A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 10

ACIM Text Reading for August 10

Chapter 23 ~ The War Against Yourself

II. The Laws of Chaos

The ‘laws’ of chaos can be brought to light, though never understood. Chaotic laws are hardly meaningful, and therefore out of reason’s sphere. Yet they appear to be an obstacle to reason and to truth. Let us, then, look upon them calmly, that we may look beyond them, understanding what they are, not what they would maintain. It is essential it be understood what they are for, because it is their, purpose to make meaningless, and to attack the truth. Here are the laws that rule the world you made. And yet they govern nothing, and need not be broken; merely looked upon and gone beyond.

The first chaotic law is that the truth is different for everyone. Like all these principles, this one maintains that each is separate and has a different set of thoughts that set him off from others. This principle evolves from the belief there is a hierarchy of illusions; some are more valuable and therefore true. Each one establishes this for himself, and makes it true by his attack on what another values. And this is justified because the values differ, and those who hold them seem to be unlike, and therefore enemies.

Think how this seems to interfere with the first principle of miracles. For this establishes degrees of truth among illusions, making it seem that some of them are harder to overcome than others. If it were realised that they are all the same and equally untrue, it would be easy, then, to understand that miracles apply to all of them. Errors of any kind can be corrected because they are untrue. When brought to truth instead of to each other, they merely disappear. No part of nothing can be more resistant to the truth than can another.

The second law of chaos, dear indeed to every worshipper of sin, is that each one must sin, and therefore deserves attack and death. This principle, closely related to the first, is the demand that errors, call for punishment and not correction. For the destruction of the one who makes the error places him beyond correction and beyond forgiveness. What he has done is thus interpreted as an irrevocable sentence upon himself, which God Himself is powerless to overcome. Sin cannot be remitted, being the belief the Son of God can make mistakes for which his own destruction becomes inevitable.

Think what this seems to do to the relationship between the Father and the Son. Now it appears that they can never be one again. For one must always be condemned, and by the other. Now are they different, and enemies. And their relationship is one of opposition, just as the separate aspects of the Son meet only to conflict but not to join. One becomes weak, the other strong by his defeat. And fear of God and of each other now appears as sensible, made real by what the Son of God has done both to himself and his Creator.

The arrogance on which the laws of chaos stand could not be more apparent than emerges here. Here is a principle that would define what the Creator of reality must be; what He must think and what He must believe; and how He must respond, believing it. It is not seen as even necessary that He be asked about the truth of what has been established for His belief. His Son can tell Him this, and He has but the choice whether to take his word for it or be mistaken. This leads directly to the third preposterous belief that seems to make chaos eternal. For if God cannot be mistaken, He must accept his Son’s belief in what he is, and hate him for it.

See how the fear of God is reinforced by this third principle. Now it becomes impossible to turn to Him for help in misery. For now He has become the ‘enemy’ Who caused it, to Whom appeal is useless. Nor can salvation lie within the Son, whose every aspect seems to be at war with Him, and justified in its attack. And now is conflict made inevitable, beyond the help of God. For now salvation must remain impossible, because the saviour has become the enemy.

There can be no release and no escape. Atonement thus becomes a myth, and vengeance, not forgiveness, is the Will of God. From where all this begins, there is no sight of help that can succeed. Only destruction can be the outcome. And God Himself seems to be siding with it, to overcome His Son. Think not the ego will enable you to find escape from what it wants. That is the function of this course, which does not value what the ego cherishes.

The ego values only what it takes. This leads to the fourth law of chaos, which, if the others are accepted, must be true. This seeming law is the belief you have what you have taken. By this, another’s loss becomes your gain, and thus it fails to recognise that you can never take away save from yourself. Yet all the other laws must lead to this. For enemies do not give willingly to one another, nor would they seek to share the things they value. And what your enemies would keep from you must be worth having, because they keep it hidden from your sight.

All of the mechanisms of madness are seen emerging here: The ‘enemy’ made strong by keeping hidden the valuable inheritance that should be yours; your justified position and attack for what has been withheld; and the inevitable loss the enemy must suffer to save yourself. Thus do the guilty ones protest their ‘innocence’. Were they not forced into this foul attack by the unscrupulous behaviour of the enemy, they would respond with only kindness. But in a savage world the kind cannot survive, so they must take or else be taken from.

And now there is a vague unanswered question, not yet ‘explained’. What is this precious thing, this priceless pearl, this hidden secret treasure, to be wrested in righteous wrath from this most treacherous and cunning enemy? It must be what you want but never found. And now you ‘understand’ the reason why you found it not. For it was taken from you by this enemy, and hidden where you would not think to look. He hid it in his body, making it the cover for his guilt, the hiding place for what belongs to you. Now must his body be destroyed and sacrificed, that you may have that which belongs to you. His treachery demands his death, that you may live. And you attack only in self-defence.

But what is it you want that needs his death? Can you be sure your murderous attack is justified unless you know what it is for? And here a final principle of chaos comes to the ‘rescue’. It holds there is a substitute for love. This is the magic that will cure all of your pain; the missing factor in your madness that makes it ‘sane’. This is the reason why you must attack. Here is what makes your vengeance justified. Behold, unveiled, the ego’s secret gift, torn from your brother’s body, hidden there in malice and in hatred for the one to whom the gift belongs. He would deprive you of the secret ingredient that would give meaning to your life. The substitute for love, born of your enmity to your brother, must be salvation. It has no substitute, and there is only one. And all your relationships have but the purpose of seizing it and making it your own.

Never is your possession made complete. And never will your brother cease his attack on you for what you stole. Nor will God end His vengeance upon both, for in His madness He must have this substitute for love, and kill you both. You who believe you walk in sanity with feet on solid ground, and through a world where meaning can be found, consider this: These are the laws on which your ‘sanity’ appears to rest. These are the principles which make the ground beneath your feet seem solid. And it is here you look for meaning. These are the laws you made for your salvation. They hold in place the substitute for Heaven which you prefer. This is their purpose; they were made for this. There is no point in asking what they mean. That is apparent. The means of madness must be insane. Are you as certain that you realise the goal is madness?

No one wants madness, nor does anyone cling to his madness if he sees that this is what it is. What protects madness is the belief that it is true. It is the function of insanity to take the place of truth. It must be seen as truth to be believed. And if it is the truth, then must its opposite, which was the truth before, be madness now. Such a reversal, completely turned around, with madness sanity, illusions true, attack a kindness, hatred love, and murder benediction, is the goal the laws of chaos serve. These are the means by which the laws of God appear to be reversed. Here do the laws of sin appear to hold love captive, and let sin go free.

These do not seem to be the goals of chaos, for by the great reversal they appear to be the laws of order. How could it not be so? Chaos is lawlessness, and has no laws. To be believed, its seeming laws must be perceived as real. Their goal of madness must be seen as sanity. And fear, with ashen lips and sightless eyes, blinded and terrible to look upon, is lifted to the throne of love, its dying conqueror, its substitute, the saviour from salvation. How lovely do the laws of fear make death appear. Give thanks unto the hero on love’s throne, who saved the Son of God for fear and death!

And yet, how can it be that laws like these can be believed? There is a strange device that makes it possible. Nor is it unfamiliar; we have seen how it appears to function many times before. In truth it does not function, yet in dreams, where only shadows play the major roles, it seems most powerful. No law of chaos could compel belief but for the emphasis on form and disregard of content. No one who thinks that one of these laws is true sees what it says. Some forms it takes seem to have meaning, and that is all.

