A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 20

ACIM Text Reading for October 20

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VIII. Choose Once Again

Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this:

Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviours of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there.

For He has come, and He is asking this.

How do you make the choice? How easily is this explained! You always choose between your weakness and the strength of Christ in you. And what you choose is what you think is real. Simply by never using weakness to direct your actions, you have given it no power. And the light of Christ in you is given charge of everything you do. For you have brought your weakness unto Him, and He has given you His strength instead.

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, ‘My brother, choose again’. He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. He would remove all misery from you whom God created altar unto joy. He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides His face from you. His holiness is yours because He is the only Power that is real in you. His strength is yours because He is the Self That God created as His only Son.

The images you make cannot prevail against what God Himself would have you be. Be never fearful of temptation, then, but see it as it is; another chance to choose again, and let Christ’s strength prevail in every circumstance and every place you raised an image of yourself before. For what appears to hide the face of Christ is powerless before His majesty, and disappears before His holy sight. The saviours of the world, who see like Him, are merely those who choose His strength instead of their own weakness, seen apart from Him. They will redeem the world, for they are joined in all the power of the Will of God. And what they will is only what He wills.

Learn, then, the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words,

I am as God created me. His Son can suffer nothing. And I am His Son.

Thus is Christ’s strength invited to prevail, replacing all your weakness with the strength that comes from God and that can never fail. And thus are miracles as natural as fear and agony appeared to be before the choice for holiness was made. For in that choice are false distinctions gone, illusory alternatives laid by, and nothing left to interfere with truth.

You are as God created you, and so is every living thing you look upon, regardless of the images you see. What you behold as sickness and as pain, as weakness and as suffering and loss, is but temptation to perceive yourself defenceless and in hell. Yield not to this, and you will see all pain, in every form, wherever it occurs, but disappear as mists before the sun. A miracle has come to heal God’s Son, and close the door upon his dreams of weakness, opening the way to his salvation and release. Choose once again what you would have him be, remembering that every choice you make establishes your own identity as you will see it and believe it is.

Deny me not the little gift I ask, when in exchange I lay before your feet the peace of God, and power to bring this peace to everyone who wanders in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. For it is given you to join with him, and through the Christ in you unveil his eyes, and let him look upon the Christ in him.

My brothers in salvation, do not fail to hear my voice and listen to my words. I ask for nothing but your own release. There is no place for hell within a world whose loveliness can yet be so intense and so inclusive it is but a step from there to Heaven. To your tired eyes I bring a vision of a different world, so new and clean and fresh you will forget the pain and sorrow that you saw before. Yet this a vision is which you must share with everyone you see, for otherwise you will behold it not. To give this gift is how to make it yours. And God ordained, in loving kindness, that it be for you.

Let us be glad that we can walk the world, and find so many chances to perceive another situation where God’s gift can once again be recognised as ours! And thus will all the vestiges of hell, the secret sins and hidden hates be gone. And all the loveliness which they concealed appear like lawns of Heaven to our sight, to lift us high above the thorny roads we travelled on before the Christ appeared. Hear me, my brothers, hear and join with me. God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content. For you willhear, and you will choose again. And in this choice is everyone made free.

I thank You, Father, for these holy ones who are my brothers as they are Your Sons. My faith in them is Yours. I am as sure that they will come to me as You are sure of what they are, and will forever be. They will accept the gift I offer them, because You gave it me on their behalf. And as I would but do Your holy Will, so will they choose. And I give thanks for them. Salvation’s song will echo through the world with every choice they make. For we are one in purpose, and the end of hell is near.

In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation, and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy. Give me my own, for they belong to You. And can You fail in what is but Your Will? I give You thanks for what my brothers are. And as each one elects to join with me, the song of thanks from earth to Heaven grows from tiny scattered threads of melody to one inclusive chorus from a world redeemed from hell, and giving thanks to You.

And now we say ‘Amen’. For Christ has come to dwell in the abode You set for Him before time was, in calm eternity. The journey closes, ending at the place where it began. No trace of it remains. Not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ from anyone. Thy Will is done, complete and perfectly, and all creation recognises You, and knows You as the only Source it has. Clear in Your likeness does the Light shine forth from everything that lives and moves in You. For we have reached where all of us are one, and we are home, where You would have us be.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 20

Lesson 260

Let me remember God created me.

Father, I did not make myself, although in my insanity I thought I did. Yet, as Your Thought, I have not left my Source, remaining part of Who created me. Your Son, my Father, calls on You today. Let me remember You created me. Let me remember my Identity. And let my sinlessness arise again before Christ’s vision, through which I would look upon my brothers and myself today.

Now is our Source remembered, and Therein we find our true Identity at last. Holy indeed are we, because our Source can know no sin. And we who are His Sons are like each other, and alike to Him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) How did the ego originate, and what is to prevent the separation from happening again?

A) This is unquestionably the most frequently asked question of all, and it seems as if every student of A Course in Miracles has wondered about this at one time or another. We have been impressed over the years by the ingenuity with which Course students have framed this question in many different forms; yet the basic question itself can be restated in this way: “If God is perfect and unified, and has a perfect and unified Son, how could an imperfect thought of separation and division have possibly arisen within such a Mind?”‘

Jesus’ answer to this question in the Course comes within a non-dualistic framework, and will hardly satisfy an intellectually inquisitive mind that demands an answer on its own terms. However, within the dualistic framework that we experience as our reality, the question is really a statement masquerading in question form, “asked” by an ego mind in order to establish its own reality and unique identity. Therefore, the questioner is really saying: “I believe I am here, and now I want you to explain to me how I got here.”

Consciousness, being the first split introduced into the mind of the dreaming Son, is an ego state where a perceiver and a perceived seem to exist as separate “realities.” Consciousness results in a concept of a limited false self that is separate and uncertain, seeming to experience an opposite to the true Self as God created It. And it is this false self that believes it is “here” and “asks” the question about its own seeming origin, thereby seeking to verify it. In truth, however, imperfection cannot emanate from perfection, and an imperfect thought of separation and division cannot arise from the perfect Mind of God’s perfect Son, in which opposites cannot exist. Only in a world of dreams can these absurdities, and the beliefs that foster such uncertainty lead to musings like this.

The question therefore can only be asked by those who believe and experience that they are indeed separate and distinct, and it can only be answered by someone who agrees with this premise that the impossible has in fact happened, and therefore requires and even demands an explanation. Thus, only a dreaming ego would ask such a question, since a Son of God, certain of his Identity in Heaven and awake in God, could not even conceive of the separation which is the basis for asking the question in the first place. And obviously, if in reality the separation never happened once, how could it possibly happen a second time? Therefore, once again, it is a trick question, much like the comedian’s question, “When did you stop beating your wife?” which, if answered, can only incriminate the person responding.

Jesus directly addresses this question two times: The first is found in the text, where he gives a very practical answer to what was originally a question posed by William Thetford, Helen’s colleague and friend, as she was taking down the dictation:

It is reasonable to ask how the mind could ever have made the ego. In fact, it is the best question you could ask, There is, however, no point in giving an answer in terms of the past because the past does not matter, and history would not exist if the same errors were not being repeated in the present (T-4.II.1:1-3).

In other words, why worry about how and why the separation happened in the distant past, when you are still making the same choice to be separate in the present?

The next answer comes in two parts, and is found in the clarification of terms, the appendix to the manual for teachers. Here, Jesus’ answer is much more to the point as it addresses the pseudo-nature of the question itself, and his answer is reflected in our discussion above:

The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, “How did the impossible occur?”, “To what did the impossible happen?”, and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you (C-in.4).Who asks you to define the ego and explain how it arose can be but he who thinks it real, and seeks by definition to ensure that its illusive nature is concealed behind the words that seem to make it so.

There is no definition for a lie that serves to make it true (C-2.2:5-3: 1).

here to represent

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 19

ACIM Text Reading for October 19

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VII. The Saviour’s Vision

Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful, nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognise. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation’s task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world’s concepts are the guilty ‘bad’; the ‘good’ are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the ‘good’ to pardon him the ‘bad’. Nor does he trust the ‘good’ in anyone, believing that the ‘bad’ must lurk behind. This concept emphasises treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the ‘bad’ in you.

You could not recognise your ‘evil’ thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another ‘crime’. You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But shouldone brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed. Your ‘evil’ thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer do you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you give your trust to what is good in him, you give it to the good in you.

In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the ‘baser’ part of you, and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself, when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid That God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.

You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself, which can be interchanged but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself, because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you. For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.

Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him, that you may not be frightened by your ‘evil’ thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself that now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand, that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one that brings the peace of God.

The concept of yourself that now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed, unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace, that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world, instead of as salvation’s enemy?

