A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 27

ACIM Text Reading for July 27

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

IV. The Fear to Look Within

The Holy Spirit will never teach you that you are sinful. Errors He will correct, but this makes no one fearful. You are indeed afraid to look within and see the sin you think is there. This you would not be fearful to admit. Fear in association with sin the ego deems quite appropriate, and smiles approvingly. It has no fear to let you feel ashamed. It doubts not your belief and faith in sin. Its temples do not shake because of this. Your faith that sin is there but witnesses to your desire that it be there to see. This merely seems to be the source of fear.

Remember that the ego is not alone. Its rule is tempered, and its unknown ‘enemy’, Whom it cannot even see, it fears. Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look. Yet this is not the ego’s hidden fear, nor yours who serve it. Loudly indeed the ego claims it is; too loudly and too often. For underneath this constant shout and frantic proclamation, the ego is not certain it is so. Beneath your fear to look within because of sin is yet another fear, and one which makes the ego tremble.

What if you looked within and saw no sin? This ‘fearful’ question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego’s whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend. Those who have joined their brothers have detached themselves from their belief that their identity lies in the ego. A holy relationship is one in which you join with what is part of you in truth. And your belief in sin has been already shaken, nor are you now entirely unwilling to look within and see it not.

Your liberation still is only partial; still limited and incomplete, yet born within you. Not wholly mad, you have been willing to look on much of your insanity and recognise its madness. Your faith is moving inward, past insanity and on to reason. And what your reason tells you now the ego would not hear. The Holy Spirit’s purpose was accepted by the part of your mind the ego knows not of. No more did you. And yet this part, with which you now identify, is not afraid to look upon itself. It knows no sin. How, otherwise, could it have been willing to see the Holy Spirit’s purpose as its own?

This part has seen your brother, and recognised him perfectly since time began. And it desired nothing but to join with him and to be free again, as once it was. It has been waiting for the birth of freedom; the acceptance of release to come to you. And now you recognise that it was not the ego that joined the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and so there must be something else. Think not that this is madness. For this your reason tells you, and it follows perfectly from what you have already learned.

There is no inconsistency in what the Holy Spirit teaches. This is the reasoning of the sane. You have perceived the ego’s madness, and not been made afraid because you did not choose to share in it. At times it still deceives you. Yet in your saner moments, its ranting strikes no terror in your heart. For you have realised that all the gifts it would withdraw from you, in rage at your ‘presumptuous’ wish to look within, you do not want. A few remaining trinkets still seem to shine and catch your eye. Yet you would not ‘sell’ Heaven to have them.

And now the ego is afraid. Yet what it hears in terror, the other part hears as the sweetest music; the song it longed to hear since first the ego came into your mind. The ego’s weakness is its strength. The song of freedom, which sings the praises of another world, brings to it hope of peace. For it remembers Heaven, and now it sees that Heaven has come to earth at last, from which the ego’s rule has kept it out so long. Heaven has come because it found a home in your relationship on earth. And earth can hold no longer what has been given Heaven as its own.

Look gently on your brother, and remember the ego’s weakness is revealed in both your sight. What it would keep apart has met and joined, and looks upon the ego unafraid. Little child, innocent of sin, follow in gladness the way to certainty. Be not held back by fear’s insane insistence that sureness lies in doubt. This has no meaning. What matters it to you how loudly it is proclaimed? The senseless is not made meaningful by repetition and by clamour. The quiet way is open. Follow it happily, and question not what must be so.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 27

Lesson 192

I have a function God would have me fill.

It is your Father’s holy Will that you complete Himself, and that your Self shall be His sacred Son, forever pure as He, of love created and in love preserved, extending love, creating in its name, forever one with God and with your Self. Yet what can such a function mean within a world of envy, hatred and attack?

Therefore, you have a function in the world in its own terms. For who can understand a language far beyond his simple grasp? Forgiveness represents your function here. It is not God’s creation, for it is the means by which untruth can be undone. And who would pardon Heaven? Yet on earth, you need the means to let illusions go. Creation merely waits for your return to be acknowledged, not to be complete.

Creation cannot even be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here. Forgiveness is the closest it can come to earth. For being Heaven-born, it has no form at all. Yet God created One Who has the power to translate in form the wholly formless. What He makes are dreams, but of a kind so close to waking that the light of day already shines in them, and eyes already opening behold the joyful sights their offerings contain.

Forgiveness gently looks upon all things unknown in Heaven, sees them disappear, and leaves the world a clean and unmarked slate on which the Word of God can now replace the senseless symbols written there before. Forgiveness is the means by which the fear of death is overcome, because it holds no fierce attraction now and guilt is gone. Forgiveness lets the body be perceived as what it is; a simple teaching aid, to be laid by when learning is complete, but hardly changing him who learns at all.

The mind without the body cannot make mistakes. It cannot think that it will die, nor be the prey of merciless attack. Anger becomes impossible, and where is terror then? What fears could still assail those who have lost the source of all attack, the core of anguish and the seat of fear? Only forgiveness can relieve the mind of thinking that the body is its home. Only forgiveness can restore the peace that God intended for His holy Son. Only forgiveness can persuade the Son to look again upon his holiness.