How can some forms of murder not mean death? Can an attack in any form be love? What form of condemnation is a blessing? Who makes his saviour powerless and finds salvation? Let not the form of the attack on him deceive you. You cannot seek to harm him and be saved. Who can find safety from attack by turning on himself? How can it matter what the form this madness takes? It is a judgement that defeats itself, condemning what it says it wants to save. Be not deceived when madness takes a form you think is lovely. What is intent on your destruction is not your friend.

You would maintain, and think it true, that you do not believe these senseless laws, nor act upon them. And when you look at what they say, they cannot be believed. Brother, you do believe them. For how else could you perceive the form they take, with content such as this? Can any form of this be tenable? Yet you believe them for the form they take, and do not recognise the content. It never changes. Can you paint rosy lips upon a skeleton, dress it in loveliness, pet it and pamper it, and make it live? And can you be content with an illusion that you are living?

There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion. At best it seems like life; at worst, like death. Yet both are judgements on what is not life, equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere. Outside of Heaven, only the conflict of illusion stands; senseless, impossible and beyond all reason, and yet perceived as an eternal barrier to Heaven. Illusions are but forms. Their content is never true.

The laws of chaos govern all illusion. Their forms conflict, making it seem quite possible to value some above the others. Yet each one rests as surely on the belief the laws of chaos are the laws of order as do the others. Each one upholds these laws completely, offering a certain witness that these laws are true. The seeming gentler forms of the attack are no less certain in their witnessing, or their results. Certain it is illusions will bring fear because of the beliefs that they imply, not for their form. And lack of faith in love, in any form, attests to chaos as reality.

From the belief in sin, the faith in chaos must follow. It is because it follows that it seems to be a logical conclusion; a valid step in ordered thought. The steps to chaos do follow neatly from their starting point. Each is a different form in the progression of truth’s reversal, leading still deeper into terror and away from truth. Think not one step is smaller than another, nor that return from one is easier. The whole descent from Heaven lies in each one. And where your thinking starts, there must it end.

Brother, take not one step in the descent to hell. For having taken one, you will not recognise the rest for what they are. And they will, follow. Attack in any form has placed your foot upon the twisted stairway that leads from Heaven. Yet any instant it is possible to have all this undone. How can you know whether you chose the stairs to Heaven or the way to hell? Quite easily. How do you feel? Is peace in your awareness? Are you certain which way you go? And are you sure the goal of Heaven can be reached? If not, you walk alone. Ask, then, your Friend to join with you, and give you certainty of where you go.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 10

Lesson 206

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

(186) Salvation of the world depends on me.

I am entrusted with the gifts of God, because I am His Son.
And I would give His gifts where He intended them to be.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Does A Course in Miracles really mean that God did not create the entire physical universe?

We answer this question with a resounding affirmative! Since nothing of form, matter, or substance can be of God, then nothing of the physical universe can be real, and there is no exception to this. Workbook Lesson 43 states, in the context of perception, which is the realm of duality and separation:

Perception is not an attribute of God. His is the realm of knowledge….In God you cannot see.  Perception has no function in God, and does not exist (W-pI.43.1:1-2; 2:1-2).

In the clarification of terms we find the following crystal clear statement about the illusory nature of the world of perception, which God did not create:

The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever. Some things will last in time a little while longer than others [e.g., the greater cosmos, as we shall see below in a passage from the text). But the time will come when all things visible will have an end (C-4. 1).

And finally, a similar statement in the text:

God’s laws do not obtain directly to a world perception rules, for such a world could not have been created by the Mind to which perception has no meaning. Yet are His laws reflected everywhere [through the Holy Spirit]. Not that the world where this reflection is, is real at all.  Only because His Son believes it is, and from His Son’s belief He could not let Himself be separate entirely. He could not enter His Son insanity with him … (T-25.111.2; italics ours).

These passages are important, because they clarify a source of misunderstanding for many students of A Course in Miracles who maintain that Jesus is teaching that God did in fact create the world. They assert that all the Course is teaching is that he did not create our misperceptions of it. Statements which contain the phrase “the world you see,” as in the above passage from the manual for teachers, do not apply simply to the world we perceive through our wrong-minded lens, but rather to the fact that we see at all. Again, the entire physical universe, the world of perception and form, is illusory and outside the Mind of God.

Therefore, nothing that can be observed — nothing that has form, physicality, moves, changes, deteriorates, and ultimately dies — is of God. A Course in Miracles is unequivocal about this, which is why we speak of it as being a perfect non-dualistic thought system: It contains no exceptions. And so the seeming majesty of the cosmos and perceived glory of nature are all expressions of the ego’s thought system of separation, as we see in this wonderful passage from the text:

What seems eternal all will have an end. The stars will disappear, and night and day will be no more. All things that come and go, the tides, the seasons and the lives of men; all things that change with time and bloom and fade will not return. Where time has set an end is not where the eternal is (T-29.VI.2:7- I0).

To attempt to make an exception to this fact is to attempt a compromise with truth, exactly what the ego wants in order to establish its own existence. As Jesus states in the workbook: “What is false is false, and what is true has never changed” (W-pII.10.1:1). And again in the text:

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 (T-31.1.1:1-4).

In conclusion, therefore, no aspect of the illusion can be accorded truth, which means that absolutely nothing in the material universe has come from God, or is even known by Him. His reality is totally outside the world of dreams.

10380454_10204446556664769_7181123961313419099_o

Advertisements

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 23

ACIM Text Reading for July 23

Chapter 23 ~ The War Against Yourself

III. The Laws of Chaos

The “laws” of chaos can be brought to light, though never understood. Chaotic laws are hardly meaningful, and therefore out of reason’s sphere. Yet they appear to be an obstacle to reason and to truth. Let us, then, look upon them calmly, that we may look beyond them, understanding what they are, not what they would maintain. It is essential it be understood what they are for, because it is their purpose to make meaningless, and to attack the truth. Here are the laws that rule the world you made. And yet they govern nothing, and need not be broken; merely looked upon and gone beyond.

The first chaotic law is that the truth is different for everyone. Like all these principles, this one maintains that each is separate and has a different set of thoughts that set him off from others. This principle evolves from the belief there is a hierarchy of illusions; some are more valuable and therefore true. Each one establishes this for himself, and makes it true by his attack on what another values. And this is justified because the values differ, and those who hold them seem to be unlike, and therefore enemies.

Think how this seems to interfere with the first principle of miracles. For this establishes degrees of truth among illusions, making it seem that some of them are harder to overcome than others. If it were realized that they are all the same and equally untrue, it would be easy, then, to understand that miracles apply to all of them. Errors of any kind can be corrected because they are untrue. When brought to truth instead of to each other, they merely disappear. No part of nothing can be more resistant to the truth than can another.

The second law of chaos, dear indeed to every worshipper of sin, is that each one must sin, and therefore deserves attack and death. This principle, closely related to the first, is the demand that errors call for punishment and not correction. For the destruction of the one who makes the error places him beyond correction and beyond forgiveness. What he has done is thus interpreted as an irrevocable sentence upon himself, which God Himself is powerless to overcome. Sin cannot be remitted, being the belief the Son of God can make mistakes for which his own destruction becomes inevitable.

Think what this seems to do to the relationship between the Father and the Son. Now it appears that They can never be One again. For One must always be condemned, and by the Other. Now are They different, and enemies. And Their relationship is one of opposition, just as the separate aspects of the Son meet only to conflict but not to join. One becomes weak, the other strong by his defeat. And fear of God and of each other now appears as sensible, made real by what the Son of God has done both to himself and his Creator.