The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images, because you look on them as through a barrier that dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness, and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release; the sight, the vision and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you, and the universe with them.

Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a saviour to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself, and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon, to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ, and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this one. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.

The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error; that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself that holds him off from you, and you away from him. The sword of judgement is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is, and thus what you must be.

What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable, and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a saviour to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial saviour would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given you to save are but everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are; all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet; the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.

Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the saviour of the Son of God? How would you know his holiness while you set him apart from yours? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within, and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon, that he may be what they expect of him. This is the saviour’s vision; that he see his innocence in all he looks upon, and see his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.

Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not. And from that wish a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you. For seeing can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see, or keep yourself apart and separate.

The saviour’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgement made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognising this, it merely asks, ‘What is the meaning of what I behold?’ Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.

Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear. This is temptation; nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.

Let not the world’s light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the saviour’s vision is withheld and what they see is death. Their saviour stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes, and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, ‘Release My Son!’ be tempted not to listen, when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 19

Lesson 259

Let me remember that there is no sin.

Sin is the only thought that makes the goal of God seem unattainable. What else could blind us to the obvious, and make the strange and the distorted seem more clear? What else but sin engenders our attacks? What else but sin could be the source of guilt, demanding punishment and suffering? And what but sin could be the source of fear, obscuring God’s creation; giving love the attributes of fear and of attack?

Father, I would not be insane today. I would not be afraid of love, nor seek for refuge in its opposite. For love can have no opposite. You are the Source of everything there is. And everything that is remains with You, and You with it.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

 Q) Why does A Course in Miracles use masculine language in denoting the Trinity? Is Jesus a sexist?

A) No, Jesus is not a sexist, nor was the Course’s scribe, Helen Schucman a reverse one. Indeed, A Course in Miracles is written linguistically within the male-dominated Judaeo-Christian tradition, and uses the patriarchal biblical language on which that tradition is based. Consequently, the Course conforms to this religious culture by using Trinitarian terms that are exclusively masculine. It must be understood, however, that the Trinity is neither masculine nor feminine, and the Holy One knows nothing of gender, since It did not create bodies. This point is a further testimony to the difference between the biblical creator-God and the God of A Course in Miracles. In fact, Jesus himself speaks of his use of ego-oriented language:

This course remains within the ego framework, where it is needed….
It uses words, which are symbolic, and cannot express what lies
beyond symbols (manual, p. 73; C-in.3:1,3).

And so it is clear that the Course’s meaning in using this masculine language lies elsewhere. While the form of the Course’s words is the same as the twenty-five-hundred-year-old Western tradition, its content is exactly the opposite. This provides a good example of a principle enunciated twice in the text, that the Holy Spirit does not take our special relationships (the form) away from us, but instead transforms them (by changing their purpose — the content) (text, pp. 333, 351; T-17.IV.2:3-6; T-18.11.6). Therefore, the reader is given a wonderful opportunity to practice forgiveness by having whatever buried judgmental thoughts are unconsciously present be raised to awareness by the Course’s “sexist” language, so that they may now be looked at differently with the Holy Spirit’s help. In this way, a special hate (or love) relationship with patriarchal authorities — religious or secular — may be transformed into a holy relationship, the relationship now having forgiveness and peace as its purpose, instead of judgment and attack.

In like manner, we can understand the Course’s usage of the term Son of God. For two thousand years, it has exclusively been used in Christian theology to denote only Jesus, the biblical God’s only begotten Son, and Second Person of the Trinity. Moreover, Jesus’ specialness was accentuated by St. Paul’s relegating the rest of humanity to the status of “adopted sons” of God (Galatians 4:4). To accentuate the point that he is our equal, Jesus in A Course in Miracles uses the same term that heretofore had excluded everyone except himself. Now, however, it denotes all people: God’s children who yet believe they are bodies and separate from their Source and therefore different from Him. And even more specifically, the term Son of God denotes the students who are reading and studying A Course in Miracles, a usage clearly made regardless of their gender.

This term is thus deliberately used to help correct two thousand years of what A Course in Miracles sees as Christianity’s distortion of Jesus’ basic message, in this case the perfect equality and unity of the Sonship of God. And so in the Course Jesus presents himself as no different from anyone else in reality (although certainly he is different from us in time). Therefore, to state it once again, the same term — Son of God — that was used only for Jesus is now used for all of us. Moreover, the term is also used to denote Christ, God’s pre-separation creation, His one Son. Again, we see usage of the same form as in traditional Christianity, but with a totally different content. The phrase Son of Godcan also be easily understood as synonymous with child, a term which is also often used in the Course.

The reinterpretation of Son of God from exclusive to totally inclusive is crucial to the Course’s thought system. And because of Jesus’ reason for using this term, students — men and women alike — should be vigilant against the temptation to change the Course’s “offensive” language. While such practice is understandable, it does serve to undermine one of Jesus’ pedagogical purposes. It would be much more in keeping with the teachings of A Course in Miracles to leave the form as it is, and change one’s mind instead. In these circumstances, one would do well to paraphrase a famous line from the text: Therefore, seek not to change the course, but choose to change your mind about the course (text, p. 415; T-2l.in.1:7). Therefore, since the Course’s form will not be changed, students would be wise to use their reactions as a classroom in which they can learn to forgive, not only Jesus, Helen, or A Course in Miracles itself, but also all those in the past (or present) who have been perceived as treating them or others unfairly.

One final note on the subject of the Course’s masculine language: It has long been a grammatical convention that pronouns referring back to a neuter noun, such as “one” or “person,” take the masculine form of “he.” Clearly, since a central teaching of A Course in Miracles is that we are not bodies — and so the members of the Trinity are not bodies either — the issue, once again, is merely one of form or style.

teach not that i died in vain

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 18

ACIM Text Reading for October 18

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VI. Recognising the Spirit

You see the flesh or recognise the spirit. There is no compromise between the two. If one is real the other must be false, for what is real denies its opposite. There is no choice in vision but this one. What you decide in this determines all you see and think is real and hold as true. On this one choice does all your world depend, for here have you established what you are, as flesh or spirit in your own belief. If you choose flesh, you never will escape the body as your own reality, for you have chosen that you want it so. But choose the spirit, and all Heaven bends to touch your eyes and bless your holy sight, that you may see the world of flesh no more except to heal and comfort and to bless.

Salvation is undoing. If you choose to see the body, you behold a world of separation, unrelated things, and happenings that make no sense at all. This one appears and disappears in death; that one is doomed to suffering and loss. And no one is exactly as he was an instant previous, nor will he be the same as he is now an instant hence. Who could have trust where so much change is seen, for who is worthy if he be but dust? Salvation is undoing of all this. For constancy arises in the sight of those whose eyes salvation has released from looking at the cost of keeping guilt, because they chose to let it go instead.

Salvation does not ask that you behold the spirit and perceive the body not. It merely asks that this should be your choice. For you can see the body without help, but do not understand how to behold a world apart from it. It is your world salvation will undo, and let you see another world your eyes could never find. Be not concerned how this could ever be. You do not understand how what you see arose to meet your sight. For if you did, it would be gone. The veil of ignorance is drawn across the evil and the good, and must be passed that both may disappear, so that perception finds no hiding place. How is this done? It is not done at all. What could there be within the universe that God created that must still be done?

Only in arrogance could you conceive that you must make the way to Heaven plain. The means are given you by which to see the world that will replace the one you made. Your will be done! In Heaven as on earth this is forever true. It matters not where you believe you are, nor what you think the truth about yourself must really be. It makes no difference what you look upon, nor what you choose to feel or think or wish. For God Himself has said, ‘Your will be done’. And it is done to you accordingly.

You who believe that you can choose to see the Son of God as you would have him be, forget not that no concept of yourself will stand against the truth of what you are. Undoing truth would be impossible. But concepts are not difficult to change. One vision. clearly seen, that does not fit the picture as it was perceived before will change the world for eyes that learn to see, because the concept of the self has changed.

Are you invulnerable? Then the world is harmless in your sight. Do you forgive? Then is the world forgiving, for you have forgiven it its trespasses, and so it looks on you with eyes that see as yours. Are you a body? So is all the world perceived as treacherous, and out to kill. Are you a spirit, deathless, and without the promise of corruption and the stain of sin upon you? So the world is seen as stable, fully worthy of your trust; a happy place to rest in for a while, where nothing need be feared, but only loved. Who is unwelcome to the kind in heart? And what could hurt the truly innocent?

Your will be done, you holy child of God. It does not matter if you think you are in earth or Heaven. What your Father wills of you can never change. The truth in you remains as radiant as a star, as pure as light, as innocent as love itself. And you are worthy that your will be done!