With anger gone, you will indeed perceive that, for Christ’s vision and the gift of sight, no sacrifice was asked, and only pain was lifted from a sick and tortured mind. Is this unwelcome? Is it to be feared? Or is it to be hoped for, met with thanks and joyously accepted? We are one, and therefore give up nothing. But we have indeed been given everything by God.

Yet do we need forgiveness to perceive that this is so. Without its kindly light we grope in darkness, using reason but to justify our rage and our attack. Our understanding is so limited that what we think we understand is but confusion born of error. We are lost in mists of shifting dreams and fearful thoughts, our eyes shut tight against the light; our minds engaged in worshipping what is not there.

Who can be born again in Christ but him who has forgiven everyone he sees or thinks of or imagines? Who could be set free while he imprisons anyone? A jailer is not free, for he is bound together with his prisoner. He must be sure that he does not escape, and so he spends his time in keeping watch on him. The bars that limit him become the world in which his jailer lives, along with him. And it is on his freedom that the way to liberty depends for both of them.

Therefore, hold no one prisoner. Release instead of bind, for thus are you made free. The way is simple. Every time you feel a stab of anger, realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free. Thus does each one who seems to tempt you to be angry represent your savior from the prison house of death. And so you owe him thanks instead of pain.

Be merciful today. The Son of God deserves your mercy. It is he who asks that you accept the way to freedom now. Deny him not. His Father’s Love for him belongs to you. Your function here on earth is only to forgive him, that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1254(i): (The following two questions were submitted by the same person.)

A Course in Miracles states that “ everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked ” (T.21.II.2:5). On one of your tapes you said that if I am stuck and feel miserable, it is because I want to be stuck and feel miserable. I am having such a struggle in this life with everything — job, family, where I live. It just does not seem possible that this is happening because I want to struggle and be unhappy. I feel like I do not want life to be so difficult, and that the way my life has gone and is going is totally out of my control. I know I don’t know what I’m doing or how to be free of all of this misery. When we become aware that we are getting what we ask for, which for some of us is an unhappy life, how do we change it? Or is it just your lot in life?

A: First, Jesus is not referring to external circumstances or events in the passage you quoted; he is talking only about our interpretation or how we experience what goes on in our lives. What that means is that seeing yourself as an innocent victim of outside forces is an interpretation. It comes as quite a shock to most students, when, in the very next sentence, he says that to feel that way is self-deception (T.21.II.2:6). It is true that we cannot control most things in the world: the weather, the speed of light, the job and housing markets, the decisions and actions of dictators, etc., but we definitely can control our responses to these forces as they affect our lives. That is the level of responsibility that Jesus is referring to and training us to focus on, because that is the beginning phase of recovering the power of our minds, which we gave away when we chose separation over union with God. This does not mean, though, that you should not take whatever steps you can to improve your situation in the world.

The main point is that the peace of God is within our minds as part of our very being and therefore is not dependent on anything outside us. Nothing can take it away or diminish it, as Jesus expresses in the lesson “My salvation comes from me”: “The seeming cost of accepting today’s idea is this: It means that nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace. But it also means that nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way” (W.pI.70.2:1,2; see also W.pI.152). This is indeed hard for us to comprehend, but it is the heart of Jesus’ radical message. If peace is within us at all times and we don’t experience it, there can be but one reason: we ourselves chose against it because the ego’s offering was more appealing to us at the moment. We then deny we did that, and blame our lack of peace on something other than that decision. It is true, as you say, that it makes no sense to think we actually want to be miserable and to be constantly struggling, but all that means is that we are not in touch with our mind’s dynamics and are just deluding ourselves about why we are unhappy. Correcting this confusion is a main objective of the lessons in the workbook — for example, Lesson 5 states, “I am never upset for the reason I think” (W.pI.5).

Based on the strategy of the ego, what we want (in our wrong minds) is to keep our existence as individuals separate from God, but not the guilt over that; however, to achieve that goal, we cannot stay in our minds, because that’s where God can get us, the ego warns. Therefore, we must project ourselves into another state; and (to abbreviate a very long story) that’s why we experience ourselves only as bodies struggling to survive in a world that seems to throw one problem after another at us. Then the world is the problem, not the decision we are making in our minds, because we are no longer aware that we even have a mind. The ego’s strategy thus has succeeded — apparently. So in A Course in Miracles, Jesus exposes this whole plot and teaches us how to end our suffering through the practice of forgiveness.

Similar concerns have been expressed by other students, and you might find it helpful to read these discussions. See Questions #980, #1353, and #1359.


Q #1254(ii): When I do the workbook lessons in A Course in Miracles and need to go into my mind away from the world, and reach God, I have never been able to do that. I have done the lessons several times and still am no better at sinking down, inward. I don’t get to a peaceful place, or the altar or anywhere I am asked to “go”. Can you help?