The arrogance on which the laws of chaos stand could not be more apparent than emerges here. Here is a principle that would define what the Creator of reality must be; what He must think and what He must believe; and how He must respond, believing it. It is not seen as even necessary that He be asked about the truth of what has been established for His belief. His Son can tell Him this, and He has but the choice whether to take his word for it or be mistaken. This leads directly to the third preposterous belief that seems to make chaos eternal. For if God cannot be mistaken, He must accept His Son’s belief in what he is, and hate him for it.

See how the fear of God is reinforced by this third principle. Now it becomes impossible to turn to Him for help in misery. For now He has become the “enemy” Who caused it, to Whom appeal is useless. Nor can salvation lie within the Son, whose every aspect seems to be at war with Him, and justified in its attack. And now is conflict made inevitable, beyond the help of God. For now salvation must remain impossible, because the Savior has become the enemy.

There can be no release and no escape. Atonement thus becomes a myth, and vengeance, not forgiveness, is the Will of God. From where all this begins, there is no sight of help that can succeed. Only destruction can be the outcome. And God Himself seems to be siding with it, to overcome His Son. Think not the ego will enable you to find escape from what it wants. That is the function of this course, which does not value what the ego cherishes.

The ego values only what it takes. This leads to the fourth law of chaos, which, if the others are accepted, must be true. This seeming law is the belief you have what you have taken. By this, another’s loss becomes your gain, and thus it fails to recognize that you can never take away save from yourself. Yet all the other laws must lead to this. For enemies do not give willingly to one another, nor would they seek to share the things they value. And what your enemies would keep from you must be worth having, because they keep it hidden from your sight.

All of the mechanisms of madness are seen emerging here: the “enemy” made strong by keeping hidden the valuable inheritance that should be yours; your justified position and attack for what has been withheld; and the inevitable loss the enemy must suffer to save yourself. Thus do the guilty ones protest their “innocence.” Were they not forced into this foul attack by the unscrupulous behavior of the enemy, they would respond with only kindness. But in a savage world the kind cannot survive, so they must take or else be taken from.

And now there is a vague unanswered question, not yet “explained.” What is this precious thing, this priceless pearl, this hidden secret treasure, to be wrested in righteous wrath from this most treacherous and cunning enemy? It must be what you want but never found. And now you “understand” the reason why you found it not. For it was taken from you by this enemy, and hidden where you would not think to look. He hid it in his body, making it the cover for his guilt, the hiding place for what belongs to you. Now must his body be destroyed and sacrificed, that you may have that which belongs to you. His treachery demands his death, that you may live. And you attack only in self-defense.

But what is it you want that needs his death? Can you be sure your murderous attack is justified unless you know what it is for? And here a final principle of chaos comes to the “rescue.” It holds there is a substitute for love. This is the magic that will cure all of your pain; the missing factor in your madness that makes it “sane.” This is the reason why you must attack. Here is what makes your vengeance justified. Behold, unveiled, the ego’s secret gift, torn from your brother’s body, hidden there in malice and in hatred for the one to whom the gift belongs. He would deprive you of the secret ingredient that would give meaning to your life. The substitute for love, born of your enmity to your brother, must be salvation. It has no substitute, and there is only one. And all your relationships have but the purpose of seizing it and making it your own.

Never is your possession made complete. And never will your brother cease his attack on you for what you stole. Nor will God end His vengeance upon both, for in His madness He must have this substitute for love, and kill you both. You who believe you walk in sanity with feet on solid ground, and through a world where meaning can be found, consider this: These are the laws on which your “sanity” appears to rest. These are the principles which make the ground beneath your feet seem solid. And it is here you look for meaning. These are the laws you made for your salvation. They hold in place the substitute for Heaven which you prefer. This is their purpose; they were made for this. There is no point in asking what they mean. That is apparent. The means of madness must be insane. Are you as certain that you realize the goal is madness?

No one wants madness, nor does anyone cling to his madness if he sees that this is what it is. What protects madness is the belief that it is true. It is the function of insanity to take the place of truth. It must be seen as truth to be believed. And if it is the truth, then must its opposite, which was the truth before, be madness now. Such a reversal, completely turned around, with madness sanity, illusions true, attack a kindness, hatred love, and murder benediction, is the goal the laws of chaos serve. These are the means by which the laws of God appear to be reversed. Here do the laws of sin appear to hold love captive, and let sin go free.

These do not seem to be the goals of chaos, for by the great reversal they appear to be the laws of order. How could it not be so? Chaos is lawlessness, and has no laws. To be believed, its seeming laws must be perceived as real. Their goal of madness must be seen as sanity. And fear, with ashen lips and sightless eyes, blinded and terrible to look upon, is lifted to the throne of love, its dying conqueror, its substitute, the savior from salvation. How lovely do the laws of fear make death appear. Give thanks unto the hero on love’s throne, who saved the Son of God for fear and death!

And yet, how can it be that laws like these can be believed? There is a strange device that makes it possible. Nor is it unfamiliar; we have seen how it appears to function many times before. In truth it does not function, yet in dreams, where only shadows play the major roles, it seems most powerful. No law of chaos could compel belief but for the emphasis on form and disregard of content. No one who thinks that one of these laws is true sees what it says. Some forms it takes seem to have meaning, and that is all.

How can some forms of murder not mean death? Can an attack in any form be love? What form of condemnation is a blessing? Who makes his savior powerless and finds salvation? Let not the form of the attack on him deceive you. You cannot seek to harm him and be saved. Who can find safety from attack by turning on himself? How can it matter what the form this madness takes? It is a judgment that defeats itself, condemning what it says it wants to save. Be not deceived when madness takes a form you think is lovely. What is intent on your destruction is not your friend.

You would maintain, and think it true, that you do not believe these senseless laws, nor act upon them. And when you look at what they say, they cannot be believed. Brother, you do believe them. For how else could you perceive the form they take, with content such as this? Can any form of this be tenable? Yet you believe them for the form they take, and do not recognize the content. It never changes. Can you paint rosy lips upon a skeleton, dress it in loveliness, pet it and pamper it, and make it live? And can you be content with an illusion that you are living?

There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion. At best it seems like life; at worst, like death. Yet both are judgments on what is not life, equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere. Outside of Heaven, only the conflict of illusion stands; senseless, impossible and beyond all reason, and yet perceived as an eternal barrier to Heaven. Illusions are but forms. Their content is never true.

The laws of chaos govern all illusions. Their forms conflict, making it seem quite possible to value some above the others. Yet each one rests as surely on the belief the laws of chaos are the laws of order as do the others. Each one upholds these laws completely, offering a certain witness that these laws are true. The seeming gentler forms of the attack are no less certain in their witnessing, or their results. Certain it is illusions will bring fear because of the beliefs that they imply, not for their form. And lack of faith in love, in any form, attests to chaos as reality.

From the belief in sin, the faith in chaos must follow. It is because it follows that it seems to be a logical conclusion; a valid step in ordered thought. The steps to chaos do follow neatly from their starting point. Each is a different form in the progression of truth’s reversal, leading still deeper into terror and away from truth. Think not one step is smaller than another, nor that return from one is easier. The whole descent from Heaven lies in each one. And where your thinking starts, there must it end.

Brother, take not one step in the descent to hell. For having taken one, you will not recognize the rest for what they are. And they will follow. Attack in any form has placed your foot upon the twisted stairway that leads from Heaven. Yet any instant it is possible to have all this undone. How can you know whether you chose the stairs to Heaven or the way to hell? Quite easily. How do you feel? Is peace in your awareness? Are you certain which way you go? And are you sure the goal of Heaven can be reached? If not, you walk alone. Ask, then, your Friend to join with you, and give you certainty of where you go.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 23

Lesson 204

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

(184) The Name of God is my inheritance.

