A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 12

ACIM Text Reading for October 12

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VIII. Changeless Reality

Appearances deceive, but can be changed. Reality is changeless. It does not deceive at all, and if you fail to see beyond appearances you are deceived. For everything you see will change, and yet you thought it real before, and now you think it real again. Reality is thus reduced to form, and capable of change. Reality is changeless. It is this that makes it real, and keeps it separate from all appearances. It must transcend all form to be itself. It cannot change.

The miracle is means to demonstrate that all appearances can change because they are appearances, and cannot have the changelessness reality entails. The miracle attests salvation from appearances by showing they can change. Your brother has a changelessness in him beyond appearance and deception, both. It is obscured by changing views of him that you perceive as his reality. The happy dream about him takes the form of the appearance of his perfect health, his perfect freedom from all forms of lack, and safety from disaster of all kinds. The miracle is proof he is not bound by loss or suffering in any form, because it can so easily be changed. This demonstrates that it was never real, and could not stem from his reality. For that is changeless, and has no effects that anything in Heaven or on earth could ever alter. But appearances are shown to be unreal because they change.

What is temptation but a wish to make illusions real? It does not seem to be the wish that no reality be so. Yet it is an assertion that some forms of idols have a powerful appeal that makes them harder to resist than those you would not want to have reality. Temptation, then, is nothing more than this; a prayer the miracle touch not some dreams, but keep their unreality obscure and give to them reality instead. And Heaven gives no answer to the prayer, nor can a miracle be given you to heal appearances you do not like. You have established limits. What you ask is given you, but not of God Who knows no limits. You have limited yourself.

Reality is changeless. Miracles but show what you have interposed between reality and your awareness is unreal, and does not interfere at all. The cost of the belief there must be some appearances beyond the hope of change is that the miracle cannot come forth from you consistently. For you have asked it be withheld from power to heal all dreams. There is no miracle you cannot have when you desire healing. But there is no miracle that can be given you unless you want it. Choose what you would heal, and He Who gives all miracles has not been given freedom to bestow His gifts upon God’s Son. When he is tempted, he denies reality. And he becomes the willing slave of what he chose instead.

Because reality is changeless is a miracle already there to heal all things that change, and offer them to you to see in happy form, devoid of fear. It will be given you to look upon your brother thus. But not while you would have it otherwise in some respects. For this but means you would not have him healed and whole. The Christ in him is perfect. Is it this that you would look upon? Then let there be no dreams about him that you would prefer to seeing this. And you will see the Christ in him because you let Him come to you. And when He has appeared to you, you will be certain you are like Him, for He is the changeless in your brother and in you.

This will you look upon when you decide there is not one appearance you would hold in place of what your brother really is. Let no temptation to prefer a dream allow uncertainty to enter here. Be not made guilty and afraid when you are tempted by a dream of what he is. But do not give it power to replace the changeless in him in your sight of him. There is no false appearance but will fade, if you request a miracle instead. There is no pain from which he is not free, if you would have him be what he is. Why should you fear to see the Christ in him? You but behold yourself in what you see. As he is healed are you made free of guilt, for his appearance is your own to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 12

Lesson 252

The Son of God is my Identity.

My Self is holy beyond all the thoughts of holiness of which I now conceive. Its shimmering and perfect purity is far more brilliant than is any light that I have ever looked upon. Its love is limitless, with an intensity that holds all things within it, in the calm of quiet certainty. Its strength comes not from burning impulses which move the world, but from the boundless Love of God Himself. How far beyond this world my Self must be, and yet how near to me and close to God!

Father, You know my true Identity. Reveal It now to me who am Your Son, that I may waken to the truth in You, and know that Heaven is restored to me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is the God in A Course in Miracles the same as the God in the Bible?

A) Jesus unequivocally states in the Course that God did not create this world, and thus on this basis alone He is distinctly different from the Judaeo-Christian deity. The biblical God is a dualistic creator of a material universe that he creates by the spoken word, as noted in Genesis’ first account of creation: “And God said, let there be …… Thus this world and all creatures came into existence as separated entities, existing outside of him. In effect, therefore, the biblical God creates by projecting a thought or concept outside himself, where it becomes a physical “reality,” as witnessed, again, in the creation story in the Book of Genesis.