A: Patience and trust are the key to practicing the lessons. Your wanting to do what Jesus asks is what truly heals your mind, not necessarily perfect results as you would be tempted to judge them. Your willingness is the content that really matters. That is what you want to trust in. The action, so to speak, is going on at another level of which you are not aware; therefore, it could well be that you are making great strides spiritually simply by wanting to get beyond your ego, even though you do not experience being beyond it see T.18.V.1). The experience may come in a different way — perhaps at a time when you ordinarily would be anxious or angry, and that does not happen. Just try not to judge yourself as you do the lessons.

the way to god

 

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 9

ACIM Text Reading for July 9

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

V. The Fear to Look Within

The Holy Spirit will never teach you that you are sinful. Errors He will correct, but this makes no one fearful. You are indeed afraid to look within and see the sin you think is there. This you would not be fearful to admit. Fear in association with sin the ego deems quite appropriate, and smiles approvingly. It has no fear to let you feel ashamed. It doubts not your belief and faith in sin. Its temples do not shake because of this. Your faith that sin is there but witnesses to your desire that it bethere to see. This merely seems to be the source of fear.

Remember that the ego is not alone. Its rule is tempered, and its unknown “enemy,” Whom it cannot even see, it fears. Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look. Yet this is not the ego’s hidden fear, nor yours who serve it. Loudly indeed the ego claims it is; too loudly and too often. For underneath this constant shout and frantic proclamation, the ego is not certain it is so. Beneath your fear to look within because of sin is yet another fear, and one which makes the ego tremble.

What if you looked within and saw no sin? This “fearful” question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego’s whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend. Those who have joined their brothers have detached themselves from their belief that their identity lies in the ego. A holy relationship is one in which you join with what is part of you in truth. And your belief in sin has been already shaken, nor are you now entirely unwilling to look within and see it not.

Your liberation still is only partial; still limited and incomplete, yet born within you. Not wholly mad, you have been willing to look on much of your insanity and recognize its madness. Your faith is moving inward, past insanity and on to reason. And what your reason tells you now the ego would not hear. The Holy Spirit’s purpose was accepted by the part of your mind the ego knows not of. No more did you. And yet this part, with which you now identify, is not afraid to look upon itself. It knows no sin. How, otherwise, could it have been willing to see the Holy Spirit’s purpose as its own?

This part has seen your brother, and recognized him perfectly since time began. And it desired nothing but to join with him and to be free again, as once it was. It has been waiting for the birth of freedom; the acceptance of release to come to you. And now you recognize that it was not the ego that joined the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and so there must be something else. Think not that this is madness. For this your reason tells you, and it follows perfectly from what you have already learned.

There is no inconsistency in what the Holy Spirit teaches. This is the reasoning of the sane. You have perceived the ego’s madness, and not been made afraid because you did not choose to share in it. At times it still deceives you. Yet in your saner moments, its ranting strikes no terror in your heart. For you have realized that all the gifts it would withdraw from you, in rage at your “presumptuous” wish to look within, you do not want. A few remaining trinkets still seem to shine and catch your eye. Yet you would not “sell” Heaven to have them.

And now the ego is afraid. Yet what it hears in terror, the other part hears as the sweetest music; the song it longed to hear since first the ego came into your mind. The ego’s weakness is its strength. The song of freedom, which sings the praises of another world, brings to it hope of peace. For it remembers Heaven, and now it sees that Heaven has come to earth at last, from which the ego’s rule has kept it out so long. Heaven has come because it found a home in your relationship on earth. And earth can hold no longer what has been given Heaven as its own.

Look gently on your brother, and remember the ego’s weakness is revealed in both your sight. What it would keep apart has met and joined, and looks upon the ego unafraid. Little child, innocent of sin, follow in gladness the way to certainty. Be not held back by fear’s insane insistence that sureness lies in doubt. This has no meaning. What matters it to you how loudly it is proclaimed? The senseless is not made meaningful by repetition and by clamor. The quiet way is open. Follow it happily, and question not what must be so.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 9

Lesson 190

I choose the joy of God instead of pain.

Pain is a wrong perspective. When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception. It is not a fact at all. There is no form it takes that will not disappear if seen aright. For pain proclaims God cruel. How could it be real in any form? It witnesses to God the Father’s hatred of His Son, the sinfulness He sees in him, and His insane desire for revenge and death.

Can such projections be attested to? Can they be anything but wholly false? Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is. It is a dream of fierce retaliation for a crime that could not be committed; for attack on what is wholly unassailable. It is a nightmare of abandonment by an Eternal Love, which could not leave the Son whom It created out of love.

Pain is a sign illusions reign in place of truth. It demonstrates God is denied, confused with fear, perceived as mad, and seen as traitor to Himself. If God is real, there is no pain. If pain is real, there is no God. For vengeance is not part of love. And fear, denying love and using pain to prove that God is dead, has shown that death is victor over life. The body is the Son of God, corruptible in death, as mortal as the Father he has slain.

Peace to such foolishness! The time has come to laugh at such insane ideas. There is no need to think of them as savage crimes, or secret sins with weighty consequence. Who but a madman could conceive of them as cause of anything? Their witness, pain, is mad as they, and no more to be feared than the insane illusions which it shields, and tries to demonstrate must still be true.

It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. There is no cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression. No one but yourself affects you. There is nothing in the world that has the power to make you ill or sad, or weak or frail. But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are. As you perceive the harmlessness in them, they will accept your holy will as theirs. And what was seen as fearful now becomes a source of innocence and holiness.