God’s Name reminds me that I am His Son, not slave to
time, unbound by laws which rule the world of sick illusions,
free in God, forever and forever one with Him.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #279: I know that, as A Course in Miracles says, all illness is a defense against truth. Are you aware of any case of someone who, after many years of continuous study and practice of the Course, started to feel an abstract fear of this apparent reality, like losing his mind — agoraphobic-like symptoms?

A: It is not surprising that fear may appear to become more intense as we work with the Course over time. We are after all in the process of removing all the many defenses we have constructed to minimize fear in our awareness and to disguise it as other seemingly more manageable feelings, such as anger or excitement.

Jesus is well aware that our fear will seem to increase over time as we study and apply his Course: “You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death” (T.3.VII.5:9,10,11). And later in the text: “As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror” (T.18.III.2:1).

The form that our increased fear may take will in most cases keep our focus on the external world and on threat to the body’s life and well-being, since that is the identity as egos we are trying to maintain. Agoraphobia is certainly a specific form in which the fear could be expressed, as the experience of oneness that the Course is leading us towards is one of no limits or boundaries — the ultimate spaciousness, if you will.

No matter what form the fear takes, the answer is always the same. All fear ultimately comes from the belief that we have attacked and destroyed love and that we will be attacked and destroyed in return. If we can quiet our minds just enough to ask for help, joining with the presence of love that has remained always there despite our beliefs, we will know that love cannot be destroyed, and so neither the guilt of attack nor the punishment we have believed it calls for are true. In the words that conclude the introduction to the text, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God” (T.in.2:2,3,4).

You do not say whether this is simply a theoretical question you are asking or whether you are describing your own or someone else’s actual experience. If the latter is the case, should the symptoms persist and continue to be unsettling and problematic, it is always a wise course of action to see a professional therapist for help in alleviating the symptoms.


Q #280: Is there a positive form of denial? Would denying the countless, tiny, fearful, negative thoughts that bombard me throughout the day be one way of applying, in practical terms, what Jesus calls, “Denial of Error”?

A: It depends on what you mean by denying. If you mean that you are aware that they are there and that you (as the decision maker) are responsible for them, but then you deny their power to take away your peace or change your reality as God’s Son, then you are using denial in a helpful, positive way. Then you would be denying the error, or denying the denial of truth (T.12.II.1:5). The mistake we all made was to take the “tiny, mad idea” of separation seriously, instead of smiling at the silliness and insanity of believing that we could exist as separate individuals apart from God (T.27.VIII.6). We repeat this mistake every time we judge our ego thoughts to be so awful and so bothersome that we need to repress them or escape from them. We correct that mistake every time we look squarely at our ego thoughts, and remember that the only power they have is the power we give to them by our belief that they define us and that they can truly affect us. So that we don’t skip steps, then, we first must deny their seeming power. And we can do that most effectively by looking at them with the love of Jesus next to us. As that love becomes more and more real to us, our ego thoughts will become less and less real to us. And then one day we will simply regard them as meaningless, as we will have finally accepted the love of Jesus as the only reality in our minds.

sun of god guiltless

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 20

ACIM Text Reading for July 20

Chapter 23 ~ The War Against Yourself

III. The Laws of Chaos
The “laws” of chaos can be brought to light, though never understood. Chaotic laws are hardly meaningful, and therefore out of reason’s sphere. Yet they appear to be an obstacle to reason and to truth. Let us, then, look upon them calmly, that we may look beyond them, understanding what they are, not what they would maintain. It is essential it be understood what they are for, because it is their purpose to make meaningless, and to attack the truth. Here are the laws that rule the world you made. And yet they govern nothing, and need not be broken; merely looked upon and gone beyond.

The first chaotic law is that the truth is different for everyone. Like all these principles, this one maintains that each is separate and has a different set of thoughts that set him off from others. This principle evolves from the belief there is a hierarchy of illusions; some are more valuable and therefore true. Each one establishes this for himself, and makes it true by his attack on what another values. And this is justified because the values differ, and those who hold them seem to be unlike, and therefore enemies.

Think how this seems to interfere with the first principle of miracles. For this establishes degrees of truth among illusions, making it seem that some of them are harder to overcome than others. If it were realized that they are all the same and equally untrue, it would be easy, then, to understand that miracles apply to all of them. Errors of any kind can be corrected because they are untrue. When brought to truth instead of to each other, they merely disappear. No part of nothing can be more resistant to the truth than can another.

The second law of chaos, dear indeed to every worshipper of sin, is that each one must sin, and therefore deserves attack and death. This principle, closely related to the first, is the demand that errors call for punishment and not correction. For the destruction of the one who makes the error places him beyond correction and beyond forgiveness. What he has done is thus interpreted as an irrevocable sentence upon himself, which God Himself is powerless to overcome. Sin cannot be remitted, being the belief the Son of God can make mistakes for which his own destruction becomes inevitable.

Think what this seems to do to the relationship between the Father and the Son. Now it appears that They can never be One again. For One must always be condemned, and by the Other. Now are They different, and enemies. And Their relationship is one of opposition, just as the separate aspects of the Son meet only to conflict but not to join. One becomes weak, the other strong by his defeat. And fear of God and of each other now appears as sensible, made real by what the Son of God has done both to himself and his Creator.

The arrogance on which the laws of chaos stand could not be more apparent than emerges here. Here is a principle that would define what the Creator of reality must be; what He must think and what He must believe; and how He must respond, believing it. It is not seen as even necessary that He be asked about the truth of what has been established for His belief. His Son can tell Him this, and He has but the choice whether to take his word for it or be mistaken. This leads directly to the third preposterous belief that seems to make chaos eternal. For if God cannot be mistaken, He must accept His Son’s belief in what he is, and hate him for it.

See how the fear of God is reinforced by this third principle. Now it becomes impossible to turn to Him for help in misery. For now He has become the “enemy” Who caused it, to Whom appeal is useless. Nor can salvation lie within the Son, whose every aspect seems to be at war with Him, and justified in its attack. And now is conflict made inevitable, beyond the help of God. For now salvation must remain impossible, because the Savior has become the enemy.

There can be no release and no escape. Atonement thus becomes a myth, and vengeance, not forgiveness, is the Will of God. From where all this begins, there is no sight of help that can succeed. Only destruction can be the outcome. And God Himself seems to be siding with it, to overcome His Son. Think not the ego will enable you to find escape from what it wants. That is the function of this course, which does not value what the ego cherishes.

The ego values only what it takes. This leads to the fourth law of chaos, which, if the others are accepted, must be true. This seeming law is the belief you have what you have taken. By this, another’s loss becomes your gain, and thus it fails to recognize that you can never take away save from yourself. Yet all the other laws must lead to this. For enemies do not give willingly to one another, nor would they seek to share the things they value. And what your enemies would keep from you must be worth having, because they keep it hidden from your sight.

All of the mechanisms of madness are seen emerging here: the “enemy” made strong by keeping hidden the valuable inheritance that should be yours; your justified position and attack for what has been withheld; and the inevitable loss the enemy must suffer to save yourself. Thus do the guilty ones protest their “innocence.” Were they not forced into this foul attack by the unscrupulous behavior of the enemy, they would respond with only kindness. But in a savage world the kind cannot survive, so they must take or else be taken from.