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 18

Lesson 258

Let me remember that my goal is God.

All that is needful is to train our minds to overlook all little senseless aims, and to remember that our goal is God. His memory is hidden in our minds, obscured but by our pointless little goals which offer nothing, and do not exist. Shall we continue to allow God’s grace to shine in unawareness, while the toys and trinkets of the world are sought instead? God is our only goal, our only Love. We have no aim but to remember Him.

Our goal is but to follow in the way that leads to You. We have no goal but this. What could we want but to remember You? What could we seek but our Identity?

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If God has one Son, why does A Course in Miracles use the term Sons of God?

A) Many times Jesus uses the plural to address the children of God who believe they are separate and many. This is another example of Jesus’ flexible use of language so that he can meet his students at a level of separation or duality they can accept and understand. But this should not be taken to mean that there is individuality and separation in Heaven. In reality, as A Course in Miracles repeatedly asserts, there can be only one Son, since Unity can only create unity, and multiplicity cannot originate from Oneness. This is underscored in these important passages from the text and workbook:

It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its oneness transcends the sum of its parts (T-2.VII.6:1-3).We are creation; we the Sons of God. We seem to be discrete, and unaware of our eternal unity with Him. Yet back of all our doubts, past all our fears, there still is certainty.  For love remains with all its Thoughts, its sureness being theirs. God’s memory is in our holy minds, which know their oneness and their unity with their Creator (W-pII.11.4:1-5).

Therefore the term Sons of God is used for convenience when Jesus is addressing his students as they believe they are. On the other hand, Son of God is the term used to denote who we truly are as Christ, the Identity of Oneness we shall awaken to after our dream of multiplicity is undone.

accept only love

 

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

ACIM Text Reading for October 17

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

V. Self-Concept versus Self

The learning of the world is built upon a concept of the self adjusted to the world’s reality. It fits it well. For this an image is that suits a world of shadows and illusions. Here it walks at home, where what it sees is one with it. The building of a concept of the self is what the learning of the world is for. This is its purpose; that you come without a self, and make one as you go along. And by the time you reach ‘maturity’ you have perfected it, to meet the world on equal terms, at one with its demands.

A concept of the self is made by you. It bears no likeness to yourself at all. It is an idol, made to take the place of your reality as Son of God. The concept of the self the world would teach is not the thing that it appears to be. For it is made to serve two purposes, but one of which the mind can recognise. The first presents the face of innocence, the aspect acted on. It is this face that smiles and charms and even seems to love. It searches for companions and it looks, at times with pity, on the suffering, and sometimes offers solace. It believes that it is good within an evil world.

This aspect can grow angry, for the world is wicked and unable to provide the love and shelter innocence deserves. And so this face is often wet with tears at the injustices the world accords to those who would be generous and good. This aspect never makes the first attack. But every day a hundred little things make small assaults upon its innocence, provoking it to irritation, and at last to open insult and abuse.

The face of innocence the concept of the self so proudly wears can tolerate attack in self-defence, for is it not a well-known fact the world deals harshly with defenceless innocence? No one who makes a picture of himself omits this face, for he has need of it. The other side he does not want to see. Yet it is here the learning of the world has set its sights, for it is here the world’s ‘reality’ is set, to see to it the idol lasts.

Beneath the face of innocence there is a lesson that the concept of the self was made to teach. It is a lesson in a terrible displacement, and a fear so devastating that the face that smiles above it must forever look away, lest it perceive the treachery it hides. The lesson teaches this: ‘I am the thing you made of me, and as you look on me, you stand condemned because of what I am’. On this conception of the self the world smiles with approval, for it guarantees the pathways of the world are safely kept, and those who walk on them will not escape.

Here is the central lesson that ensures your brother is condemned eternally. For what you are has now become his sin. For this is no forgiveness possible. No longer does it matter what he does, for your accusing finger points to him, unwavering and deadly in its aim. It points to you as well, but this is kept still deeper in the mists below the face of innocence. And in these shrouded vaults are all his sins and yours preserved and kept in darkness, where they cannot be perceived as errors, which the light would surely show. You can be neither blamed for what you are, nor can you change the things it makes you do. Your brother then is symbol of your sins to you who are but silently, and yet with ceaseless urgency, condemning still your brother for the hated thing you are.

Concepts are learned. They are not natural. Apart from learning they do not exist. They are not given, so they must be made. Not one of them is true, and many come from feverish imaginations, hot with hatred and distortions born of fear. What is a concept but a thought to which its maker gives a meaning of his own? Concepts maintain the world. But they can not be used to demonstrate the world is real. For all of them are made within the world, born in its shadow, growing in its ways and finally ‘maturing’ in its thought. They are ideas of idols, painted with the brushes of the world, which cannot make a single picture representing truth.

A concept of the self is meaningless, for no one here can see what it is for, and therefore cannot picture what it is. Yet is all learning that the world directs begun and ended with the single aim of teaching you this concept of yourself, that you will choose to follow this world’s laws, and never seek to go beyond its roads nor realise the way you see yourself. Now must the Holy Spirit find a way to help you see this concept of the self must be undone, if any peace of mind is to be given you. Nor can it be unlearned except by lessons aimed to teach that you are something else. For otherwise, you would be asked to make exchange of what you now believe for total loss of self, and greater terror would arise in you.

Thus are the Holy Spirit’s lesson plans arranged in easy steps, that though there be some lack of ease at times and some distress, there is no shattering of what was learned, but just a re-translation of what seems to be the evidence on its behalf. Let us consider, then, what proof there is that you are what your brother made of you. For even though you do not yet perceive that this is what you think, you surely learned by now that you behave as if it were. Does he react for you? And does he know exactly what would happen? Can he see your future and ordain, before it comes, what you should do in every circumstance? He must have made the world as well as you to have such prescience in the things to come.

That you are what your brother made of you seems most unlikely. Even if he did, who gave the face of innocence to you? Is this your contribution? Who is, then, the ‘you’ who made it? And who is deceived by all your goodness, and attacks it so? Let us forget the concept’s foolishness, and merely think of this; there are two parts to what you think yourself to be. If one were generated by your brother, who was there to make the other? And from whom must something be kept hidden? If the world be evil, there is still no need to hide what you are made of. Who is there to see? And what but is attacked could need defence?

Perhaps the reason why this concept must be kept in darkness is that, in the light, the one who would not think it true is you. And what would happen to the world you see, if all its underpinnings were removed? Your concept of the world depends upon this concept of the self. And both would go, if either one were ever raised to doubt. The Holy Spirit does not seek to throw you into panic. So He merely asks if just a little question might be raised.

There is an alternate about the thing that you must be. You might, for instance, be the thing you chose to have your brother be. This shifts the concept of the self from what is wholly passive, and at least makes way for active choice, and some acknowledgement that interaction must have entered in. There is some understanding that you chose for both of you, and what he represents has meaning that was given it by you. It also shows some glimmering of sight into perception’s law that what you see reflects the state of the perceiver’s mind. Yet who was it that did the choosing first? If you are what you chose your brother be, alternatives were there to choose among, and someone must have first decided on the one to choose, and let the other go.

Although this step has gains, it does not yet approach a basic question. Something must have gone before these concepts of the self. And something must have done the learning which gave rise to them. Nor can this be explained by either view. The main advantage of the shifting to the second from the first is that you somehow entered in the choice by your decision. But this gain is paid in almost equal loss, for now you stand accused of guilt for what your brother is. And you must share his guilt, because you chose it for him in the image of your own. While only he was treacherous before, now must you be condemned along with him.

The concept of the self has always been the great preoccupation of the world. And everyone believes that he must find the answer to the riddle of himself. Salvation can be seen as nothing more than the escape from concepts. It does not concern itself with content of the mind, but with the simple statement that it thinks. And what can think has choice, and can be shown that different thoughts have different consequence. So it can learn that everything it thinks reflects the deep confusion that it feels about how it was made and what it is. And vaguely does the concept of the self appear to answer what it does not know.

Seek not your Self in symbols. There can be no concept that can stand for what you are. What matters it which concept you accept while you perceive a self that interacts with evil, and reacts to wicked things? Your concept of yourself will still remain quite meaningless. And you will not perceive that you can interact but with yourself. To see a guilty world is but the sign your learning has been guided by the world, and you behold it as you see yourself. The concept of the self embraces all you look upon, and nothing is outside of this perception. If you can be hurt by anything, you see a picture of your secret wishes. Nothing more than this. And in your suffering of any kind you see your own concealed desire to kill.