But the distinctions between the two are even more profound. The biblical God is very much a person who sees sin as real, and must therefore respond to it, first by punishment, and then by the plan of the atonement wherein salvation and forgiveness are won through the suffering and sacrifice of his holy Servant (the Suffering Servant in Isaiah — Old Testament) and his only begotten Son Jesus (New Testament). The God of A Course in Miracles, on the other hand, is not a person and therefore has none of the anthropomorphic qualities of homo sapiens. This God does not even know about the separation (the Course’s equivalent of the biblical notion of original sin), and thus does not and cannot respond to it.

Therefore, the God of the Course is not the God of formal religion, and certainly not the God of the Bible. In truth, our Source is beyond all concepts and anthropomorphisms, and has nothing in common with the biblical God who has all the attributes of special love (a God who has a chosen people) and special hate (a God of punishment) that are associated with the ego thought system. The previously mentioned section “The Laws of Chaos” contains a graphic portrait of this biblical God who has made sin real and thus revealed his ego origins, or better, the egos of the writers of the books of the Bible:

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 [the reality of sin]. His Son can tell Him this, and He has but the choice whether to take his word for it or be mistaken…. [But] if God cannot be mistaken, He must accept His Son’s belief in what he is [a sinner], and hate him for it.See how the fear of God is reinforced by this… principle. Now it become impossible to turn to Him for help in misery. For now He has become the “enemy” Who caused it, to Whom appeal is useless …. 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 [the belief in the reality of sin], 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 (T-23.11.6:1-4,6; 7:1-3,5-6; 8:1-5).

This portrait, as is clear, is not only of the archetypal ego god that lies at the heart of every one’s mind who believes in separation, but is also what has been so powerfully expressed in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. This god is a figure, to make the point again, who believes in the reality of sin and in its atonement through punishment, the principal components of which — suffering and sacrifice — become the great plan of salvation or redemption. And as A Course in Miracles teaches, once belief in separation is accorded any reality, it is inevitable in the wrong-minded ego thought system   that the ego’s god be perceived as an avenger. This reflects the ego’s “unholy trinity” of sin, guilt, and fear: The ego thought system posits the separation as accomplished, and calls it sin. Then the psychological experience of sin follows and guilt is born. And now the ego god demands punishment, the origin of fear as we have already seen in the above quotation. And behind all this insanity remains the true God of Love, Who simply “waits” for the minds of His sleeping children to awaken from their nightmare dreams and return to Him Whom they never left.

be of good cheer

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

ACIM Text Reading for October 10 

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VI. The Justification for Forgiveness

Anger is never justified. Attack has no foundation. It is here escape from fear begins, and will be made complete. Here is the real world given in exchange for dreams of terror. For it is on this forgiveness rests, and is but natural. You are not asked to offer pardon where attack is due, and would be justified. For that would mean that you forgive a sin by overlooking what is really there. This is not pardon. For it would assume that, by responding in a way which is not justified, your pardon will become the answer to attack that has been made. And thus is pardon inappropriate, by being granted where it is not due.

Pardon is always justified. It has a sure foundation. You do not forgive the unforgivable, nor overlook a real attack that calls for punishment. Salvation does not lie in being asked to make unnatural responses which are inappropriate to what is real. Instead, it merely asks that you respond appropriately to what is not real by not perceiving what has not occurred. If pardon were unjustified, you would be asked to sacrifice your rights when you return forgiveness for attack. But you are merely asked to see forgiveness as the natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help. Forgiveness is the only sane response. It keeps your rights from being sacrificed.

This understanding is the only change that lets the real world rise to take the place of dreams of terror. Fear cannot arise unless attack is justified, and if it had a real foundation pardon would have none. The real world is achieved when you perceive the basis of forgiveness is quite real and fully justified. While you regard it as a gift unwarranted, it must uphold the guilt you would ‘forgive’. Unjustified forgiveness is attack. And this is all the world can ever give. It pardons ‘sinners’ sometimes, but remains aware that they have sinned. And so they do not merit the forgiveness that it gives.

This is the false forgiveness which the world employs to keep the sense of sin alive. And recognising God is just, it seems impossible His pardon could be real. Thus is the fear of God the sure result of seeing pardon as unmerited. No one who sees himself as guilty can avoid the fear of God. But he is saved from this dilemma if he can forgive. The mind must think of its Creator as it looks upon itself. If you can see your brother merits pardon, you have learned forgiveness is your right as much as his. Nor will you think that God intends for you a fearful judgement that your brother does not merit. For it is the truth that you can merit neither more nor less than he.

