; 3) changing channels from one television station to another at the completion of a program, or even before its completion if one so chooses; or finally 4) leaving one room and going into another, as was taught by the great 19th-century Indian sage Ramakrishna. Since consciousness is inherent in the split mind, and not found in the brain or body (although it is experienced there), physical death is but an illusion of an end to one’s mental state, which is retained at death. Despite this thought of separation being projected onto the body, it still remains within its source: the wrong mind. Therefore, one does not go anywhere at death. Returning to the analogy of changing television channels, one physically remains in the living room chair, even though one’s attention has shifted from the location seen on one television channel to another.
Moreover, it is important to realize that what we call death does not bring about a state of enlightenment or peace. If one does not complete the letting go of the ego’s thought system in its entirety, thereby letting go of the wrong mind, enlightenment or resurrection cannot be attainable. In fact, Jesus specifically cautions against such an escapist view of death:
What could you choose between but life or death, waking or sleeping, peace or war, your dreams or your reality? There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self which God created. Yet a thing can never be its opposite. And death is opposite to peace, because it is the opposite of life. And life is peace. Awaken [the meaning of resurrection] and forget all thoughts of death, and you will find you have the peace of God (T-27.VII.10:1-6; italics ours).
A recent variation of this belief that physical death brings freedom or release from the body is found in many people’s “near-death” experiences, and questions about these experiences often are raised during our classes and workshops. The reports usually include the person’s experience of leaving the body and proceeding through a dark tunnel to a circle or being of light, often identified as Jesus. This all-loving and gentle presence sometimes reviews the life with the person, and then “sends” the person back to complete lessons, accept certain responsibilities, or assume an important function (always a favorite of the ego’s specialness needs).
It is not for anyone to judge these near-death experiences, and it would be foolish to deny the very positive effects such experiences have had for people. However, one cancomment on the “theology” of such experiences and the conclusions drawn from them about the meaning of life, death, and the so-called after-life, or “life after life.”
The reader must keep in mind that A Course in Miracles states quite clearly that the mind is not in the body, though it certainly can appear otherwise. For example, from the workbook:
The mind can think it sleeps, but that is all. It cannot change what is its waking state. It cannot make a body, nor abide within a body. What is alien to the mind does not exist, because it has no source….What seems to be the opposite of life is merely sleeping. When the mind elects to be what it is not [the body], and to assume an alien power which it does not have, a foreign state [the body] it cannot enter, or a false condition not within its Source, it merely seems to go to sleep a while. It dreams of time; an interval in which what seems to happen never has occurred, the changes wrought are substanceless, and all events are nowhere. When the mind awakes, it but continues as it always was (W-pI.167.6:1-4; 9; italics ours).
And from “Beyond the Body” in the text:
The home of vengeance [the body] is not yours; the place you set aside to house your hate is not a prison, but an illusion of yourself. The body is a limit imposed on the universal communication that is an eternal property of mind. But the communication is internal. Mind reaches to itself. It is not made up of different parts, which reach each other. It does not go out. Within itself it has no limits, and there is nothing outside it. It encompasses everything. It encompasses you entirely; you within it and it within you. There is nothing else, anywhere or ever (T-I 8.VI.8:2-11; italics ours in sentences 5,7).
Therefore, when we consider such near-death experiences from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, we can see that they make no sense on the level of form. How can one leave one’s body, travel through a tunnel, and greet a great light, if one were never in the body in the first place? Remember that the self remains in the mind and not the body, just as a dreamer’s self is not in the dream, though parts of this self are reflected there. Again, this is not to deny or invalidate a personal experience, but it is to say that however valid an experience is for the person, the interpretation is purely subjective and should not be taken for “objective” truth. For example, everyone experiences the sun as rising and setting every day, and many people report very significant aesthetic and even spiritual feelings associated with sunrises and sunsets. And yet, we know scientifically that the sun does not rise or set, but rather it is the earth that does the movement: rotating on its axis and revolving around the sun. The experience is contrary to the true explanation. Similarly, we all experience the earth as flat as we go through our daily lives, even though we understand intellectually that it is round. And so, one’s experience of a near-death occurrence, or of a place to which one goes upon death (or near death) does not necessarily mean that what is understood as the experience is what truly is. And again, when one looks at such experiences through the lens of A Course in Miracles, one would understand them quite differently: expressions of forgiveness that were projected from the mind onto the body and its world of life, death, and near death.
