ACIM Text Reading for July 24
Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception
I. The Forgotten Song
Never forget the world the sightless ‘see’ must be imagined, for what it really looks like is unknown to them. They must infer what could be seen from evidence forever indirect; and reconstruct their inferences as they stumble and fall because of what they did not recognise, or walk unharmed through open doorways that they thought were closed. And so it is with you. You do not see. Your cues for inference are wrong, and so you stumble and fall down upon the stones you did not recognise, but fail to be aware you can go through the doors you thought were closed, but which stand open before unseeing eyes, waiting to welcome you.
How foolish is it to attempt to judge what could be seen instead. It is not necessary to imagine what the world must look like. It must be seen before you recognise it for what it is. You can be shown which doors are open, and you can see where safety lies; and which way leads to darkness, which to light. Judgement will always give you false directions, but vision shows you where to go. Why should you guess?
There is no need to learn through pain. And gentle lessons are acquired joyously, and are remembered gladly. What gives you happiness you want to learn and not forget. It is not this you would deny. Your question is whether the means by which this course is learned will bring to you the joy it promises. If you believed it would, the learning of it would be no problem. You are not a happy learner yet because you still remain uncertain that vision gives you more than judgement does, and you have learned that both you cannot have.
The blind become accustomed to their world by their adjustments to it. They think they know their way about in it. They learned it, not through joyous lessons, but through the stern necessity of limits they believed they could not overcome. And still believing this, they hold those lessons dear, and cling to them because they cannot see. They do not understand the lessons keep them blind. This they do not believe. And so they keep the world they learned to ‘see’ in their imagination, believing that their choice is that or nothing. They hate the world they learned through pain. And everything they think is in it serves to remind them that they are incomplete arid bitterly deprived.
Thus they define their life where they live, adjusting to it as they think they must, afraid to lose the little that they have. And so it is with all who see the body as all they have and all their brothers have. They try to reach each other, and they fail, and fail again. And they adjust to loneliness, believing that to keep the body is to save the little that they have. Listen, and try to think if you remember what we will speak of now.
Listenâ€”perhaps you catch a hint of an ancient state not quite forgotten; dim, perhaps, and yet not altogether unfamiliar, like a song whose name is long forgotten; and the circumstances in which you heard completely unremembered. Not the whole song has stayed with you, but just a little wisp of melody, attached not to a person or a place or anything particular. But you remember, from just this little part, how lovely was the song, how wonderful the setting where you heard it, and how you loved those who were there and listened with you.
The notes are nothing. Yet you have kept them with you, not for themselves, but as a soft reminder of what would make you weep if you remembered how dear it was to you. You could remember, yet you are afraid, believing you would lose the world you learned since then. And yet you know that nothing in the world you learned is half so dear as this. Listen, and see if you remember an ancient song you knew so long ago and held more dear than any melody you taught yourself to cherish since.
Beyond the body, beyond the sun and stars, past everything you see and yet somehow familiar, is an arc of golden light that stretches as you look into a great and shining circle. And all the circle fills with light before your eyes. The edges of the circle disappear, and what is in it is no longer contained at all. The light expands and covers everything, extending to infinity forever shining and with no break or limit anywhere. Within it everything is joined in perfect continuity. Nor is it possible to imagine that anything could be outside, for there is nowhere that this light is not.
This is the vision of the Son of God, whom you know well. Here is the sight of him who knows his Father. Here is the memory of what you are; a part of this, with all of it within, and joined to all as surely as all is joined in you. Accept the vision that can show you this, and not the body. You know the ancient song, and know it well. Nothing will ever be as dear to you as is this ancient hymn the Son of God sings to his Father still.
And now the blind can see, for that same song they sing in honour of their Creator gives praise to them as well. The blindness that they made will not withstand the memory of this song. And they will look upon the vision of the Son of God, remembering who he is they sing of. What is a miracle but this remembering? And who is there in whom this memory lies not? The light in one awakens it in all. And when you see it in your brother, you are remembering for everyone.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 24
I feel the Love of God within me now.
There is a light in you the world can not perceive. And with its eyes you will not see this light, for you are blinded by the world. Yet you have eyes to see it. It is there for you to look upon. It was not placed in you to be kept hidden from your sight. This light is a reflection of the thought we practice now. To feel the Love of God within you is to see the world anew, shining in innocence, alive with hope, and blessed with perfect charity and love.
Who could feel fear in such a world as this? It welcomes you, rejoices that you came, and sings your praises as it keeps you safe from every form of danger and of pain. It offers you a warm and gentle home in which to stay a while. It blesses you throughout the day, and watches through the night as silent guardian of your holy sleep. It sees salvation in you, and protects the light in you, in which it sees its own. It offers you its flowers and its snow, in thankfulness for your benevolence.
This is the world the Love of God reveals. It is so different from the world you see through darkened eyes of malice and of fear, that one belies the other. Only one can be perceived at all. The other one is wholly meaningless. A world in which forgiveness shines on everything, and peace offers its gentle light to everyone, is inconceivable to those who see a world of hatred rising from attack, poised to avenge, to murder and destroy.
Yet is the world of hatred equally unseen and inconceivable to those who feel God’s Love in them. Their world reflects the quietness and peace that shines in them; the gentleness and innocence they see surrounding them; the joy with which they look out from the endless wells of joy within. What they have felt in them they look upon, and see its sure reflection everywhere.
What would you see? The choice is given you. But learn and do not let your mind forget this law of seeing: You will look upon that which you feel within. If hatred finds a place within your heart, you will perceive a fearful world, held cruelly in death’s sharp-pointed, bony fingers. If you feel the Love of God within you, you will look out on a world of mercy and of love.