Forgiveness recognised as merited will heal. It gives the miracle its strength to overlook illusions. This is how you learn that you must be forgiven too. There can be no appearance that can not be overlooked. For if there were, it would be necessary first there be some sin that stands beyond forgiveness. There would be an error that is more than a mistake; a special form of error that remains unchangeable, eternal, and beyond correction or escape. There would be one mistake that had the power to undo creation, and to make a world that could replace it and destroy the Will of God. Only if this were possible could there be some appearances that could withstand the miracle, and not be healed by it.

There is no surer proof idolatry is what you wish than a belief there are some forms of sickness and of joylessness forgiveness cannot heal. This means that you prefer to keep some idols, and are not prepared, as yet, to let all idols go. And thus you think that some appearances are real and not appearances at all. Be not deceived about the meaning of a fixed belief that some appearances are harder to look past than others are. It always means you think forgiveness must be limited. And you have set a goal of partial pardon and a limited escape from guilt for you. What can this be except a false forgiveness of yourself, and everyone who seems apart from you?

It must be true the miracle can heal all forms of sickness, or it cannot heal. Its purpose cannot be to judge which forms are real, and which appearances are true. If one appearance must remain apart from healing, one illusion must be part of truth. And you could not escape all guilt, but only some of it. You must forgive God’s Son entirely. Or you will keep an image of yourself that is not whole, and will remain afraid to look within and find escape from every idol there. Salvation rests on faith there cannot be some forms of guilt that you cannot forgive. And so there cannot be appearances that have replaced the truth about God’s Son.

Look on your brother with the willingness to see him as he is. And do not keep a part of him outside your willingness that he be healed. To heal is to make whole. And what is whole can have no missing parts that have been kept outside. Forgiveness rests on recognising this, and being glad there cannot be some forms of sickness which the miracle must lack the power to heal.

God’s Son is perfect, or he cannot be God’s Son. Nor will you know him, if you think he does not merit the escape from guilt in all its consequences and its forms. There is no way to think of him but this, if you would know the truth about yourself.

I thank You, Father, for Your perfect Son, and in his glory will I see my own.

Here is the joyful statement that there are no forms of evil that can overcome the Will of God; the glad acknowledgement that guilt has not succeeded by your wish to make illusions real. And what is this except a simple statement of the truth?

Look on your brother with this hope in you, and you will understand he could not make an error that could change the truth in him. It is not difficult to overlook mistakes that have been given no effects. But what you see as having power to make an idol of the Son of God you will not pardon. For he has become to you a graven image and a sign of death. Is this your saviour? Is his Father wrong about His Son? Or have you been deceived in him who has been given you to heal, for your salvation and deliverance?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 10

Lesson 248

Whatever suffers is not part of me.

I have disowned the truth. Now let me be as faithful in disowning falsity. Whatever suffers is not part of me. What grieves is not myself. What is in pain is but illusion in my mind. What dies was never living in reality, and did but mock the truth about myself. Now I disown self-concepts and deceits and lies about the holy Son of God. Now am I ready to accept him back as God created him, and as he is.

Father, my ancient love for You returns, and lets me love Your Son again as well. Father, I am as You created me. Now is Your Love remembered, and my own. Now do I understand that they are one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the nature of reality?

A) Reality as defined by A Course in Miracles is not a physical realm, dimension, or experience, since reality is created by God and as God is formless, changeless, eternal, infinite love, and limitless and unified perfection — a non-dualistic oneness. Reality in the Course is synonymous with Heaven and obviously cannot be related in any way to the universe of form that the world calls reality. Being changeless, true reality is permanent and fixed, and therefore any thought of separation — which ischange — is impossible and thus never was. As a non-dualistic state, reality is beyond perception, since perception presupposes a subject-object dichotomy which is inherently dualistic and so cannot be real. In A Course in Miraclesreality is also synonymous with knowledge, the state of being that is Heaven.