You will make many concepts of the self as learning goes along. Each one will show the changes in your own relationships, as your perception of yourself is changed. There will be some confusion every time there is a shift, but be you thankful that the learning of the world is loosening its grasp upon your mind. And be you sure and happy in the confidence that it will go at last, and leave your mind at peace. The role of the accuser will appear in many places and in many forms. And each will seem to be accusing you. Yet have no fear it will not be undone.

The world can teach no images of you unless you want to learn them. There will come a time when images have all gone by, and you will see you know not what you are. It is to this unsealed and open mind that truth returns, unhindered and unbound. Where concepts of the self have been laid by is truth revealed exactly as it is. When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognised as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this:

I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself.

Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 17

Lesson 257

Let me remember what my purpose is.

If I forget my goal I can be but confused, unsure of what I am, and thus conflicted in my actions. No one can serve contradicting goals and serve them well. Nor can he function without deep distress and great depression. Let us therefore be determined to remember what we want today, that we may unify our thoughts and actions meaningfully, and achieve only what God would have us do this day.

Father, forgiveness is Your chosen means for our salvation. Let us not forget today that we can have no will but Yours. And thus our purpose must be Yours as well, if we would reach the peace You will for us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If God has one Son, why does A Course in Miracles use the term Sons of God?

A) Many times Jesus uses the plural to address the children of God who believe they are separate and many. This is another example of Jesus’ flexible use of language so that he can meet his students at a level of separation or duality they can accept and understand. But this should not be taken to mean that there is individuality and separation in Heaven. In reality, as A Course in Miracles repeatedly asserts, there can be only one Son, since Unity can only create unity, and multiplicity cannot originate from Oneness. This is underscored in these important passages from the text and workbook:

It should especially be noted that God has only one Son. If all His creations are His Sons, every one must be an integral part of the whole Sonship. The Sonship in its oneness transcends the sum of its parts (T-2.VII.6:1-3).We are creation; we the Sons of God. We seem to be discrete, and unaware of our eternal unity with Him. Yet back of all our doubts, past all our fears, there still is certainty.  For love remains with all its Thoughts, its sureness being theirs. God’s memory is in our holy minds, which know their oneness and their unity with their Creator (W-pII.11.4:1-5).

Therefore the term Sons of God is used for convenience when Jesus is addressing his students as they believe they are. On the other hand, Son of God is the term used to denote who we truly are as Christ, the Identity of Oneness we shall awaken to after our dream of multiplicity is undone.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 16

ACIM Text Reading for October 16

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

IV. The Real Alternative

There is a tendency to think the world can offer consolation and escape from problems that its purpose is to keep. Why should this be? Because it is a place where choice among illusions seems to be the only choice. And you are in control of outcomes of your choosing. Thus you think, within the narrow band from birth to death, a little time is given you to use for you alone; a time when everyone conflicts with you, but you can choose which road will lead you out of conflict, and away from difficulties that concern you not. Yet they are your concern. How, then, can you escape from them by leaving them behind? What must go with you, you will take with you whatever road you choose to walk along.

Real choice is no illusion. But the world has none to offer. All its roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death. There is no choice in its alternatives. Seek not escape from problems here. The world was made that problems could not beescaped. Be not deceived by all the different names its roads are given. They have but one end. And each is but the means to gain that end, for it is here that all its roads will lead, however differently they seem to start; however differently they seem to go. Their end is certain, for there is no choice among them. All of them will lead to death. On some you travel gaily for a while, before the bleakness enters. And on some the thorns are felt at once. The choice is not what will the ending be, but when it comes.

There is no choice where every end is sure. Perhaps you would prefer to try them all, before you really learn they are but one. The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when everyone begins to see how like they are to one another. 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. 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.

Why would you seek to try another road, another person or another place, when you have learned the way the lesson starts, but do not yet perceive what it is for? Its purpose is the answer to the search that all must undertake who still believe there is another answer to be found. Learn now, without despair, there is no hope of answer in the world. But do not judge the lesson that is but begun with this. Seek not another signpost in the world that seems to point to still another road. No longer look for hope where there is none. Make fast your learning now, and understand you but waste time unless you go beyond what you have learned to what is yet to learn. For from this lowest point will learning lead to heights of happiness, in which you see the purpose of the lesson shining clear, and perfectly within your learning grasp.

Who would be willing to be turned away from all the roadways of the world, unless he understood their real futility? Is it not needful that he should begin with this, to seek another way instead? For while he sees a choice where there is none, what power of decision can he use? The great release of power must begin with learning where it really has a use. And what decision has power if it be applied in situations without choice?

The learning that the world can offer but one choice, no matter what its form may be, is the beginning of acceptance that there is a real alternative instead. To fight against this step is to defeat your purpose here. You did not come to learn to find a road the world does not contain. The search for different pathways in the world is but the search for different forms of truth. And this would keep the truth from being reached.

Think not that happiness is ever found by following a road away from it. This makes no sense, and cannot be the way. To you who seem to find this course to be too difficult to learn, let me repeat that to achieve a goal you must proceed in its direction, not away from it. And every road that leads the other way will not advance the purpose to be found. If this be difficult to understand, then is this course impossible to learn. But only then. For otherwise, it is a simple teaching in the obvious.

There is a choice that you have power to make when you have seen the real alternatives. Until that point is reached you have no choice, and you can but decide how you would choose the better to deceive yourself again. This course attempts to teach no more than that the power of decision cannot lie in choosing different forms of what is still the same illusion and the same mistake. All choices in the world depend on this; you choose between your brother and yourself, and you will gain as much as he will lose, and what you lose is what is given him. How utterly opposed to truth is this, when all the lesson’s purpose is to teach that what your brother loses you have lost, and what he gains is what is given you.

He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love. No pathway in the world can lead to Him, nor any worldly goal be one with His. What road in all the world will lead within, when every road was made to separate the journey from the purpose it must have unless it be but futile wandering? All roads that lead away from what you are will lead you to confusion and despair. Yet has He never left His Thoughts to die, without their Source forever in themselves.

He has not left His Thoughts! He could no more depart from them than they could keep Him out. In unity with Him do they abide, and in their oneness both are kept complete. There is no road that leads away from Him. A journey from yourself does not exist. How foolish and insane it is to think that there could be a road with such an aim! Where could it go? And how could you be made to travel on it, walking there without your own reality at one with you? Forgive yourself your madness, and forget all senseless journeys and all goal-less aims. They have no meaning. You can not escape from what you are. For God is merciful, and did not let His Son abandon Him. For what He is be thankful, for in that is your escape from madness and from death. Nowhere but where He is can you be found. There is no path that does not lead to Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 16

Lesson 256

God is the only goal I have today.

The way to God is through forgiveness here. There is no other way. If sin had not been cherished by the mind, what need would there have been to find the way to where you are? Who would still be uncertain? Who could be unsure of who he is? And who would yet remain asleep, in heavy clouds of doubt about the holiness of him whom God created sinless? Here we can but dream. But we can dream we have forgiven him in whom all sin remains impossible, and it is this we choose to dream today. God is our goal; forgiveness is the means by which our minds return to Him at last.

And so, our Father, would we come to You in Your appointed way. We have no goal except to hear Your Voice, and find the way Your sacred Word has pointed out to us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What are the creations spoken of in A Course in Miracles?

A) Creations are the non-spatial, non-temporal, and non- physical extensions of Christ, Who creates as does His Source. As we have just seen, it is the nature of the Love of Heaven to extend itself, what the Course refers to as the process of creation. Since Christ is One with His Creator and like Him in all things, He too extends His Love in creation, as we explained in the previous question. It is these extensions of Christ’s Love that A Course in Miracles terms creations. To restate this important point, our creations have no parallel with anything in the physical world, just as God’s creation, Christ, has no parallel with anything in the physical world, including homo sapiens. Similarly, our function of creating in Heaven has nothing in common with activity the world usually considers to be “creative,” such as artistic creativity, creating a baby, having a creative idea, etc.

As extensions of Christ, the creations can be understood as being part of the Second Person of the Course’s Trinity, our “sons” as it were, as seen in these two passages from the text:

God wants only His Son because His Son is His only treasure. You want your creations as He wants His. Your creations are your gift to the Holy Trinity, created in gratitude for your creation. They do not leave you any more than you left your Creator, but they extend your creation as God extended Himself to you (T-8.VI.5:1-4).Your creations belong in you, as you belong in God. You are part of God, as your sons are part of His Sons. To create is to love. Love extends outward simply because it cannot be contained. Being limitless it does not stop. It creates forever, but not in time. God’s creations have always been, because He has always been. Your creations have always been, because you can create only as God creates. Eternity is yours, because He created you eternal (T-7.1.3).