My holy brother, think of this awhile: The world you see does nothing. It has no effects at all. It merely represents your thoughts. And it will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want. Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever. And would you deny a little corner of your mind its own inheritance, and keep it as a hospital for pain; a sickly place where living things must come at last to die?

The world may seem to cause you pain. And yet the world, as causeless, has no power to cause. As an effect, it cannot make effects. As an illusion, it is what you wish. Your idle wishes represent its pains. Your strange desires bring it evil dreams. Your thoughts of death envelop it in fear, while in your kind forgiveness does it live.

Pain is the thought of evil taking form, and working havoc in your holy mind. Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid not to be free. In pain is God denied the Son He loves. In pain does fear appear to triumph over love, and time replace eternity and Heaven. And the world becomes a cruel and a bitter place, where sorrow rules and little joys give way before the onslaught of the savage pain that waits to end all joy in misery.

Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven’s peace holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. Let no attack enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness.

Here will you understand there is no pain. Here does the joy of God belong to you. This is the day when it is given you to realize the lesson that contains all of salvation’s power. It is this: Pain is illusion; joy, reality. Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening. Pain is deception; joy alone is truth.

And so again we make the only choice that ever can be made; we choose between illusions and the truth, or pain and joy, or hell and Heaven. Let our gratitude unto our Teacher fill our hearts, as we are free to choose our joy instead of pain, our holiness in place of sin, the peace of God instead of conflict, and the light of Heaven for the darkness of the world.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #811How would A Course in Miracles explain a negative intuitive/gut feeling I get when I meet a certain person? A new neighbor recently moved in and I get a strong negative feeling about this person — that he may be socially deviant and someone I need to be worried about. Clearly there are misperceptions here in that I am not seeing this person as a perfect child of God and that I am seeing myself as vulnerable. How would Jesus have me deal with this situation? What is this intuitive feeling? Is it just an extension of my ego?

A: In A Course in Miracles , Jesus teaches that the fundamental attack thought is the mind’s decision to proclaim: “I am a body.” Identity with the body is thus established, along with guilt for the “sin” of having taken the thought of separation seriously. In order to preserve body identity and escape responsibility for the attack, the mind erases the memory of making the choice. It does so by projecting guilt and seeing attack outside itself. This is the true source of everyone’s attack and fear of attack in the world, including your intuitive feeling: “Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack. And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable. Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are” (W.pI.26.2:3). The deep feeling of vulnerability is a reflection of the guilt for having chosen the ego. Fear thus becomes the force at work in the world, which is why it is filled with attacks ranging from the seemingly innocuous to the vicious. From fear comes the ego’s vast arsenal of defenses spurred by guilt’s battle cry “killed or be killed” (M.17.7:11). Therefore, like the rest of the animal kingdom, humans are trained to sense danger (sometimes with “gut feelings”), defend against it, and attack the perceived enemy. The important thing to remember, from the perspective of the Course’s teaching, is that the source of all fear and vulnerability is guilt in the mind for choosing to believe the separation is real. The guilt is projected in many different forms of attack, some of which the world judges to be more deleterious than others. However, the attacker and the victim’s fear have the same source in the mind. In content, they are both equally insane. Recognition of this sameness is a good place to start in dealing with those whose insanity sparks fear in us in a more obvious way. In the Course, Jesus teaches that the source of fear is not the potential harm of someone else’s attack on the body, but the mind’s choice for separation.

However, although he tells us the “ mind cannot attack or be attacked” (T.7.VIII.4:3) , he also tells us thoughts are dangerous to bodies. (T.21.VIII.1). Therefore, it is wise to be careful in deal­ing with the world, and especially with those whose fear is expressed in physical attack upon oth­ers. Neither their fear, nor the harmful form it takes, diminishes their true Identity as a perfect sons of God, but it can make them dangerous bodies to be around: “frightened people can be vicious” (T.3.I.4:2). As long as any belief in the body is held, there is nothing wrong with being cautious when the threat of physical harm is perceived. This is no different from seeking medical help when the body is sick. We are not asked to deny our belief in the body, our fear, nor the potential for actual attack. What Jesus does ask us to do, is observe the feelings of vulnerability, fear, or defensiveness that arise, recognizing in them the mind’s forgotten choice to identify with the thought of separation and the body, thereby denying the true Identity of God’s Son; ours and the neighbor’s. Recognition of fear’s true source is an expression of the “little willingness” (26.VII.10:1) that is required. It takes the blame off our neighbors for the source of our fear, and returns our attention to our own mind’s need of healing. At least, then, we are at the root of the problem and can ask the Holy Spirit’s help to make another choice. That is all that is required.

Know Yourself

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 6

ACIM Text Reading for July 6

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

V. The Fear to Look Within
The Holy Spirit will never teach you that you are sinful. Errors He will correct, but this makes no one fearful. You are indeed afraid to look within and see the sin you think is there. This you would not be fearful to admit. Fear in association with sin the ego deems quite appropriate, and smiles approvingly. It has no fear to let you feel ashamed. It doubts not your belief and faith in sin. Its temples do not shake because of this. Your faith that sin is there but witnesses to your desire that it be there to see. This merely seems to be the source of fear.