And now there is a vague unanswered question, not yet “explained.” What is this precious thing, this priceless pearl, this hidden secret treasure, to be wrested in righteous wrath from this most treacherous and cunning enemy? It must be what you want but never found. And now you “understand” the reason why you found it not. For it was taken from you by this enemy, and hidden where you would not think to look. He hid it in his body, making it the cover for his guilt, the hiding place for what belongs to you. Now must his body be destroyed and sacrificed, that you may have that which belongs to you. His treachery demands his death, that you may live. And you attack only in self-defense.

But what is it you want that needs his death? Can you be sure your murderous attack is justified unless you know what it is for? And here a final principle of chaos comes to the “rescue.” It holds there is a substitute for love. This is the magic that will cure all of your pain; the missing factor in your madness that makes it “sane.” This is the reason why you must attack. Here is what makes your vengeance justified. Behold, unveiled, the ego’s secret gift, torn from your brother’s body, hidden there in malice and in hatred for the one to whom the gift belongs. He would deprive you of the secret ingredient that would give meaning to your life. The substitute for love, born of your enmity to your brother, must be salvation. It has no substitute, and there is only one. And all your relationships have but the purpose of seizing it and making it your own.

Never is your possession made complete. And never will your brother cease his attack on you for what you stole. Nor will God end His vengeance upon both, for in His madness He must have this substitute for love, and kill you both. You who believe you walk in sanity with feet on solid ground, and through a world where meaning can be found, consider this: These are the laws on which your “sanity” appears to rest. These are the principles which make the ground beneath your feet seem solid. And it is here you look for meaning. These are the laws you made for your salvation. They hold in place the substitute for Heaven which you prefer. This is their purpose; they were made for this. There is no point in asking what they mean. That is apparent. The means of madness must be insane. Are you as certain that you realize the goal is madness?

No one wants madness, nor does anyone cling to his madness if he sees that this is what it is. What protects madness is the belief that it is true. It is the function of insanity to take the place of truth. It must be seen as truth to be believed. And if it is the truth, then must its opposite, which was the truth before, be madness now. Such a reversal, completely turned around, with madness sanity, illusions true, attack a kindness, hatred love, and murder benediction, is the goal the laws of chaos serve. These are the means by which the laws of God appear to be reversed. Here do the laws of sin appear to hold love captive, and let sin go free.

These do not seem to be the goals of chaos, for by the great reversal they appear to be the laws of order. How could it not be so? Chaos is lawlessness, and has no laws. To be believed, its seeming laws must be perceived as real. Their goal of madness must be seen as sanity. And fear, with ashen lips and sightless eyes, blinded and terrible to look upon, is lifted to the throne of love, its dying conqueror, its substitute, the savior from salvation. How lovely do the laws of fear make death appear. Give thanks unto the hero on love’s throne, who saved the Son of God for fear and death!

And yet, how can it be that laws like these can be believed? There is a strange device that makes it possible. Nor is it unfamiliar; we have seen how it appears to function many times before. In truth it does not function, yet in dreams, where only shadows play the major roles, it seems most powerful. No law of chaos could compel belief but for the emphasis on form and disregard of content. No one who thinks that one of these laws is true sees what it says. Some forms it takes seem to have meaning, and that is all.

How can some forms of murder not mean death? Can an attack in any form be love? What form of condemnation is a blessing? Who makes his savior powerless and finds salvation? Let not the form of the attack on him deceive you. You cannot seek to harm him and be saved. Who can find safety from attack by turning on himself? How can it matter what the form this madness takes? It is a judgment that defeats itself, condemning what it says it wants to save. Be not deceived when madness takes a form you think is lovely. What is intent on your destruction is not your friend.

You would maintain, and think it true, that you do not believe these senseless laws, nor act upon them. And when you look at what they say, they cannot be believed. Brother, you do believe them. For how else could you perceive the form they take, with content such as this? Can any form of this be tenable? Yet you believe them for the form they take, and do not recognize the content. It never changes. Can you paint rosy lips upon a skeleton, dress it in loveliness, pet it and pamper it, and make it live? And can you be content with an illusion that you are living?

There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion. At best it seems like life; at worst, like death. Yet both are judgments on what is not life, equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere. Outside of Heaven, only the conflict of illusion stands; senseless, impossible and beyond all reason, and yet perceived as an eternal barrier to Heaven. Illusions are but forms. Their content is never true.

The laws of chaos govern all illusions. Their forms conflict, making it seem quite possible to value some above the others. Yet each one rests as surely on the belief the laws of chaos are the laws of order as do the others. Each one upholds these laws completely, offering a certain witness that these laws are true. The seeming gentler forms of the attack are no less certain in their witnessing, or their results. Certain it is illusions will bring fear because of the beliefs that they imply, not for their form. And lack of faith in love, in any form, attests to chaos as reality.

From the belief in sin, the faith in chaos must follow. It is because it follows that it seems to be a logical conclusion; a valid step in ordered thought. The steps to chaos do follow neatly from their starting point. Each is a different form in the progression of truth’s reversal, leading still deeper into terror and away from truth. Think not one step is smaller than another, nor that return from one is easier. The whole descent from Heaven lies in each one. And where your thinking starts, there must it end.

Brother, take not one step in the descent to hell. For having taken one, you will not recognize the rest for what they are. And they will follow. Attack in any form has placed your foot upon the twisted stairway that leads from Heaven. Yet any instant it is possible to have all this undone. How can you know whether you chose the stairs to Heaven or the way to hell? Quite easily. How do you feel? Is peace in your awareness? Are you certain which way you go? And are you sure the goal of Heaven can be reached? If not, you walk alone. Ask, then, your Friend to join with you, and give you certainty of where you go.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 20

Lesson 201
REVIEW VI
Introduction

For this review we take but one idea each day, and practice it as often as is possible. Besides the time you give morning and evening, which should not be less than fifteen minutes, and the hourly remembrances you make throughout the day, use the idea as often as you can between them. Each of these ideas alone would be sufficient for salvation, if it were learned truly. Each would be enough to give release to you and to the world from every form of bondage, and invite the memory of God to come again.

With this in mind we start our practicing, in which we carefully review the thoughts the Holy Spirit has bestowed on us in our last twenty lessons. Each contains the whole curriculum if understood, practiced, accepted, and applied to all the seeming happenings throughout the day. One is enough. But from that one, there must be no exceptions made. And so we need to use them all and let them blend as one, as each contributes to the whole we learn.

These practice sessions, like our last review, are centered round a central theme with which we start and end each lesson. It is this:

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

The day begins and ends with this. And we repeat it every time the hour strikes, or we remember, in between, we have a function that transcends the world we see. Beyond this, and a repetition of the special thought we practice for the day, no form of exercise is urged, except a deep relinquishment of everything that clutters up the mind, and makes it deaf to reason, sanity and simple truth.

We will attempt to get beyond all words and special forms of practicing for this review. For we attempt, this time, to reach a quickened pace along a shorter path to the serenity and peace of God. We merely close our eyes, and then forget all that we thought we knew and understood. For thus is freedom given us from all we did not know and failed to understand.

There is but one exception to this lack of structuring. Permit no idle thought to go unchallenged. If you notice one, deny its hold and hasten to assure your mind that this is not what it would have. Then gently let the thought which you denied be given up, in sure and quick exchange for the idea we practice for the day.

When you are tempted, hasten to proclaim your freedom from temptation, as you say:

This thought I do not want. I choose instead _____.