As we have seen, therefore, there cannot in truth be an out-of-body experience since the mind is never in the body to begin with. And so the mind cannot leave the body, travel through a tunnel, and meet with Jesus after having left the body. Moreover, there is a danger in believing this way, because it strongly suggests — as do many people who have had such an experience — that such peace, joy, and happiness can only come to a person after having “died” and left the body. The whole focus of A Course in Miracles is on choosing and having a holy instant right now, on choosing Jesus or the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. One does not have to die to go to Heaven, since Heaven is an awareness of perfect Oneness, within the mind, and nothing else besides that. The wonderful experience of forgiveness that is frequently reported can be had in a holy instant, again, without having left the body, going through a tunnel, etc. Holding up near-death experiences to be idealized and sought for (as was depicted in the popular movie Flatliners) actually serves well the ego’s fundamental strategy of first making the body real, and then turning it into a repulsive thing. This sets up a situation in which people would wish to be free of its prison of darkness, yearning to escape into the non-corporeal light. And all the while, the ego’s thought system of separation, guilt, and specialness nestles comfortably in the mind, protected by the belief that there is indeed a body that is real, and one that truly exists in the physical world.
Thus, believing in the reality of such experiences is the very compromise with truth — giving light and darkness equal power and reality — that Jesus cautions against in A Course in Miracles. We see a clear statement of such a caution in the section on death in the manual for teachers, and we quote from this extremely important passage now. It begins with a reference to the standard religious belief that upon death the soul is freed to return to God, or to continue on its journey as in the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. However, the contemporary interest in near-death experiences, as we have just seen, falls into the same category of not recognizing the illusory nature of the entire physical universe and of individual existence — body, mind, and what is mistakenly referred to as “spirit”:
The curious belief that there is part of dying things [i.e., a soul, or “life force”] that may go on apart from what will die, does not proclaim a loving God nor re-establish any grounds for trust. If death is real for anything, there is no life. Death denies life. But if there is reality in life, death is denied. No compromise in this is possible. There is either a god of fear or One of Love. The world attempts a thousand compromises, and will attempt a thousand more. Not one can be acceptable to God’s teachers, because not one could be acceptable to God. He did not make death because He did not make fear. Both are equally meaningless to Him.The “reality” of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s Son is a body. And if God created bodies, death would indeed be real. But God would not be loving. There is no point at which the contrast between the perception of the real world and that of the world of illusions becomes more sharply evident….
“And the last to be overcome will be death” [the famous statement of St. Paul from his first letter to the Corinthians, 15:26]. Of course! Without the idea of death there is no world. All dreams will end with this one. This is salvation’s final goal; the end of all illusions. And in death are all illusions born. What can be born of death and still have life? But what is born of God and still can die? The inconsistencies, the compromises and the rituals the world fosters in its vain attempts to cling to death and yet to think love real are mindless magic, ineffectual and meaningless. God is, and in Him all created things must be eternal. Do you not see that otherwise He has an opposite, and fear would be as real as love?
Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which death plays a part. Do not believe in cruelty, nor let attack conceal the truth from you. What seems to die [the body that had been “alive”] has but been misperceived and carried to illusion. Now it becomes your task to let the illusion be carried to the truth. Be steadfast but in this; be not deceived by the “reality” of any changing form. Truth neither moves nor wavers nor sinks down to death and dissolution, And what is the end of death? Nothing but this; the realization that the Son of God is guiltless now and forever. Nothing but this. But do not let yourself forget it is not less than this (M-27.4:1-5:4; 6-7; italics ours).
In conclusion, therefore, we can understand that anything that seems to live and then die, that changes, grows, and subsequently deteriorates, or that appears to be separate from others, cannot be of God and therefore cannot be real. And so all categories that relate to bodies in any way — including death and near death — have no true meaning because they do not truly exist. Their only meaning within the illusion comes in their serving as classrooms in which we learn the lesson of discerning between the meaningless and the meaningful.