In keeping with his use of metaphor, Jesus sometimes speaks of the creations of Christ in language reminiscent of cheerleaders encouraging the separated Sons to return home, as in this passage:

Heaven waits silently, and your creations are holding out their hands to help you cross and welcome them. For it is they you seek. You seek but for your own completion, and it is they who render you complete (T-16.IV.8:1-3).

this is practical course


A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 15

ACIM Text Reading for October 15

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

III. The Self-Accused

Only the self-accused condemn. As you prepare to make a choice that will result in different outcomes, there is first one thing that must be over-learned. It must become a habit of response so typical of everything you do that it becomes your first response to all temptation, and to every situation that occurs. Learn this, and learn it well, for it is here delay of happiness is shortened by a span of time you cannot realise. You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own. Whatever form his sins appear to take, it but obscures the fact that you believe it to be yours, and therefore meriting a ‘just’ attack.

Why should his sins be sins, if you did not believe they could not be forgiven in you? Why are they real in him, if you did not believe that they are your reality? And why do you attack them everywhere except you hate yourself? Are you a sin? You answer ‘yes’ whenever you attack, for by attack do you assert that you are guilty, and must give as you deserve. And what can you deserve but what you are? If you did not believe that you deserved attack, it never would occur to you to give attack to anyone at all. Why should you? What would be the gain to you? What could the outcome be that you would want? And how could murder bring you benefit?

Sins are in bodies. They are not perceived in minds. They are not seen as purposes, but actions. Bodies act, and minds do not. And therefore must the body be at fault for what it does. It is not seen to be a passive thing, obeying your commands, and doing nothing of itself at all. If you are sin you are a body, for the mind acts not. And purpose must be in the body, not the mind. The body must act on its own, and motivate itself. If you are sin you lock the mind within the body, and you give its purpose to its prison house, which acts instead of it. A jailer does not follow orders, but enforces orders on the prisoner.

Yet is the body prisoner, and not the mind. The body thinks no thoughts. It has no power to learn, to pardon, nor enslave. It gives no orders that the mind need serve, nor sets conditions that it must obey. It holds in prison but the willing mind that would abide in it. It sickens at the bidding of the mind that would become its prisoner. And it grows old and dies, because that mind is sick within itself. Learning is all that causes change. And so the body, where no learning can occur, could never change unless the mind preferred the body change in its appearances, to suit the purpose given by the mind. For mind can learn, and there is all change made.

The mind that thinks it is a sin has but one purpose; that the body be the source of sin, to keep it in the prison house it chose and guards and holds itself at bay, a sleeping prisoner to the snarling dogs of hate and evil, sickness and attack; of pain and age, of grief and suffering. Here are the thoughts of sacrifice preserved, for here guilt rules, and orders that the world be like itself; a place where nothing can find mercy, nor survive the ravages of fear except in murder and in death. For here are you made sin, and sin cannot abide the joyous and the free, for they are enemies which sin must kill. In death is sin preserved, and those who think that they are sin must die for what they think they are.

Let us be glad that you will see what you believe, and that it has been given you to change what you believe. The body will but follow. It can never lead you where you would not be. It does not guard your sleep, nor interfere with your awakening. Release your body from imprisonment, and you will see no one as prisoner to what you have escaped. You will not want to hold in guilt your chosen enemies, nor keep in chains, to the illusion of a changing love, the ones you think are friends.

The innocent release in gratitude for their release. And what they see upholds their freedom from imprisonment and death. Open your mind to change, and there will be no ancient penalty exacted from your brother or yourself. For God has said there is no sacrifice that can be asked; there is no sacrifice that can be made.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 15

Lesson 255

This day I choose to spend in perfect peace.

It does not seem to me that I can choose to have but peace today. And yet, my God assures me that His Son is like Himself. Let me this day have faith in Him Who says I am God’s Son. And let the peace I choose be mine today bear witness to the truth of what He says. God’s Son can have no cares, and must remain forever in the peace of Heaven. In His Name, I give today to finding what my Father wills for me, accepting it as mine, and giving it to all my Father’s Sons, along with me.

And so, my Father, would I pass this day with You. Your Son has not forgotten You. The peace You gave him still is in his mind, and it is there I choose to spend today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What does A Course in Miracles mean by creation as a process?

A) Since creation is outside the temporal and spatial realms, it is not a process that can be understood by the human brain, conditioned by thoughts of time and space. Creation, as understood by A Course in Miracles, is synonymous with non-spatial extension, the “process” whereby God extends His Being and His Love in an ongoing outpouring of His Self. This is an outpouring, however, that never leaves His Mind and thus is never outside Him. Since God’s creation — Christ — shares in the attributes of its Creator, Christ likewise creates in the same process of extension.

As the Course explains:

To extend is a fundamental aspect of God which He gave to His Son. In the creation, God extended Himself to His creations and imbued them with the same loving Will to create (T-2.1.1:1-2).
… if God created you by extending Himself as you, you can only extend yourself as He did. Only joy increases forever, since joy and eternity are inseparable. God extends outward beyond limits and beyond time, and you who are co-creator with Him extend His Kingdom forever and beyond limit (T-7.1.5:2-4).

The Son’s creations (to be defined in the next question) remain within the One Mind of Christ, as Christ remains within the One Mind of God. Oneness naturally can only remain as One, as this passage from the workbook expresses:
God’s Thoughts [Christ] are given all the power that their own Creator has. For He would add to Love by its extension. Thus His Son shares in creation, and must therefore share in power to create. What God has willed to be forever One will still be One when time is over; and will not be changed throughout the course of time, remaining as it was before the thought of time began (W-pII.11.2).
Again, what is referred to below as the “circle of creation” cannot be understood in physical terms, or in what is labeled as creativity in the world. Here in this world, creator and creation are separate; in Heaven they are one — a state that is beyond our understanding. The following passages from the text make that clear:
The circle of creation has no end. Its starting and its ending are the same. But in itself it holds the universe of all creation, without beginning and without an end (T-28.11.1:6-8).
Your function is to add to God’s treasure by creating yours. His Will to you is His Will for you. He would not withhold creation from you because His joy is in it. You cannot find joy except as God does. His joy lay in creating you, and He extends His Fatherhood to you so that you can extend yourself as He did. You do not understand this because you do not understand Him. No one who does not accept his function can understand what it is, and no one can accept his function unless he knows what he is (T-8.VI.6:1-7).

Forgiveness, which we can understand, is our function while believing we are here in the world, and is the process by which we learn to accept our Identity as Christ. It is this acceptance, again, which allows us finally to understand reality and what it means to be as God created us.

not his will you be crucified

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 13

ACIM Text Reading for October 13

Chapter 31

THE FINAL VISION

I. The Simplicity of Salvation

How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all. Can this be hard to learn by anyone who wants it to be true? Only unwillingness to learn it could make such an easy lesson difficult. How hard is it to see that what is false can not be true, and what is true can not be false? You can no longer say that you perceive no differences in false and true. You have been told exactly how to tell one from the other, and just what to do if you become confused. Why, then, do you persist in learning not such simple things?

There is a reason. But confuse it not with difficulty in the simple things salvation asks you learn. It teaches but the very obvious. It merely goes from one apparent lesson to the next, in easy steps that lead you gently from one to another, with no strain at all. This cannot be confusing, yet you are confused. For somehow you believe that what is totally confused is easier to learn and understand. What you have taught yourself is such a giant learning feat it is indeed incredible. But you accomplished it because you wanted to, and did not pause in diligence to judge it hard to learn or too complex to grasp.

No one who understands what you have learned, how carefully you learned it, and the pains to which you went to practise and repeat the lessons endlessly, in every form you could conceive of them, could ever doubt the power of your learning skill. There is no greater power in the world. The world was made by it, and even now depends on nothing else. The lessons you have taught yourself have been so over-learned and fixed they rise like heavy curtains to obscure the simple and the obvious. Say not you cannot learn them. For your power to learn is strong enough to teach you that your will is not your own, your thoughts do not belong to you, and even you are someone else.

Who could maintain that lessons such as these are easy? Yet you have learned more than this. You have continued, taking every step, however difficult, without complaint, until a world was built that suited you. And every lesson that makes up the world arises from the first accomplishment of learning; an enormity so great the Holy Spirit’s Voice seems small and still before its magnitude. The world began with one strange lesson, powerful enough to render God forgotten, and His Son an alien to himself, in exile from the home where God Himself established him. You who have taught yourself the Son of God is guilty, say not that you cannot learn the simple things salvation teaches you!

Learning is an ability you made and gave yourself. It was not made to do the Will of God, but to uphold a wish that it could be opposed, and that a will apart from it was yet more real than it. And this has learning sought to demonstrate, and you have learned what it was made to teach. Now does your ancient over-learning stand implacable before the Voice of truth, and teach you that Its lessons are not true; too hard to learn, too difficult to see, and too opposed to what is really true. Yet you will learn them, for their learning is the only purpose for your learning skill the Holy Spirit sees in all the world. His simple lessons in forgiveness have a power mightier than yours, because they call from God and from your Self to you.