Remember that the ego is not alone. Its rule is tempered, and its unknown “enemy,” Whom it cannot even see, it fears. Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look. Yet this is not the ego’s hidden fear, nor yours who serve it. Loudly indeed the ego claims it is; too loudly and too often. For underneath this constant shout and frantic proclamation, the ego is not certain it is so. Beneath your fear to look within because of sin is yet another fear, and one which makes the ego tremble.

What if you looked within and saw no sin? This “fearful” question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego’s whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend. Those who have joined their brothers have detached themselves from their belief that their identity lies in the ego. A holy relationship is one in which you join with what is part of you in truth. And your belief in sin has been already shaken, nor are you now entirely unwilling to look within and see it not.

Your liberation still is only partial; still limited and incomplete, yet born within you. Not wholly mad, you have been willing to look on much of your insanity and recognize its madness. Your faith is moving inward, past insanity and on to reason. And what your reason tells you now the ego would not hear. The Holy Spirit’s purpose was accepted by the part of your mind the ego knows not of. No more did you. And yet this part, with which you now identify, is not afraid to look upon itself. It knows no sin. How, otherwise, could it have been willing to see the Holy Spirit’s purpose as its own?

This part has seen your brother, and recognized him perfectly since time began. And it desired nothing but to join with him and to be free again, as once it was. It has been waiting for the birth of freedom; the acceptance of release to come to you. And now you recognize that it was not the ego that joined the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and so there must be something else. Think not that this is madness. For this your reason tells you, and it follows perfectly from what you have already learned.

There is no inconsistency in what the Holy Spirit teaches. This is the reasoning of the sane. You have perceived the ego’s madness, and not been made afraid because you did not choose to share in it. At times it still deceives you. Yet in your saner moments, its ranting strikes no terror in your heart. For you have realized that all the gifts it would withdraw from you, in rage at your “presumptuous” wish to look within, you do not want. A few remaining trinkets still seem to shine and catch your eye. Yet you would not “sell” Heaven to have them.

And now the ego is afraid. Yet what it hears in terror, the other part hears as the sweetest music; the song it longed to hear since first the ego came into your mind. The ego’s weakness is its strength. The song of freedom, which sings the praises of another world, brings to it hope of peace. For it remembers Heaven, and now it sees that Heaven has come to earth at last, from which the ego’s rule has kept it out so long. Heaven has come because it found a home in your relationship on earth. And earth can hold no longer what has been given Heaven as its own.

Look gently on your brother, and remember the ego’s weakness is revealed in both your sight. What it would keep apart has met and joined, and looks upon the ego unafraid. Little child, innocent of sin, follow in gladness the way to certainty. Be not held back by fear’s insane insistence that sureness lies in doubt. This has no meaning. What matters it to you how loudly it is proclaimed? The senseless is not made meaningful by repetition and by clamor. The quiet way is open. Follow it happily, and question not what must be so.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 6

Lesson 187
I bless the world because I bless myself.

No one can give unless he has. In fact, giving is proof of having. We have made this point before. What seems to make it hard to credit is not this. No one can doubt that you must first possess what you would give. It is the second phase on which the world and true perception differ. Having had and given, then the world asserts that you have lost what you possessed. The truth maintains that giving will increase what you possess.

How is this possible? For it is sure that if you give a finite thing away, your body’s eyes will not perceive it yours. Yet we have learned that things but represent the thoughts that make them. And you do not lack for proof that when you give ideas away, you strengthen them in your own mind. Perhaps the form in which the thought seems to appear is changed in giving. Yet it must return to him who gives. Nor can the form it takes be less acceptable. It must be more.

Ideas must first belong to you, before you give them. If you are to save the world, you first accept salvation for yourself. But you will not believe that this is done until you see the miracles it brings to everyone you look upon. Herein is the idea of giving clarified and given meaning. Now you can perceive that by your giving is your store increased.

Protect all things you value by the act of giving them away, and you are sure that you will never lose them. What you thought you did not have is thereby proven yours. Yet value not its form. For this will change and grow unrecognizable in time, however much you try to keep it safe. No form endures. It is the thought behind the form of things that lives unchangeable.

Give gladly. You can only gain thereby. The thought remains, and grows in strength as it is reinforced by giving. Thoughts extend as they are shared, for they can not be lost. There is no giver and receiver in the sense the world conceives of them. There is a giver who retains; another who will give as well. And both must gain in this exchange, for each will have the thought in form most helpful to him. What he seems to lose is always something he will value less than what will surely be returned to him.

Never forget you give but to yourself. Who understands what giving means must laugh at the idea of sacrifice. Nor can he fail to recognize the many forms which sacrifice may take. He laughs as well at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death. He recognizes sacrifice remains the one idea that stands behind them all, and in his gentle laughter are they healed.

Illusion recognized must disappear. Accept not suffering, and you remove the thought of suffering. Your blessing lies on everyone who suffers, when you choose to see all suffering as what it is. The thought of sacrifice gives rise to all the forms that suffering appears to take. And sacrifice is an idea so mad that sanity dismisses it at once.

Never believe that you can sacrifice. There is no place for sacrifice in what has any value. If the thought occurs, its very presence proves that error has arisen and correction must be made. Your blessing will correct it. Given first to you, it now is yours to give as well. No form of sacrifice and suffering can long endure before the face of one who has forgiven and has blessed himself.