A representative passage from “Changeless Reality” near the end of the text provides a nice summary of the nature of reality:

Reality is changeless. It is this that makes it real, and keeps it separate from all appearances.  It must transcend all form to be itself. It cannot change.The miracle is means to demonstrate that all appearances can change because they are appearances, and cannot have the changelessness reality entails….

Reality is changeless. Miracles but show what you have     interposed between reality and your awareness is unreal, and does not interfere at all (T-30.VIII.1:6-2:1; 4:1-2).

hostage or host

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 9

ACIM Text Reading for October 9

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

IV. The Truth Behind Illusions

You will attack what does not satisfy, and thus you will not see you made it up. You always fight illusions. For the truth behind them is so lovely and so still in loving gentleness, were you aware of it you would forget defensiveness entirely, and rush to its embrace. The truth could never be attacked. And this you knew when you made idols. They were made that this might be forgotten. You attack but false ideas, and never truthful ones. All idols are the false ideas you made to fill the gap you think arose between yourself and what is true. And you attack them for the things you think they represent. What lies beyond them cannot be attacked.

The wearying, dissatisfying gods you made are blown-up children’s toys. A child is frightened when a wooden head springs up as a closed box is opened suddenly, or when a soft and silent woolly bear begins to squeak as he takes hold of it. The rules he made for boxes and for bears have failed him, and have broken his ‘control’ of what surrounds him. And he is afraid, because he thought the rules protected him. Now must he learn the boxes and the bears did not deceive him, broke no rules, nor mean his world is made chaotic and unsafe. He was mistaken. He misunderstood what made him safe, and thought that it had left.

The gap that is not there is filled with toys in countless forms. And each one seems to break the rules you set for it. It never was the thing you thought. It must appear to break your rules for safety, since the rules were wrong. But you are not endangered. You can laugh at popping heads and squeaking toys, as does the child who learns they are no threat to him. Yet while he likes to play with them, he still perceives them as obeying rules he made for his enjoyment. So there still are rules that they can seem to break and frighten him. Yet is he at the mercy of his toys? And can they represent a threat to him?

Reality observes the laws of God, and not the rules you set. It is His laws that guarantee your safety. All illusions that you believe about yourself obey no laws. They seem to dance a little while, according to the rules you set for them. But then they fall and cannot rise again. They are but toys, my child, so do not grieve for them. Their dancing never brought you joy. But neither were they things to frighten you, nor make you safe if they obeyed your rules. They must be neither cherished nor attacked, but merely looked upon as children’s toys without a single meaning of their own. See one in them and you will see them all. See none in them and they will touch you not.

Appearances deceive because they are appearances and not reality. Dwell not on them in any form. They but obscure reality, and they bring fear because they hide the truth. Do not attack what you have made to let you be deceived, for thus you prove that you have been deceived. Attack has power to make illusions real. Yet what it makes is nothing. Who could be made fearful by a power that can have no real effects at all? What could it be but an illusion, making things appear like to itself? Look calmly at its toys, and understand that they are idols which but dance to vain desires. Give them not your worship, for they are not there. Yet this is equally forgotten in attack. God’s Son needs no defence against his dreams. His idols do not threaten him at all. His one mistake is that he thinks them real. What can the power of illusions do?

Appearances can but deceive the mind that wants to be deceived. And you can make a simple choice that will forever place you far beyond deception. You need not concern yourself with how this will be done, for this you cannot understand. But you will understand that mighty changes have been quickly brought about, when you decide one very simple thing; you do not want whatever you believe an idol gives. For thus the Son of God declares that he is free of idols. And thus is he free.

Salvation is a paradox indeed! What could it be except a happy dream? It asks you but that you forgive all things that no one ever did; to overlook what is not there, and not to look upon the unreal as reality. You are but asked to let your will be done, and seek no longer for the things you do not want. And you are asked to let yourself be free of all the dreams of what you never were, and seek no more to substitute the strength of idle wishes for the Will of God.

Here does the dream of separation start to fade and disappear. For here the gap that is not there begins to be perceived without the toys of terror that you made. No more than this is asked. Be glad indeed salvation asks so little, not so much. It asks for nothing in reality. And even in illusions it but asks forgiveness be the substitute for fear. Such is the only rule for happy dreams. The gap is emptied of the toys of fear, and then its unreality is plain. Dreams are for nothing. And the Son of God can have no need of them. They offer him no single thing that he could ever want. He is delivered from illusions by his will, and but restored to what he is. What could God’s plan for his salvation be, except a means to give him to Himself?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 9

Lesson 247

Without forgiveness I will still be blind.