Is this a little Voice, so small and still It cannot rise above the senseless noise of sounds that have no meaning? God willed not His Son forget Him. And the power of His Will is in the Voice That speaks for Him. Which lesson will you learn? What outcome is inevitable, sure as God, and far beyond all doubt and question? Can it be your little learning, strange in outcome and incredible in difficulty will withstand the simple lessons being taught to you in every moment of each day, since time began and learning had been made?

The lessons to be learned are only two. Each has its outcome in a different world. And each world follows surely from its source. The certain outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guilty is the world you see. It is a world of terror and despair. Nor is there hope of happiness in it. There is no plan for safety you can make that ever will succeed. There is no joy that you can seek for here and hope to find. Yet this is not the only outcome which your learning can produce. However much you may have over-learned your chosen task, the lesson that reflects the Love of God is stronger still. And you will learn God’s Son is innocent, and see another world.

The outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guiltless is a world in which there is no fear, and everything is lit with hope and sparkles with a gentle friendliness. Nothing but calls to you in soft appeal to be your friend, and let it join with you. And never does a call remain unheard, misunderstood, nor left unanswered in the self- same tongue in which the call was made. And you will understand it was this call that everyone and everything within the world has always made, but you had not perceived it as it was. And now you see you were mistaken. You had been deceived by forms the call was hidden in. And so you did not hear it, and had lost a friend who always wanted to be part of you. The soft, eternal calling of each part of God’s creation to the whole is heard throughout the world this second lesson brings.

There is no living thing that does not share the universal Will that it be whole, and that you do not leave its call unheard. Without your answer is it left to die, as it is saved from death when you have heard its calling as the ancient call to life, and understood that it is but your own. The Christ in you remembers God with all the certainty with which He knows His Love. But only if His Son is innocent can He be Love. For God were fear indeed if he whom He created innocent could be a slave to guilt. God’s perfect Son remembers his creation. But in guilt he has forgotten what he really is.

The fear of God results as surely from the lesson that His Son is guilty as God’s Love must be remembered when he learns his innocence. For hate must father fear, and look upon its father as itself. How wrong are you who fail to hear the call that echoes past each seeming call to death, that sings behind each murderous attack and pleads that love restore the dying world. You do not understand Who calls to you beyond each form of hate; each call to war. Yet you will recognise Him as you give Him answer in the language that He calls. He will appear when you have answered Him, and you will know in Him that God is Love.

What is temptation but a wish to make the wrong decision on what you would learn, and have an outcome that you do not want? It is the recognition that it is a state of mind unwanted that becomes the means whereby the choice is reassessed; another outcome seen to be preferred. You are deceived if you believe you want disaster and disunity and pain. Hear not the call for this within yourself. But listen, rather, to the deeper call beyond it that appeals for peace and joy. And all the world will give you joy and peace. For as you hear, you answer. And behold! Your answer is the proof of what you learned. Its outcome is the world you look upon.

Let us be still an instant, and forget all things we ever learned, all thoughts we had, and every preconception that we hold of what things mean and what their purpose is. Let us remember not our own ideas of what the world is for. We do not know. Let every image held of everyone be loosened from our minds and swept away.

Be innocent of judgement, unaware of any thoughts of evil or of good that ever crossed your mind of anyone. Now do you know him not. But you are free to learn of him, and learn of him anew. Now is he born again to you, and you are born again to him, without the past that sentenced him to die, and you with him. Now is he free to live as you are free, because an ancient learning passed away, and left a place for truth to be reborn.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 13

Lesson 253

My Self is ruler of the universe.

It is impossible that anything should come to me unbidden by myself. Even in this world, it is I who rule my destiny. What happens is what I desire. What does not occur is what I do not want to happen. This must I accept. For thus am I led past this world to my creations, children of my will, in Heaven where my holy Self abides with them and Him Who has created me.

You are the Self Whom You created Son, creating like Yourself and One with You. My Self, which rules the universe, is but Your Will in perfect union with my own, which can but offer glad assent to Yours, that it may be extended to Itself.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If God is not a person, why does Jesus portray Him that way? This is confusing.

A) This question goes to the heart of a very important issue for students of A Course in Miracles: Jesus’ metaphoric use of language. It is a source of great misunderstanding for students, both in terms of understanding what Jesus is teaching in the Course, as well as in applying its principles in their everyday lives. The language of the Course is clearly dualistic, symbolic, and metaphoric — as indeed all language must be — and there are numerous places in the Course where Jesus explains that he must use the language of illusion — i.e., duality — in order for his students to understand the truths he is teaching. He says, for example, in the context of the newly born holy relationship:

Of all the messages you have received and failed to understand, this course alone is open to your understanding and can be understood. This is your language. You do not understand it yet only because your whole communication is like a baby’s. The sounds a baby makes and what he hears are highly unreliable, meaning different things to him at different times. Neither the sounds he hears nor sights he sees are stable yet…. Yet a holy relationship, so recently reborn itself from an unholy relationship, and yet more ancient than the old illusion it has replaced, is like a baby now in its rebirth. Still in this infant is your vision returned to you, and he will speak the language you can understand (T-22.1.6:1-5; 7:2-3; italics ours in 7:3).

We all have experienced this same need Jesus is describing here. When speaking with children we use words and concepts that are appropriate to the child’s level of understanding. Even if the form of what we say is not always literally true, the content of our love and desire to be helpful is truly genuine.  And later in the text, speaking of the Oneness of Christ that teaches us from within our separated minds, Jesus makes the same point:

Since you believe that you are separate, Heaven presents itself to you as separate, too. Not that it is in truth, but that the link that has been given you to join the truth may reach to you through what you understand…. Yet must It [0neness] use the language that this mind can understand, in the condition in which it thinks it is [the dualistic state of separation). And It must use all learning to transfer illusions to the truth, taking all false ideas of what you are, and leading you beyond them to the truth that is beyond them (T-25.1. 5:1-2; 7:4-5; italics ours in 7:4).

Since, as we have already seen, there is no way Jesus can communicate to us what God our Creator and Source truly is like, he must resort to the language of myth and metaphor. These are the symbols that we — identified as bodies — can understand. And so throughout A Course in Miracles, God is referred to as a body since we cannot even think of Him without one (text, p. 364; T-18.VIll. 1:7). He is called “Father,” and portrayed with Arms, Hands, and a Voice, and having feelings of loneliness and incompletion. It is even implied that God has tear ducts, since He cries over His Sons who are separated from Him. Clearly, the non-dualistic God we have described cannot possess these traits or bodily parts. Moreover, the true God does not think, as we experience thinking. Nor can He really have a plan of Atonement as a response to the illusion of separation when, as described in the Course, He creates the Holy Spirit. The apparent contradiction here is resolved when we understand, again, that Jesus is speaking to us on the anthropomorphic level we can understand, a wonderful example of the principle he enunciates early in the text:

… a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear (T-2.IV.5:3).

Students of A Course in Miracles must be wary of falling into the trap of taking literally what is meant figuratively. A good rule of thumb is to recall that only non-duality is real. In contrast, duality is the illusion of separation, as can be seen in this paraphrase of a sentence from the manual in which we substitute the word duality for death, a passage from which we shall quote more fully in a later question:

Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which duality plays a part (manual, p. 64; M-27.7: 1)

Any passage in A Course in Miracles where Jesus speaks of God doing anything, of having any characteristics of homo sapiens — anthropomorphisms — is inherently dualistic and therefore is a metaphor to express the abstract and non-specific Love of God that is beyond all dualism. Similarly, any references to the Holy Spirit or Jesus doing anything fall into the same category.

To be sure, these are extremely meaningful passages for us who still believe we are in the dualistic world of time and space, but to take these statements as literal truth will ensure that we never learn the lessons that will help us to awaken from the dream that there is indeed a world of individuality and separate bodies. All too often, students end up reinforcing their own specialness and identification with their bodies by never moving beyond the Course’s language — borrowed from the Bible — which largely consists of metaphoric descriptions of God and the Holy Spirit as bodies and persons who interact with them. Focusing on the Holy Spirit’s true role as a Thought in our minds, calling us to choose Him instead of the ego as our teacher, will keep students on the right track of forgiveness.

For a fuller discussion of this very important topic, the reader may wish to consult the tape sets “Making the Holy Spirit Special: the Arrogance of the Ego” and “Duality as Metaphor in A Course in Miracles.”