The lilies that your brother offers you are laid upon your altar, with the ones you offer him beside them. Who could fear to look upon such lovely holiness? The great illusion of the fear of God diminishes to nothingness before the purity that you will look on here. Be not afraid to look. The blessedness you will behold will take away all thought of form, and leave instead the perfect gift forever there, forever to increase, forever yours, forever given away.

Now are we one in thought, for fear has gone. And here, before the altar to one God, one Father, one Creator and one Thought, we stand together as one Son of God. Not separate from Him Who is our Source; not distant from one brother who is part of our one Self Whose innocence has joined us all as one, we stand in blessedness, and give as we receive. The Name of God is on our lips. And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father’s Love.

Now are we blessed, and now we bless the world. What we have looked upon we would extend, for we would see it everywhere. We would behold it shining with the grace of God in everyone. We would not have it be withheld from anything we look upon. And to ensure this holy sight is ours, we offer it to everything we see. For where we see it, it will be returned to us in form of lilies we can lay upon our altar, making it a home for Innocence Itself, Who dwells in us and offers us His Holiness as ours.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #915: I am a builder, and practicing the forgiveness process while I work has helped me greatly in taking the pain and frustration out of much of my work. I can actually go to work and instead of feeling that I have to ‘attack’ the day aggressively and fight with my work and materials, the work just gets done peacefully one step at a time now, and I’m very grateful for that important change. Another problem my activity causes me, however, is regular physical pain, hunger, and fatigue. And so I wonder to what extent forgiveness could help me there. The pain, hunger and need for rest and sleep seem like normal by-products of my activity, but if everything here is just a reflection of what is in the mind, and if all body needs and reactions are the manifestation of guilt on some level, then I imagine I should be able to do something about them. Am I off on the wrong track?

If I see these physical symptoms as other manifestations of ontological guilt, then conceivably I could allow even more peace in my daily activity, whether or not that translates into physical changes — would that be right? And would I be right in assuming that ‘anything’ that is a mental, emotional or physical reaction within me is a sign of guilt and a request for forgiveness, because in the real world there are no more reactions as such since there is no real ‘me’ anymore? If so, that would give me a lot more to work on while at the building site.

And another little side question — I rarely come into contact with other people in my work since I work alone and live in an isolated part of the country. And so I wonder if I can fulfill the forgiveness process fully because we are supposed to have encounters with others and that just doesn’t happen in my life. I would like that to happen, and would like to be with people, but that’s just not the way things are for the moment. Forgiveness can be complete nevertheless, because all minds are joined, no?

A: Wherever you seem to find yourself, that’s your classroom, and, rest assured, there your lessons will be. So your particular situation, despite its physical isolation from others, still provides you with the opportunities to practice forgiveness, as you have surmised. Physical pain certainly is an indication that there remains an unhealed, projected thought of guilt in the mind, and so your suggestion that you could use such symptoms as a reminder to look within is a good one. And the goal and the focus of your practice, from the perspective of A Course in Miracles , would be to release the guilt, and not to relieve the bodily pain — although that certainly could be an after- effect of the forgiveness.

The “normal” reactions of the body, such as hunger and fatigue, indicate simply that you are still identified with the body, which will be the case for each of us until the very end of our individual Atonement process. Likewise, if you see what you believe to be yourself staring back at you from a mirror, you still must be believing that you need a defense against the buried guilt in your mind. So it may be helpful to remember that the body, once we have made it real in our experience, becomes a wholly neutral thing (W.pI.294) . And all of its normal functions, including eating and sleeping, are simply limitations that will in general seem to accompany that bodily experience.

What determines the body’s meaning is the purpose we give it (T.26.VIII.3:7) , and that may be a further fruitful focus for your attention. Specifically, how do you see yourself in relationship to others? Their bodies do not have to be present for you to have “encounters” with your brothers and sisters in your mind — which in reality is where all encounters occur, with all the accompanying forgiveness lessons. During all your time by yourself, do you find that you spend some of that time thinking about others in your life — family, friends, acquaintances — both past and present? And what is the nature of those thoughts? Are there still grievances, irritations, annoyances, etc., in relationship to others that come to mind? Are there feelings of special love associated with certain ones? All these will be projections of your own guilt, and hence opportunities once again to look within and acknowledge and release the buried guilt.

Your willingness to use everything that your ego presents to you (always presented by your own choice!) is all that Jesus is asking of any of us. Each of your reactions, as you note, at every level, provides another opportunity to choose again. A passage from the workbook describes very clearly the kind of shift you are alluding to, which will become permanent only at the end of our journey back home, although there will be glimpses and then greater lengths of time where this will be our experience, in those moments when we have suspended all thoughts of judgment and attack:

“Now is the body healed, because the source of sickness [ the mind ] has been opened to relief. And you will recognize you practiced well by this: The body should not feel at all. If you have been successful, there will be no sense of feeling ill or feeling well, of pain or pleasure. No response at all is in the mind to what the body does. Its usefulness remains and nothing more.