And then repeat the idea for the day, and let it take the place of what you thought. Beyond such special applications of each day’s idea, we will add but a few formal expressions or specific thoughts to aid in practicing. Instead, we give these times of quiet to the Teacher Who instructs in quiet, speaks of peace, and gives our thoughts whatever meaning they may have.

To Him I offer this review for you. I place you in His charge, and let Him teach you what to do and say and think, each time you turn to Him. He will not fail to be available to you, each time you call to Him to help you. Let us offer Him the whole review we now begin, and let us also not forget to Whom it has been given, as we practice day by day, advancing toward the goal He set for us; allowing Him to teach us how to go, and trusting Him completely for the way each practice period can best become a loving gift of freedom to the world.

Lesson 201

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

(181)  I trust my brothers, who are one with me.

No one but is my brother. I am blessed with oneness with
the universe and God, my Father, one Creator of the whole
that is my Self, forever One with me.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

No one but is my brother. I am blessed with oneness with
the universe and God, my Father, one Creator of the whole
that is my Self, forever One with me.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #142: I have been a keen student of A Course in Miracles for a good 12 years and find it the most appropriate spiritual path for me. Thinking of Jesus and his teachings has become a part of my life, a way of consciously forgiving myself and thus of course others as well. I also accept fully that all pain is some form of unforgiveness (“Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness” [W.pI.193.4:1]). Now regardless of my practice, which is almost on a continual and absolutely unforced basis, parallel to whatever else I may be occupied with, various aches and pains and other ailments do occur at a level which makes me question the efficacy of my practice — my only choice then remaining the same old magic, usually a pain killer. Even ardently repeating a maxim like “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me” [W.pI.rVI.3:3,4,5] during an attack seems quite ineffective. Is it basically still a very fearful subconscious that is at the bottom of this, or is it the ego taking me for a ride and having me believe that I have forgiven myself more than I really have?

A: You’re trying so very hard, but you also want to be gentle and patient with yourself. It would be helpful not to try to evaluate your progress based on any feedback you feel your body is giving you. Aches and pains always reveal unhealed areas in the mind, and in that sense it is helpful to pay attention to them, but not as a yardstick against which to judge how well you are practicing forgiveness and whether you are passing or failing the Course.

Yes, there is still fear, as well as guilt, buried in your subconscious mind, and yes, your ego will always want to fool you about your progress, but also your lack of progress (T.18.V.1:5,6). All of that is to be expected while you still identify yourself as the body which has the name you answer to. For seeing yourself as a body means you still believe that the separation and its accompanying guilt are real and you still believe you need a defense against that guilt, which is the purpose the body serves. The pain, apparently in the body, is intended to distract you from its real source in the mind. So if you are willing to make the connection back to the mind and see the cause — unforgiveness — that is all you really need do.

If there is a pain killer that seems to be helpful in relieving your pain, by all means continue to use it. So what if it is not the ultimate healing? Know that Jesus is not judging you for what you may see as your weakness and inability to forgive completely. Taking medication is a gentler and more loving way of dealing with your pain than trying to persuade yourself that the pain is not real by using words from the Course as affirmations to shout down the ego and cover over what you still believe about yourself — that you are a body. It will always be more helpful simply to get in touch with what you still believe and why, knowing, as you suggest, that it is only fear that holds you in those beliefs. By acknowledging and looking at the fear, you will be doing your part in its healing.

For a further consideration of issues related to the questions you raise, you may wish to look at Question #128.

Q #143: I know that A Course in Miracles is not aimed at the level of behavior and it indicates that depression is an attempt to attack God. Therefore, I have been angry with myself for being depressed about the war with Iraq, thinking that I should be “above” that. Was it wrong that I had hoped that peace would prevail on a physical level? Is it an indication of my specialness that I am depressed that it hasn’t?

A: It is quite normal to hope that peace would prevail on a physical level; and many other people have also felt depressed about the war and about the world situation in general. The only mistake you are making is being angry with yourself and thinking that you should be beyond depression.

In connecting depression with blasphemy (T.10.V), Jesus is calling our attention, in a dramatic way, to the effects in our minds of giving our allegiance to the ego (specifically the god of sickness), rather than to his healing love. When you become depressed, all that you have done is identify with your ego’s view of things. But, more than likely, you identify with the ego in many other ways throughout the day. So why would you be surprised by this form? It is easy to forget that simply feeling scared when your supply of oxygen is cut off is an ego reaction. We have ego reactions all the time, and it is a mistake to have a hierarchy among them. Any time you are tempted to judge yourself by feeling you should be beyond a, b, or c, you should stop right there and remind yourself that that judgment is coming from your ego, and therefore should not be taken seriously. In his kind and gentle guidance of us, Jesus would never utter those words of judgment.

Wanting there to be peace in the world is quite normal, to repeat; but it can also be viewed in the context of your special relationship with your identity as an individual in “your” world. In this sense, your identity as an individual would be more secure and less problematic if there were no conflicts in the world. The impatience and depression about the turmoil might be reminding you of the profound insecurity you feel on a deep level, because, somewhere in your mind, you know that your existence as an individual is not authentic. In your wrong/ego mind you believe (as we all do) that your existence came at God’s expense. A world without major upheavals thus can be a defense against that insecurity, which is always present in the mind that believes it has separated from God. Also, since we are the ones who made the world to replace our true home in Heaven — thereby saying that we could get along without God just fine — then when the world “doesn’t work right,” we would feel as if we had failed. Depression would be one response to that sense of failure, for once again we have been reminded that we have denied God (blasphemy).

On the other hand, for some people, being preoccupied with the chaos and strife in the world protects them from having to deal with the chaos and strife in their minds. But this defense, as is the case with all defenses, reinforces their unconscious guilt, because they would then want there to be calamities in the world to serve their own need for protection from their minds.

The good news that Jesus imparts to us in the Course is that true peace is not dependent on anything external in order to be what it is. He helps us realize that peace in the world, even it were achieved, would always be a fragile peace, and therefore would not bring us the comfort we long for. It would depend on the presence of specific conditions, and it would require guardians, or a “peace-keeping force,” as governments typically describe them. The peace of mind that Jesus offers us is simply restored to us; it is not something we must earn. And, thankfully, it is restored simply by our choosing against the interferences to its presence, which means that we must first become aware of how we interfere with it, and how we defend against it. This would be our own personal “peace-keeping force” — our ongoing vigilance for our attacks against our Self. Once these interferences are gone, peace will flow through us naturally, but we then would have no investment in how it is extended, or whether it is received by others when offered.

certain as god

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 16

ACIM Text Reading for July 16

Chapter 23 ~ The War Against Yourself

II. The Laws of Chaos

The ‘laws’ of chaos can be brought to light, though never understood. Chaotic laws are hardly meaningful, and therefore out of reason’s sphere. Yet they appear to be an obstacle to reason and to truth. Let us, then, look upon them calmly, that we may look beyond them, understanding what they are, not what they would maintain. It is essential it be understood what they are for, because it is their, purpose to make meaningless, and to attack the truth. Here are the laws that rule the world you made. And yet they govern nothing, and need not be broken; merely looked upon and gone beyond.

The first chaotic law is that the truth is different for everyone. Like all these principles, this one maintains that each is separate and has a different set of thoughts that set him off from others. This principle evolves from the belief there is a hierarchy of illusions; some are more valuable and therefore true. Each one establishes this for himself, and makes it true by his attack on what another values. And this is justified because the values differ, and those who hold them seem to be unlike, and therefore enemies.