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 3

ACIM Text Reading for October 3

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VIII. Choose Once Again

Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this:

“Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviors of the world,
or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there.”

For He has come, and He is asking this.

How do you make the choice? How easily is this explained! You always choose between your weakness and the strength of Christ in you. And what you choose is what you think is real. Simply by never using weakness to direct your actions, you have given it no power. And the light of Christ in you is given charge of everything you do. For you have brought your weakness unto Him, and He has given you His strength instead.

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again.” He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides His face from you. His Holiness is yours because He is the only power that is real in you. His strength is yours because He is the Self that God created as His only Son.

The images you make cannot prevail against what God Himself would have you be. Be never fearful of temptation, then, but see it as it is; another chance to choose again, and let Christ’s strength prevail in every circumstance and every place you raised an image of yourself before. For what appears to hide the face of Christ is powerless before His majesty, and disappears before His holy sight. The saviors of the world, who see like Him, are merely those who choose His strength instead of their own weakness, seen apart from Him. They will redeem the world, for they are joined in all the power of the Will of God. And what they will is only what He wills.

Learn, then, the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words:

“I am as God created me. His Son can suffer nothing. And I am His Son.”

Thus is Christ’s strength invited to prevail, replacing all your weakness with the strength that comes from God and that can never fail. And thus are miracles as natural as fear and agony appeared to be before the choice for holiness was made. For in that choice are false distinctions gone, illusory alternatives laid by, and nothing left to interfere with truth.

You are as God created you, and so is every living thing you look upon, regardless of the images you see. What you behold as sickness and as pain, as weakness and as suffering and loss, is but temptation to perceive yourself defenseless and in hell. Yield not to this, and you will see all pain, in every form, wherever it occurs, but disappear as mists before the sun. A miracle has come to heal God’s Son, and close the door upon his dreams of weakness, opening the way to his salvation and release. Choose once again what you would have him be, remembering that every choice you make establishes your own identity as you will see it and believe it is.

Deny me not the little gift I ask, when in exchange I lay before your feet the peace of God, and power to bring this peace to everyone who wanders in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. For it is given you to join with him, and through the Christ in you unveil his eyes, and let him look upon the Christ in him.

My brothers in salvation, do not fail to hear my voice and listen to my words. I ask for nothing but your own release. There is no place for hell within a world whose loveliness can yet be so intense and so inclusive it is but a step from there to Heaven. To your tired eyes I bring a vision of a different world, so new and clean and fresh you will forget the pain and sorrow that you saw before. Yet this a vision is which you must share with everyone you see, for otherwise you will behold it not. To give this gift is how to make it yours. And God ordained, in loving kindness, that it be for you.

Let us be glad that we can walk the world, and find so many chances to perceive another situation where God’s gift can once again be recognized as ours! And thus will all the vestiges of hell, the secret sins and hidden hates be gone. And all the loveliness which they concealed appear like lawns of Heaven to our sight, to lift us high above the thorny roads we traveled on before the Christ appeared. Hear me, my brothers, hear and join with me. God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content. For you will hear, and you will choose again. And in this choice is everyone made free.

I thank You, Father, for these holy ones who are my brothers as they are Your Sons. My faith in them is Yours. I am as sure that they will come to me as You are sure of what they are, and will forever be. They will accept the gift I offer them, because You gave it me on their behalf. And as I would but do Your holy Will, so will they choose. And I give thanks for them. Salvation’s song will echo through the world with every choice they make. For we are one in purpose, and the end of hell is near.

In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation, and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy. Give me my own, for they belong to You. And can You fail in what is but Your Will? I give You thanks for what my brothers are. And as each one elects to join with me, the song of thanks from earth to Heaven grows from tiny scattered threads of melody to one inclusive chorus from a world redeemed from hell, and giving thanks to You.

And now we say “Amen.” For Christ has come to dwell in the abode You set for Him before time was, in calm eternity. The journey closes, ending at the place where it began. No trace of it remains. Not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ from anyone. Thy Will is done, complete and perfectly, and all creation recognizes You, and knows You as the only Source it has. Clear in Your likeness does the light shine forth from everything that lives and moves in You. For we have reached where all of us are one, and we are home, where You would have us be.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 3

Lesson 276

The Word of God is given me to speak.

What is the Word of God? “My Son is pure and holy as Myself.” And thus did God become the Father of the Son He loves, for thus was he created. This the Word His Son did not create with Him, because in this His Son was born. Let us accept His Fatherhood, and all is given us. Deny we were created in His Love and we deny our Self, to be unsure of Who we are, of Who our Father is, and for what purpose we have come. And yet, we need but to acknowledge Him Who gave His Word to us in our creation, to remember Him and so recall our Self.

Father, Your Word is mine. And it is this that I would speak to all my brothers, who are given me to cherish as my own, as I am loved and blessed and saved by You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #686: In the end of the text, Jesus says that all walk the world “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear” (T31.VIII.7:1). I know that this may seem silly, but I just don’t believe that sometimes. I look at someone like Donald Trump; rich, secure, seemingly happy, and it doesn’t seem that he feels the way Jesus describes. I know enough now that this question probably reflects my fear that A Course in Miracles is asking sacrifice of me, but some people seem so happy without the Course.

A: It is important to remember that in the Course Jesus is addressing our minds; more specifically, the part of our minds that remembers the truth of who we really are (the right mind). However, since we have dissociated from our minds and identified with the ego, and thus with the body, we hear his words as applying to the body. He is not speaking to our bodies. It is the mind that identifies with the ego/body that walks the world “uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear.” Though they may not be apparent, the loneliness, uncertainty and fear that underlie everyone’s’ existence in the world are the motivation for everything that we seek: money, power, friends, and family. Having believed we are separate from our Source, we feel bankrupt and therefore compelled to fill our physical, psychological, and emotional warehouses to the brim with wealth, health and “happiness.” The ego is ingenious in making up itsinterpretation of “happiness,” “success,” “achievement,” even “love,” based on the deep sense of loss that inevitably accompanies the choice for separation. The world offers the illusion of happiness, and on its terms it seems to “work” for some people. They seem to “have it all.” It is possible to experience the satisfaction of getting what we want, or what we think we want, and it is this that the world calls happiness. However, as it turns out, it is never enough, not even the “perfect life” here in the world, and so we seek for more. No doubt Donald Trump, along with many other wealthy, and successful people, would admit that there are more fortunes and more power to be had: “You never can be too rich or too thin.”

Jesus tells us in the Course, that in choosing to identify with the body and seeking everything the world has to offer, we have short-changed ourselves. “To identify with the ego is to attack yourself and make yourself poor. That is why everyone who identifies with the ego feels deprived. What he experiences then is depression or anger, because what he did was to exchange Self-love for self-hate, making him afraid of himself. He does not realize this. Even if he is fully aware of anxiety he does not perceive its source as his own ego identification, and he always tries to handle it by making some sort of insane ‘arrangement’ with the world” (T.12.III.6:1,2,3,4,5, italics ours). The insane arrangements are all the things we do to avoid feeling the self-hatred, this is what compels us to seek outside of ourselves for comfort and fulfillment. Every value the world holds has its source in the pervasive feeling of emptiness that is the effect of choosing the ego instead of God. Yet nothing ever fills that void. Jesus tells the Donald Trump in all of us that the world/ego is a bad investment: “The ego is trying to teach you how to gain the whole world and lose your own soul. The Holy Spirit teaches that you cannot lose your soul and there is no gain in the world, for of itself it profits nothing. To invest without profit is surely to impoverish yourself, and the overhead is high. Not only is there no profit in the investment, but the cost to you is enormous. For this investment costs you the world’s reality by denying yours, and gives you nothing in return” (T.12.VI.1:1,2,3,4,5).

A close look at the satisfactions and “happiness” the world offer reveals that they are short spent and do not last. Every enjoyment is shadowed by the knowledge that it will end, not to mention that it is nothing but an illusion: “Illusions will not last. Their death is sure and this alone is certain in their world. It is the ego’s world because of this” (C.2.1:1,2,3). We cannot effectively extinguish the gnawing sense that everything we seek and achieve has an end, including this “life” in a body, and thus we become imprisoned by the relentless pursuit of pleasure, comfort, and meaning in the world. This often extends to the search for meaningful religious experience and fulfillment, in an attempt to calm our fear that we are, in fact, wrong about who we are, and wrong about everything we believe is true and meaningful. As the very first lesson in the workbook tells us: “Nothing I see…means anything” (W.pI.1). How, then, can what is meaningless bring us happiness, comfort, or peace? Not only is it meaningless, everything the world offers is actually a defense against recognizing what is meaningful, since it is the place made by the ego, “where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him” (W.pII.3.2:4).