“Perhaps you do not realize that this removes the limits you had placed upon the body by the purposes you gave to it. As these are laid aside, the strength the body has will always be enough to serve all truly useful purposes. The body’s health is fully guaranteed, because it is not limited by time, by weather or fatigue, by food and drink, or any laws you made it serve before. You need do nothing now to make it well, for sickness has become impossible” ( W.pI.136.17,18 ) .

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 2

ACIM Text Reading for July 2

Chapter 21 ~ Reason And Perception

IV. The Fear to Look Within

The Holy Spirit will never teach you that you are sinful. Errors He will correct, but this makes no one fearful. You are indeed afraid to look within and see the sin you think is there. This you would not be fearful to admit. Fear in association with sin the ego deems quite appropriate, and smiles approvingly. It has no fear to let you feel ashamed. It doubts not your belief and faith in sin. Its temples do not shake because of this. Your faith that sin is there but witnesses to your desire that it be there to see. This merely seems to be the source of fear.

Remember that the ego is not alone. Its rule is tempered, and its unknown ‘enemy’, Whom it cannot even see, it fears. Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look. Yet this is not the ego’s hidden fear, nor yours who serve it. Loudly indeed the ego claims it is; too loudly and too often. For underneath this constant shout and frantic proclamation, the ego is not certain it is so. Beneath your fear to look within because of sin is yet another fear, and one which makes the ego tremble.

What if you looked within and saw no sin? This ‘fearful’ question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego’s whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend. Those who have joined their brothers have detached themselves from their belief that their identity lies in the ego. A holy relationship is one in which you join with what is part of you in truth. And your belief in sin has been already shaken, nor are you now entirely unwilling to look within and see it not.

Your liberation still is only partial; still limited and incomplete, yet born within you. Not wholly mad, you have been willing to look on much of your insanity and recognise its madness. Your faith is moving inward, past insanity and on to reason. And what your reason tells you now the ego would not hear. The Holy Spirit’s purpose was accepted by the part of your mind the ego knows not of. No more did you. And yet this part, with which you now identify, is not afraid to look upon itself. It knows no sin. How, otherwise, could it have been willing to see the Holy Spirit’s purpose as its own?

This part has seen your brother, and recognised him perfectly since time began. And it desired nothing but to join with him and to be free again, as once it was. It has been waiting for the birth of freedom; the acceptance of release to come to you. And now you recognise that it was not the ego that joined the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and so there must be something else. Think not that this is madness. For this your reason tells you, and it follows perfectly from what you have already learned.

There is no inconsistency in what the Holy Spirit teaches. This is the reasoning of the sane. You have perceived the ego’s madness, and not been made afraid because you did not choose to share in it. At times it still deceives you. Yet in your saner moments, its ranting strikes no terror in your heart. For you have realised that all the gifts it would withdraw from you, in rage at your ‘presumptuous’ wish to look within, you do not want. A few remaining trinkets still seem to shine and catch your eye. Yet you would not ‘sell’ Heaven to have them.

And now the ego is afraid. Yet what it hears in terror, the other part hears as the sweetest music; the song it longed to hear since first the ego came into your mind. The ego’s weakness is its strength. The song of freedom, which sings the praises of another world, brings to it hope of peace. For it remembers Heaven, and now it sees that Heaven has come to earth at last, from which the ego’s rule has kept it out so long. Heaven has come because it found a home in your relationship on earth. And earth can hold no longer what has been given Heaven as its own.

Look gently on your brother, and remember the ego’s weakness is revealed in both your sight. What it would keep apart has met and joined, and looks upon the ego unafraid. Little child, innocent of sin, follow in gladness the way to certainty. Be not held back by fear’s insane insistence that sureness lies in doubt. This has no meaning. What matters it to you how loudly it is proclaimed? The senseless is not made meaningful by repetition and by clamour. The quiet way is open. Follow it happily, and question not what must be so.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 2

Lesson 183

I call upon God’s Name and on my own.

God’s Name is holy, but no holier than yours. To call upon His Name is but to call upon your own. A father gives his son his name, and thus identifies the son with him. His brothers share his name, and thus are they united in a bond to which they turn for their identity. Your Father’s Name reminds you who you are, even within a world that does not know; even though you have not remembered it.

God’s Name can not be heard without response, nor said without an echo in the mind that calls you to remember. Say His Name, and you invite the angels to surround the ground on which you stand, and sing to you as they spread out their wings to keep you safe, and shelter you from every worldly thought that would intrude upon your holiness.

Repeat God’s Name, and all the world responds by laying down illusions. Every dream the world holds dear has suddenly gone by, and where it seemed to stand you find a star; a miracle of grace. The sick arise, healed of their sickly thoughts. The blind can see; the deaf can hear. The sorrowful cast off their mourning, and the tears of pain are dried as happy laughter comes to bless the world.

Repeat the Name of God, and little names have lost their meaning. No temptation but becomes a nameless and unwanted thing before God’s Name. Repeat His Name, and see how easily you will forget the names of all the gods you valued. They have lost the name of god you gave them. They become anonymous and valueless to you, although before you let the Name of God replace their little names, you stood before them worshipfully, naming them as gods.

Repeat the Name of God, and call upon your Self, Whose Name is His. Repeat His Name, and all the tiny, nameless things on earth slip into right perspective. Those who call upon the Name of God can not mistake the nameless for the Name, nor sin for grace, nor bodies for the holy Son of God. And should you join a brother as you sit with him in silence, and repeat God’s Name along with him within your quiet mind, you have established there an altar which reaches to God Himself and to His Son.