Today we pass illusions, as we seek to reach to what is true in us, and feel its all-embracing tenderness, its Love which knows us perfect as itself, its sight which is the gift its Love bestows on us. We learn the way today. It is as sure as Love itself, to which it carries us. For its simplicity avoids the snares the foolish convolutions of the world’s apparent reasoning but serve to hide.
Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.
Is it not He Who knows the way to you? You need not know the way to Him. Your part is simply to allow all obstacles that you have interposed between the Son and God the Father to be quietly removed forever. God will do His part in joyful and immediate response. Ask and receive. But do not make demands, nor point the road to God by which He should appear to you. The way to reach Him is merely to let Him be. For in that way is your reality proclaimed as well.
And so today we do not choose the way in which we go to Him. But we do choose to let Him come. And with this choice we rest. And in our quiet hearts and open minds, His Love will blaze its pathway of itself. What has not been denied is surely there, if it be true and can be surely reached. God knows His Son, and knows the way to him. He does not need His Son to show Him how to find His way. Through every opened door His Love shines outward from its home within, and lightens up the world in innocence.
Father, we do not know the way to You. But we have called, and You have answered us. We will not interfere. Salvation’s ways are not our own, for they belong to You. And it is unto You we look for them. Our hands are open to receive Your gifts. We have no thoughts we think apart from You, and cherish no beliefs of what we are, or Who created us. Yours is the way that we would find and follow. And we ask but that Your Will, which is our own as well, be done in us and in the world, that it become a part of Heaven now. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #418: What does the statement “reflection of Love” mean? If there is no love in this world, how can you tell what is a reflection of love? Many students of A Course in Miracles I know run around saying they are “extending” love. They do this by acts and deeds and thoughts. This doesn’t seem to be what the Course is saying. If there is no love in the world, how can one extend love in the world? I can understand there being no love in the world since God is Love, and God knows not of this world. But this reflection thing seems to hang me up. Can you help?
A: It is important to remember that when the Course speaks about the extension or the reflection of love, it is addressing the mind that chooses to identify with the part of the mind that remembers God, not the separate individual who identifies with the body in the dream. In reality, the Son cannot be separate from the Father and cannot obliterate memory of Him; therefore, a part of the mind holds the memory of God. It is this part which is a reflection of God’s Love. When the mind chooses to identify with this love, it flows through the figure in the dream and is thereby extended. It is not limited by form of any kind, but takes the form which is most helpful in any situation and to anyone. This is not an act of will, nor a choice on the part of an individual to perform specific “loving acts,” as we may define them.
It is unlikely that those who identify with the part of the mind that reflects God’s Love would run around saying they are “extending” love. If they do, hopefully they are aware that “they” are not the ones doing the extending. The figure in the dream does nothing. We are not asked to use our judgment to evaluate any situation or to determine what is or is not a loving response. As the Course reminds us clearly and repeatedly, our function is forgiveness. It is practiced by recognizing all the unloving thoughts and judgments we may have, asking for them to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. We then do what the Course invites us to do: “Step gently aside, and let healing be done for you. Keep but one thought in mind and do not lose sight of it, however tempted you may be to judge any situation, and to determine your response by judging it. Focus your mind only on this: I am not alone, and I would not intrude the past upon my Guest. I have invited Him, and He is here. I need do nothing except not to interfere” (T.16.I.3:8,9,10,11,12). Once we have arrived at this noninterference, all that is left is the reflection of love.
Q #419: Sabotage is a big issue with me. It doesn’t matter what the form is, I just ruin things for myself. Needless to say, the consequences of continually sabotaging myself are always regretful and sad and the more they are recalled in my mind the more guilty I feel. I have grown very weary of my self. Can you please elaborate on the subject of sabotage.
A: Speaking in general, because we do not know you personally, self-sabotage is usually motivated by hidden ego dynamics, such as: (1) The need to punish yourself for the “sin” of attacking Love in order to have your own existence. This would cause you to think that you do not deserve to be happy for any extended period of time. And, further, following the ego’s story, you would think that God would be more pleased with you if He saw that you had a rough life. Thus you would be willing to pay for your sinfulness through a life filled with failure and misfortune. (2) The need to prove that your life as an individual is real and is the truth about you. Thus, being weary of being you says you are still you, and you are not as God created you. (3) The need to hold someone else responsible for your miserable life. If you dig beneath the surface, more than likely you will find yourself blaming your self-destructive pattern on something in your past, or some other factor for which you are not responsible. That would again fulfill the ego’s aim of sustaining the separation but not taking responsibility for it.
The application of forgiveness to this painful condition involves first acknowledging that there must be an unconscious need within you to reinforce this self-concept, and that it obviously is coming from your identification with the ego. In that sense, you (the decision-making mind identified with the ego), are simply carrying out your own strategy. Gentleness in looking at these thoughts within yourself is essential if you are to begin the process of healing, and asking help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit would ensure that you would look without judgment. Being weary of yourself is already a judgment, because it is saying this is who you truly are, and to some extent you are a helpless victim. To get beyond that, all you need to do is say and feel as objectively as you can: “This is where I am, and for some insane reason I must believe that this is helping me achieve something of value. This does not make be a bad person or a sinful person, just mistaken. I clearly have chosen the ego as my teacher and am simply following its guidance.” If you could do that without any judgment whatsoever, you would be making progress in lessening your investment in the ego thought system, and you would not be worsening the situation by trying to fight yourself. This patient acceptance of yourself would then give you some “breathing space,” and then at some point you would be able to get in touch with these deeper layers of motivation and ask for help to see them differently, from a healing perspective in your right mind.
Finally, it is never wrong or out of keeping with your commitment to A Course in Miracles to seek help from a therapist. Sometimes successful behavioral changes lessen psychological pressures enough so that you can then work on the underlying dynamics such as the ones outlined above.