Think how this seems to interfere with the first principle of miracles. For this establishes degrees of truth among illusions, making it seem that some of them are harder to overcome than others. If it were realised that they are all the same and equally untrue, it would be easy, then, to understand that miracles apply to all of them. Errors of any kind can be corrected because they are untrue. When brought to truth instead of to each other, they merely disappear. No part of nothing can be more resistant to the truth than can another.
The second law of chaos, dear indeed to every worshipper of sin, is that each one must sin, and therefore deserves attack and death. This principle, closely related to the first, is the demand that errors, call for punishment and not correction. For the destruction of the one who makes the error places him beyond correction and beyond forgiveness. What he has done is thus interpreted as an irrevocable sentence upon himself, which God Himself is powerless to overcome. Sin cannot be remitted, being the belief the Son of God can make mistakes for which his own destruction becomes inevitable.

Think what this seems to do to the relationship between the Father and the Son. Now it appears that they can never be one again. For one must always be condemned, and by the other. Now are they different, and enemies. And their relationship is one of opposition, just as the separate aspects of the Son meet only to conflict but not to join. One becomes weak, the other strong by his defeat. And fear of God and of each other now appears as sensible, made real by what the Son of God has done both to himself and his Creator.

The arrogance on which the laws of chaos stand could not be more apparent than emerges here. Here is a principle that would define what the Creator of reality must be; what He must think and what He must believe; and how He must respond, believing it. It is not seen as even necessary that He be asked about the truth of what has been established for His belief. His Son can tell Him this, and He has but the choice whether to take his word for it or be mistaken. This leads directly to the third preposterous belief that seems to make chaos eternal. For if God cannot be mistaken, He must accept his Son’s belief in what he is, and hate him for it.

See how the fear of God is reinforced by this third principle. Now it becomes impossible to turn to Him for help in misery. For now He has become the ‘enemy’ Who caused it, to Whom appeal is useless. Nor can salvation lie within the Son, whose every aspect seems to be at war with Him, and justified in its attack. And now is conflict made inevitable, beyond the help of God. For now salvation must remain impossible, because the saviour has become the enemy.

There can be no release and no escape. Atonement thus becomes a myth, and vengeance, not forgiveness, is the Will of God. From where all this begins, there is no sight of help that can succeed. Only destruction can be the outcome. And God Himself seems to be siding with it, to overcome His Son. Think not the ego will enable you to find escape from what it wants. That is the function of this course, which does not value what the ego cherishes.

The ego values only what it takes. This leads to the fourth law of chaos, which, if the others are accepted, must be true. This seeming law is the belief you have what you have taken. By this, another’s loss becomes your gain, and thus it fails to recognise that you can never take away save from yourself. Yet all the other laws must lead to this. For enemies do not give willingly to one another, nor would they seek to share the things they value. And what your enemies would keep from you must be worth having, because they keep it hidden from your sight.

All of the mechanisms of madness are seen emerging here: The ‘enemy’ made strong by keeping hidden the valuable inheritance that should be yours; your justified position and attack for what has been withheld; and the inevitable loss the enemy must suffer to save yourself. Thus do the guilty ones protest their ‘innocence’. Were they not forced into this foul attack by the unscrupulous behaviour of the enemy, they would respond with only kindness. But in a savage world the kind cannot survive, so they must take or else be taken from.

And now there is a vague unanswered question, not yet ‘explained’. What is this precious thing, this priceless pearl, this hidden secret treasure, to be wrested in righteous wrath from this most treacherous and cunning enemy? It must be what you want but never found. And now you ‘understand’ the reason why you found it not. For it was taken from you by this enemy, and hidden where you would not think to look. He hid it in his body, making it the cover for his guilt, the hiding place for what belongs to you. Now must his body be destroyed and sacrificed, that you may have that which belongs to you. His treachery demands his death, that you may live. And you attack only in self-defence.

But what is it you want that needs his death? Can you be sure your murderous attack is justified unless you know what it is for? And here a final principle of chaos comes to the ‘rescue’. It holds there is a substitute for love. This is the magic that will cure all of your pain; the missing factor in your madness that makes it ‘sane’. This is the reason why you must attack. Here is what makes your vengeance justified. Behold, unveiled, the ego’s secret gift, torn from your brother’s body, hidden there in malice and in hatred for the one to whom the gift belongs. He would deprive you of the secret ingredient that would give meaning to your life. The substitute for love, born of your enmity to your brother, must be salvation. It has no substitute, and there is only one. And all your relationships have but the purpose of seizing it and making it your own.

Never is your possession made complete. And never will your brother cease his attack on you for what you stole. Nor will God end His vengeance upon both, for in His madness He must have this substitute for love, and kill you both. You who believe you walk in sanity with feet on solid ground, and through a world where meaning can be found, consider this: These are the laws on which your ‘sanity’ appears to rest. These are the principles which make the ground beneath your feet seem solid. And it is here you look for meaning. These are the laws you made for your salvation. They hold in place the substitute for Heaven which you prefer. This is their purpose; they were made for this. There is no point in asking what they mean. That is apparent. The means of madness must be insane. Are you as certain that you realise the goal is madness?

No one wants madness, nor does anyone cling to his madness if he sees that this is what it is. What protects madness is the belief that it is true. It is the function of insanity to take the place of truth. It must be seen as truth to be believed. And if it is the truth, then must its opposite, which was the truth before, be madness now. Such a reversal, completely turned around, with madness sanity, illusions true, attack a kindness, hatred love, and murder benediction, is the goal the laws of chaos serve. These are the means by which the laws of God appear to be reversed. Here do the laws of sin appear to hold love captive, and let sin go free.

These do not seem to be the goals of chaos, for by the great reversal they appear to be the laws of order. How could it not be so? Chaos is lawlessness, and has no laws. To be believed, its seeming laws must be perceived as real. Their goal of madness must be seen as sanity. And fear, with ashen lips and sightless eyes, blinded and terrible to look upon, is lifted to the throne of love, its dying conqueror, its substitute, the saviour from salvation. How lovely do the laws of fear make death appear. Give thanks unto the hero on love’s throne, who saved the Son of God for fear and death!

And yet, how can it be that laws like these can be believed? There is a strange device that makes it possible. Nor is it unfamiliar; we have seen how it appears to function many times before. In truth it does not function, yet in dreams, where only shadows play the major roles, it seems most powerful. No law of chaos could compel belief but for the emphasis on form and disregard of content. No one who thinks that one of these laws is true sees what it says. Some forms it takes seem to have meaning, and that is all.

How can some forms of murder not mean death? Can an attack in any form be love? What form of condemnation is a blessing? Who makes his saviour powerless and finds salvation? Let not the form of the attack on him deceive you. You cannot seek to harm him and be saved. Who can find safety from attack by turning on himself? How can it matter what the form this madness takes? It is a judgement that defeats itself, condemning what it says it wants to save. Be not deceived when madness takes a form you think is lovely. What is intent on your destruction is not your friend.

You would maintain, and think it true, that you do not believe these senseless laws, nor act upon them. And when you look at what they say, they cannot be believed. Brother, you do believe them. For how else could you perceive the form they take, with content such as this? Can any form of this be tenable? Yet you believe them for the form they take, and do not recognise the content. It never changes. Can you paint rosy lips upon a skeleton, dress it in loveliness, pet it and pamper it, and make it live? And can you be content with an illusion that you are living?

There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion. At best it seems like life; at worst, like death. Yet both are judgements on what is not life, equal in their inaccuracy and lack of meaning. Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere. Outside of Heaven, only the conflict of illusion stands; senseless, impossible and beyond all reason, and yet perceived as an eternal barrier to Heaven. Illusions are but forms. Their content is never true.