Practice but this today; repeat God’s Name slowly again and still again. Become oblivious to every name but His. Hear nothing else. Let all your thoughts become anchored on this. No other word we use except at the beginning, when we say today’s idea but once. And then God’s Name becomes our only thought, our only word, the only thing that occupies our minds, the only wish we have, the only sound with any meaning, and the only Name of everything that we desire to see; of everything that we would call our own.

Thus do we give an invitation which can never be refused. And God will come, and answer it Himself. Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus. He cannot hear requests that He be not Himself, or that His Son receive another name than His.

Repeat God’s Name, and you acknowledge Him as sole Creator of reality. And you acknowledge also that His Son is part of Him, creating in His Name. Sit silently, and let His Name become the all-encompassing idea that holds your mind completely. Let all thoughts be still except this one. And to all other thoughts respond with this, and see God’s Name replace the thousand little names you gave your thoughts, not realizing that there is one Name for all there is, and all that there will be.

Today you can achieve a state in which you will experience the gift of grace. You can escape all bondage of the world, and give the world the same release you found. You can remember what the world forgot, and offer it your own remembering. You can accept today the part you play in its salvation, and your own as well. And both can be accomplished perfectly.

Turn to the Name of God for your release, and it is given you. No prayer but this is necessary, for it holds them all within it. Words are insignificant, and all requests unneeded when God’s Son calls on his Father’s Name. His Father’s Thoughts become his own. He makes his claim to all his Father gave, is giving still, and will forever give. He calls on Him to let all things he thought he made be nameless now, and in their place the holy Name of God becomes his judgment of their worthlessness.

All little things are silent. Little sounds are soundless now. The little things of earth have disappeared. The universe consists of nothing but the Son of God, who calls upon his Father. And his Father’s Voice gives answer in his Father’s holy Name. In this eternal, still relationship, in which communication far transcends all words, and yet exceeds in depth and height whatever words could possibly convey, is peace eternal. In our Father’s Name, we would experience this peace today. And in His Name, it shall be given us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #965: I am becoming more sensitive to my thoughts, and seeing the world more as an observer. But I have lost a sense of love. If everything is a dream, the world is insane, and our only purpose is to awaken, then what is there left to do? For example, I used to enjoy playing music, but now that doesn’t even make sense to me. I feel sad that my experience of being here doesn’t seem to contain love anymore. What has happened?

A: A Course in Miracles asks us to question every value that we hold (T.24.in.2:1) . If we truly do this, while we still in fact hold these values, how could we not go through a period of disorientation and loss? Jesus expects us to go through this and repeatedly reassures us about it. He tells us that the process of undoing we have undertaken “need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced” (M.4.I.A.3:2).

One of the central, and for the majority of students, most difficult teachings of the Course is that our concept of love is entirely false and misguided. What we have called love until now is really the ego’s substitute for love. The ego defines love as getting our special needs met. That means finding an external source to fill up the lack we perceive in ourselves (caused by our belief that we separated from God, destroying Him and His Love). We can seek to be filled up by — and form special love relationships with — other people, substances, or activities. But doing so is a set up because we are asking something outside of us to save us from our own self-hatred and nothing can actually do that.

Through practicing the Course, it gradually dawns on us that our notion of love makes no sense and that we do not know what real love is. At that point, we start to understand that this world offers nothing we want, but we do not yet comprehend what we do want. Jesus understands the despair this engenders, telling us that “Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope” (T.31.IV.3:4,5).

But then Jesus continues, ” And yet this was the time they could have learned their greatest lesson. All must reach this point, and go beyond it. It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself. The lesson has a purpose, and in this you come to understand what it is for” (T.31.IV.3:6,7,8,9).

In other words, Jesus has a purpose in helping us to see the futility of searching for love in this world. He wants us to stop settling for the ego’s “shabby substitute” for love and to reawaken to the grandeur of the Holy Spirit’s Love that is still in our mind.

That means, no longer seeking for love outside ourselves but rather asking the Holy Spirit to teach us what love really is. From reading the Course, we can understand intellectually that real love means reflecting God’s Love through forgiveness (in other words, taking back the projections of guilt we have placed upon ourselves as well as everyone and everything else). But only by holding the Holy Spirit’s hand can we actually find out how to do that. And that means we need a classroom in which to practice.

You are correct that the Course informs us that the separation never happened and this physical life we think we are living is a dream. But that doesn’t mean there is no point to what we do here. Because we believe we are here, our activities and relationships are the classrooms in which we can learn what love really is. This is why Jesus states, “the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them” (T.17.IV.2:3).

So, as Course students we do not want to drop our special relationships or daily activities. Rather, we want to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us through them. We want to engage in them with Him as our Teacher. Doing this turns everything into an opportunity to shift our purpose from attack and separation to forgiveness and joining.

Approached in this way, our daily activities make perfect sense and acquire great meaning. Then something like playing music can become a symbol of God’s Love in your mind and a source of great joy. And this is how (is in fact the only way) we begin to awaken from this dream. Happy Music Making!

there is nothing to fear