There is no need to worry that we will have to sacrifice or be deprived of anything we think we need as long as we think we need it: “Only the Holy Spirit knows what you need. For He will give you all things that do not block the way to light. And what else could you need? In time, He gives you all the things that you need have, and will renew them as long as you have need of them. He will take nothing from you as long as you have any need of it. And yet He knows that everything you need is temporary, and will but last until you step aside from all your needs and realize that all of them have been fulfilled” (T.13.VII.12:1,2,3,4,5,6). Let’s not be fooled by anything else.

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 2

ACIM Text Reading for October 2

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VII. The Savior’s Vision

Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful, nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognize. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation’s task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world’s concepts are the guilty “bad”; the “good” are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the “good” to pardon him the “bad.” Nor does he trust the “good” in anyone, believing that the “bad” must lurk behind. This concept emphasizes treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the “bad” in you.

You could not recognize your “evil” thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another “crime.” You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed. Your “evil” thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer do you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you give your trust to what is good in him, you give it to the good in you.

In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the “baser” part of you, and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself, when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid that God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.

You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself, which can be interchanged but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself, because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you. For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.

Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him, that you may not be frightened by your “evil” thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself that now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand, that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one that brings the peace of God.

The concept of yourself that now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed, unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace, that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world, instead of as salvation’s enemy?

The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images, because you look on them as through a barrier that dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness, and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release; the sight, the vision and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you, and the universe with them.

Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a savior to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself, and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon, to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ, and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this one. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.

The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error; that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself that holds him off from you, and you away from him. The sword of judgment is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is, and thus what you must be.

What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable, and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a savior to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial savior would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given you to save are but everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are; all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet; the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.

Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the savior of the Son of God? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within, and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon, that he may be what they expect of him. This is the savior’s vision; that he see his innocence in all he looks upon, and see his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.

Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not. And from that wish a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you. For seeing can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see, or keep yourself apart and separate.

The savior’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgment made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognizing this, it merely asks, “What is the meaning of what I behold?” Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.

Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear. This is temptation; nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.

Let not the world’s light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the savior’s vision is withheld and what they see is death. Their savior stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes, and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, “Release My Son!” be tempted not to listen, when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 2

Lesson 275

God’s healing Voice protects all things today.

Let us today attend the Voice for God, which speaks an ancient lesson, no more true today than any other day. Yet has this day been chosen as the time when we will seek and hear and learn and understand. Join me in hearing. For the Voice for God tells us of things we cannot understand alone, nor learn apart. It is in this that all things are protected. And in this the healing of the Voice for God is found.

Your healing Voice protects all things today, and so I leave all things to You. I need be anxious over nothing. For Your Voice will tell me what to do and where to go; to whom to speak and what to say to him, what thoughts to think, what words to give the world. The safety that I bring is given me. Father, Your Voice protects all things through me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #177: Is it necessary to comprehend the mythology in order to begin study of A Course in Miracles, and to use the principles of the Course properly? I have great trouble with the metaphysics of the Course surrounding the origin of guilt yet the practical applications of the Course (i.e., choosing the ego or Jesus as your teacher) seem logical and helpful. Can I truly practice forgiveness as the Course defines it if I don’t really accept the Course’s mythology surrounding the origin of the world?

A: The benefit of practicing forgiveness is that we will feel better, because we will be letting go of the pain of self-deception involved in blaming others for our problems. It is practical in that sense. And it is very comforting to know that there is a loving, wise teacher within, of whom we can always ask help. We can go along nicely with that for quite some time, and even stay on that level indefinitely if we so choose. The Course can be used that way, and be of tremendous personal benefit and comfort. The metaphysical principles of the Course are not needed to experience the gentle guidance of Jesus, and to withdraw our projections of guilt onto others. If staying on that level brings one closer to God, what could be wrong with it?

But since you specifically mentioned “forgiveness as the Course defines it,” it is necessary to go further. And so we will. The beginning and the end of the Introduction to the workbook shed some further light on this. Jesus begins by talking about the relationship between the text and the workbook: “A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in the workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of the workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth” (W.in.1).

At the end of the Introduction to the workbook (W.in.8,9), Jesus acknowledges the problems of credulity and resistance we probably will run into regarding the ideas and concepts presented in the lessons. And his advice to us is to concentrate only on using and applying the ideas exactly as he directs us to do, without judging them or evaluating them, because their meaning and their truth will be manifested to us through our using them.

The implication would seem to be that somewhere along the line, the student is going to come face-to-face with the theoretical principles of the Course. For example, as it becomes clear that forgiveness means forgiving the other person for what he did not do — a truly startling, deeply challenging statement — we are led ultimately to question the reality of guilt itself. That would take us directly to the metaphysical dimension of the Course. Indeed, the Course’s view of forgiveness cannot be fully appreciated without being aware of its metaphysical underpinnings. It would be too easy to slide into the traditional view of forgiving what truly happened if the illusory nature of sin and guilt were not an integral part of one’s thinking and approach to grievances.

The answer to your question, therefore, is both yes and no. One can benefit from practicing forgiveness and turning to Jesus for guidance; but the process of forgiveness as presented in the Course would be short-circuited and not fully appreciated if the Course’s theory of the origin of guilt were ignored. If this theory were explicitly not accepted, it would make the practice of the Course’s version of forgiveness impossible.

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 1

ACIM Text Reading for October 1

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VI. Recognizing the Spirit

You see the flesh or recognize the spirit. There is no compromise between the two. If one is real the other must be false, for what is real denies its opposite. There is no choice in vision but this one. What you decide in this determines all you see and think is real and hold as true. On this one choice does all your world depend, for here have you established what you are, as flesh or spirit in your own belief. If you choose flesh, you never will escape the body as your own reality, for you have chosen that you want it so. But choose the spirit, and all Heaven bends to touch your eyes and bless your holy sight, that you may see the world of flesh no more except to heal and comfort and to bless.

Salvation is undoing. If you choose to see the body, you behold a world of separation, unrelated things, and happenings that make no sense at all. This one appears and disappears in death; that one is doomed to suffering and loss. And no one is exactly as he was an instant previous, nor will he be the same as he is now an instant hence. Who could have trust where so much change is seen, for who is worthy if he be but dust? Salvation is undoing of all this. For constancy arises in the sight of those whose eyes salvation has released from looking at the cost of keeping guilt, because they chose to let it go instead.

Salvation does not ask that you behold the spirit and perceive the body not. It merely asks that this should be your choice. For you can see the body without help, but do not understand how to behold a world apart from it. It is your world salvation will undo, and let you see another world your eyes could never find. Be not concerned how this could ever be. You do not understand how what you see arose to meet your sight. For if you did, it would be gone. The veil of ignorance is drawn across the evil and the good, and must be passed that both may disappear, so that perception finds no hiding place. How is this done? It is not done at all. What could there be within the universe that God created that must still be done?

Only in arrogance could you conceive that you must make the way to Heaven plain. The means are given you by which to see the world that will replace the one you made. Your will be done! In Heaven as on earth this is forever true. It matters not where you believe you are, nor what you think the truth about yourself must really be. It makes no difference what you look upon, nor what you choose to feel or think or wish. For God Himself has said, “Your will be done.” And it is done to you accordingly.

You who believe that you can choose to see the Son of God as you would have him be, forget not that no concept of yourself will stand against the truth of what you are. Undoing truth would be impossible. But concepts are not difficult to change. One vision, clearly seen, that does not fit the picture as it was perceived before will change the world for eyes that learn to see, because the concept of the self has changed.

Are you invulnerable? Then the world is harmless in your sight. Do you forgive? Then is the world forgiving, for you have forgiven it its trespasses, and so it looks on you with eyes that see as yours. Are you a body? So is all the world perceived as treacherous, and out to kill. Are you a spirit, deathless, and without the promise of corruption and the stain of sin upon you? So the world is seen as stable, fully worthy of your trust; a happy place to rest in for a while, where nothing need be feared, but only loved. Who is unwelcome to the kind in heart? And what could hurt the truly innocent?

Your will be done, you holy child of God. It does not matter if you think you are in earth or Heaven. What your Father wills of you can never change. The truth in you remains as radiant as a star, as pure as light, as innocent as love itself. And you are worthy that your will be done!

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 1

Lesson 274

Today belongs to love. Let me not fear.

Father, today I would let all things be as You created them, and give Your Son the honor due his sinlessness; the love of brother to his brother and his Friend. Through this I am redeemed. Through this as well the truth will enter where illusions were, light will replace all darkness, and Your Son will know he is as You created him.

A special blessing comes to us today, from Him Who is our Father. Give this day to Him, and there will be no fear today, because the day is given unto love.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #915I 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 .

certain as god