The laws of chaos govern all illusion. Their forms conflict, making it seem quite possible to value some above the others. Yet each one rests as surely on the belief the laws of chaos are the laws of order as do the others. Each one upholds these laws completely, offering a certain witness that these laws are true. The seeming gentler forms of the attack are no less certain in their witnessing, or their results. Certain it is illusions will bring fear because of the beliefs that they imply, not for their form. And lack of faith in love, in any form, attests to chaos as reality.

From the belief in sin, the faith in chaos must follow. It is because it follows that it seems to be a logical conclusion; a valid step in ordered thought. The steps to chaos do follow neatly from their starting point. Each is a different form in the progression of truth’s reversal, leading still deeper into terror and away from truth. Think not one step is smaller than another, nor that return from one is easier. The whole descent from Heaven lies in each one. And where your thinking starts, there must it end.

Brother, take not one step in the descent to hell. For having taken one, you will not recognise the rest for what they are. And they will, follow. Attack in any form has placed your foot upon the twisted stairway that leads from Heaven. Yet any instant it is possible to have all this undone. How can you know whether you chose the stairs to Heaven or the way to hell? Quite easily. How do you feel? Is peace in your awareness? Are you certain which way you go? And are you sure the goal of Heaven can be reached? If not, you walk alone. Ask, then, your Friend to join with you, and give you certainty of where you go.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 16

Lesson 197
It can be but my gratitude I earn.

Here is the second step we take to free your mind from the belief in outside force pitted against your own. You make attempts at kindness and forgiveness. Yet you turn them to attack again, unless you find external gratitude and lavish thanks. Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn. And so you think God’s gifts are loans at best; at worst, deceptions which would cheat you of defenses, to ensure that when He strikes He will not fail to kill.

How easily are God and guilt confused by those who know not what their thoughts can do. Deny your strength, and weakness must become salvation to you. See yourself as bound, and bars become your home. Nor will you leave the prison house, or claim your strength, until guilt and salvation are not seen as one, and freedom and salvation are perceived as joined, with strength beside them, to be sought and claimed, and found and fully recognized.

The world must thank you when you offer it release from your illusions. Yet your thanks belong to you as well, for its release can only mirror yours. Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. Is it this you would undo by taking back your gifts, because they were not honored? It is you who honor them and give them fitting thanks, for it is you who have received the gifts.

It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you. It does not matter if your gifts seem lost and ineffectual. They are received where they are given. In your gratitude are they accepted universally, and thankfully acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself. And would you take them back, when He has gratefully accepted them?

God blesses every gift you give to Him, and every gift is given Him, because it can be given only to yourself. And what belongs to God must be His Own. Yet you will never realize His gifts are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love and adding to your never-ending joy while you forgive but to attack again.

Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. But learn to let forgiveness take away the sins you think you see outside yourself, and you can never think the gifts of God are lent but for a little while, before He snatches them away again in death. For death will have no meaning for you then.

And with the end of this belief is fear forever over. Thank your Self for this, for He is grateful only unto God, and He gives thanks for you unto Himself. To everyone who lives will Christ yet come, for everyone must live and move in Him. His Being in His Father is secure, because Their Will is One. Their gratitude to all They have created has no end, for gratitude remains a part of love.

Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God. For as you were created, you contain all things within your Self. And you are still as God created you. Nor can you dim the light of your perfection. In your heart the Heart of God is laid. He holds you dear, because you are Himself. All gratitude belongs to you, because of what you are.

Give thanks as you receive it. Be you free of all ingratitude to anyone who makes your Self complete. And from this Self is no one left outside. Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self. All that you do is given unto Him. All that you think can only be His Thoughts, sharing with Him the holy Thoughts of God. Earn now the gratitude you have denied yourself when you forgot the function God has given you. But never think that He has ever ceased to offer thanks to you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #352: I have been reading the text and doing the lessons in A Course In Miracles for the last six months. At this point I am deeply unsettled and in a lot of pain. As a veteran of the 12 steps of AA, I am used to looking at my uglier perceptions honestly, but I seem to be feeling a deeper level of rage and hate and it is not pretty. I feel neither the ego’s pleasure nor the peace of the Holy Spirit. I really do feel of two minds and my decision as to which one to follow feels random and confusing. I feel like I have no idea who I am and what I am doing. I am recently unemployed and have no idea what to do for work now. I have no lover or intimate relationship in my life and haven’t for a long time. My friendships are solid and supportive but I am torn between feeling depressed/angry on the one hand and grateful on the other. I have felt genuine gratitude for the events in my life, even though from a cultural perspective, I may appear not to have much going for me at this time. I am now sinking into a depression over externals and am afraid of being stuck there. I could use some advice.

A: The Course assures us that it can be a gentle path (e.g., T.6.V.2:1; T.14.IX.3:2; T.15.XI.1:5,6; T.19.IV.A.11:6; T.21.I.3:1,2). However, our egos, frightened of the prospect of losing control and being dissolved in love, seem determined to allow the process to be anything but gentle. For the ego thrives on gravity and seriousness and would never want us to take its antics lightly. Know that you are not alone in the struggle you are experiencing.

You speak of feeling that you are of two minds, with your choice between them as random and confusing. One helpful step in your process may be to understand what the Course is calling us to do when it asks us to choose between those two minds — the ego and the Holy Spirit. For most of us, for much of the time, and certainly especially when we are first embarking on this journey, choosing the Holy Spirit will mean very simply learning to look at our ego and all its ugliness without judging it. We are not being asked to deny it, for we still believe it’s real. But if we can look at the ego very honestly, without judging it, it will begin to lose some of its seeming power. Rather than overwhelming, it will begin to appear merely pathetic, even silly. And we will begin increasingly to recognize that our ego does not really make us all that different from everyone else. We all share its insanity and if we feel ashamed of it, it can only be because we are denying that commonality with all our brothers and sisters.

Now obviously, this looking is not something we can do on our own, as you are experiencing. For when we look on our own, which really means looking with our ego — the ego, by definition, is what it means to be on our own — the result can only be pain and despair. They are the ego’s defense against our decision to become willing to lighten up with the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Jesus has asked us to join with him in the process of looking at our egos (e.g., T.11.V.1) because without that gentle presence alongside us, we can only deceive ourselves into believing the horror of what we see in ourselves. Yet Jesus simply smiles at all of it, and perhaps that is why we hesitate turning to him, for we may not be ready to have our egos, while we remain so intimately identified with them, dismissed so lightly.

It is also good to remember that there is no need to force the process, no need to insist on looking more deeply when our fear is too great, for then we only succeed in frightening ourselves, another of the ego’s goals to keep itself alive and kicking. In Jesus’ own gentle, undemanding words, “If you find resistance strong and dedication weak, you are not ready. Do not fight yourself” (T.30.I.1:6,7).

Depression is yet one more weapon in the ego’s arsenal of defenses against the truth about Who we really are. The Course attributes depression to the fact that we are trying to learn an impossible curriculum — finding happiness on the ego’s terms (T.8.VII.8). Yet while we are caught in its downward spiral, it may be that seeking support from others, such as a gentle, accepting therapist, can provide the helping hand we need to pull ourselves out of the quicksand of ego judgments. If you find yourself sinking in your interpretations of your life situation, by all means please consider looking for someone who can help you find a different way of dealing with your circumstances. Again, what is important is to recognize that you are not alone. It can only be your ego that wants you to believe that you are alone and trapped, and the ego is capable only of lies.

You may find some additional thoughts that could be of help to you in your situation in Questions #95 and #313.

be-still-and-know