Sin is the symbol of attack. Behold it anywhere, and I will suffer. For forgiveness is the only means whereby Christ’s vision comes to me. Let me accept what His sight shows me as the simple truth, and I am healed completely. Brother, come and let me look on you. Your loveliness reflects my own. Your sinlessness is mine. You stand forgiven, and I stand with you.

So would I look on everyone today. My brothers are Your Sons. Your Fatherhood created them, and gave them all to me as part of You, and my own Self as well. Today I honor You through them, and thus I hope this day to recognize my Self.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What did Bill Thetford have to say about the editing of A Course in Miracles?

A)

The question of editing was brought up in an interview with Bill which was published in the October, 1984 issue of New Realities magazine:

New Realities: There has been some speculation that you and Helen edited the Course.  Did  you?Thetford: No. Bear in mind that at the beginning we didn’t know exactly what  was happening.  So we asked questions of a personal nature and recorded the answers that Helen would receive.  I would type these answers as part of the continuous process, no distinguishing them from the inner dictation that Helen was recording in her shorthand notebook.  Later, when we realized that this material was obviously not a part of the Course itself, we did, indeed, delete it. It is true there has been editing of capitalization, punctuation, paragraphing and section titles in the Text. However, these changes were minor and the Workbook and the Manual for Teachers also appear exactly as they were taken down by Helen.

New Realities: Could you give an example of the personal material you deleted?

Thetford:   Oh, there were questions like, “Is there anything that we should be doing that would increase our ability to meditate better?”  There was also some commentary on psychological theories that got introduced as an intellectual digression at the beginning, which had nothing to do with the Course itself.

New Realities: What’s been the reaction to all of this among your old friends and colleagues?  Sympathetic, supportive, dissociative, concerned?

Thetford: I haven’t been in contact with many of them, although the few I have been in touch with are sympathetic to the material.  I have no idea what the general reaction among my former colleagues would be, nor have I tried to find out.

However, I’m sure most of them would have thought Helen and me crazy at the time if they had known what we were doing.  Bear in mind though, that it all began in 1965, and this is now 1984, when I think there’s a great deal more receptivity to spiritual concepts than there was nineteen years ago.  So perhaps it’s really not quite fair to speculate on this now.

New Realities: At the same time you and Helen didn’t show it to anyone then, you kept it hidden and your activities completely secret.

Thetford: Yes. And I certainly would not have shown it to them. I had more sense than that. My assignment as I saw it was to learn the material myself and not confuse my responsibilities at the Medical Center with our transcription of the Course.

But as I’ve said, this is another, much brighter day.

New Realities: What do you now think about all of this, the fact that you were a special integral part of what some prominent people have referred to A Course In Miracles as one of the most important documents of the century?

Thetford: Quite frankly, Helen and I had no intention of publishing the Course when we were transcribing it. Quite the contrary. The material seemed specifically for our spiritual education.  We regarded it as our “guilty secret,” something we were committed to doing, but at that time there was no indication we were supposed to share it with others.

When we did agree to have it published anonymously, I thought very few people would be interested in changing their perceptions through the methods suggested by the Course—I thought it was too difficult. Certainly in my lifetime, I never expected that thousands of people would regard the Course as their map home.4

teach not that i died in vain

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 7

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 7

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

II. Freedom of Will

Do you not understand that to oppose the Holy Spirit is to fight yourself? He tells you but your will; He speaks for you. In His Divinity is but your own. And all He knows is but your knowledge, saved for you that you may do your will through Him. God asksyou do your will. He joins with you. He did not set His Kingdom up alone. And Heaven itself but represents your will, where everything created is for you. No spark of life but was created with your glad consent, as you would have it be. And not one Thought that God has ever had but waited for your blessing to be born. God is no enemy to you. He asks no more than that He hear you call Him ‘Friend’.

How wonderful it is to do your will! For that is freedom. There is nothing else that ever should be called by freedom’s name. Unless you do your will you are not free. And would God leave His Son without what he has chosen for himself? God but ensured that you would never lose your will when He gave you His perfect Answer. Hear It now, that you may be reminded of His Love and learn your will. God would not have His Son made prisoner to what he does not want. He joins with you in willing you be free. And to oppose Him is to make a choice against yourself, and choose that you be bound.

Look once again upon your enemy, the one you chose to hate instead of love. For thus was hatred born into the world, and thus the rule of fear established there. Now hear God speak to you, through Him Who is His Voice and yours as well, reminding you that it is not your will to hate and be a prisoner to fear, a slave to death, a little creature with a little life. Your will is boundless; it is not your will that it be bound. What lies in you has joined with God Himself in all creation’s birth. Remember Him Who has created you, and through your will created everything. Not one created thing but gives you thanks, for it is by your will that it was born. No light of Heaven shines except for you, for it was set in Heaven by your will.

What cause have you for anger in a world that merely waits your blessing to be free? If you be prisoner, then God Himself could not be free. For what is done to him whom God so loves is done to God Himself. Think not He wills to bind you, Who has made you co-creator of the universe along with Him. He would but keep your will forever and forever limitless. This world awaits the freedom you will give when you have recognised that you are free. But you will not forgive the world until you have forgiven Him Who gave your will to you. For it is by your will the world is given freedom. Nor can you be free apart from Him Whose holy Will you share.

God turns to you to ask the world be saved, for by your own salvation is it healed. And no one walks upon the earth but must depend on your decision, that he learn death has no power over him, because he shares your freedom as he shares your will. It is your will to heal him, and because you have decided with him, he is healed. And now is God forgiven, for you chose to look upon your brother as a friend.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 7

Lesson 245

Your peace is with me, Father.  I am safe.

Your peace surrounds me, Father. Where I go, Your peace goes there with me. It sheds its light on everyone I meet. I bring it to the desolate and lonely and afraid. I give Your peace to those who suffer pain, or grieve for loss, or think they are bereft of hope and happiness. Send them to me, my Father. Let me bring Your peace with me. For I would save Your Son, as is Your Will, that I may come to recognize my Self.

And so we go in peace. To all the world we give the message that we have received. And thus we come to hear the Voice for God, Who speaks to us as we relate His Word; Whose Love we recognize because we share the Word that He has given unto us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What did Ken Wapnick say about reading other versions of A Course in Miracles?

A) Here are Ken’s verbatim words:

“It goes without saying that I do not want people to feel guilty if they buy or read the other versions. People should do whatever they want, as long as it is not hurtful; and contrary to what some people might say, there is no “Pope of the Course.” So, whatever you do with  the Course, what is most important is that it be done without anger, judgment, or feelings of unfair treatment. Those responses are always of the ego. Thus, whatever you do, try to have the motivation be ego free. In that way, whatever you do will be loving.

While some may be tempted to argue about the merits of the different versions, all that is really important is where the Course comes from: everyone’s right mind, which each of us can choose at any point. If you find yourself getting caught up in controversy, thinking the arguments mean something, you will argue and see differences, where in truth there are none. Differences undoubtedly exist in form (the body), but never in content (the mind). Thus there can be no significant differences among those who represent different positions. Seeing differences and making them into something serious is when the ego catches us, for we are remembering not to laugh at the “tiny, mad idea” of separation (T-27.VIII.6:2).

What motivates people to stir up controversy is the need to have there be conflict; and when there is conflict, you know the ego has been invited in. There can be no conflict in one’s right mind, because  there everyone is perceived to be the same. Whatever differences exist, again, are only on the illusory level of the body. Bodies differ. People write different books and say different things; but if you make these differences significant and the object of controversy and conflict, if not war, then you know which voice you are listening to. Our only responsibility is to hear the Voice of peace, and when we do, we recognize that  controversies are like boys and girls playing in a sandbox. But you cannot get sand in your eyes unless you sit down with them and play in the sand. If you stand up as an adult, with Jesus by your side, then whatever is happening in the sandbox is of no consequence to you, which means that nothing that goes on in the world can change the experience of God’s Love in your mind.

Whether or not you agree with the issues generated by the differing versions of A Course in Miracles is irrelevant. Obviously everyone has a position, but that position should not affect your peace, nor your vision that sees everyone involved in the issue as the same. That means that what is going on now with the Course is just another classroom; another way of seeing whether you want to get your hands, feet, and eyes filled with sand, or to be able to stand with Jesus and be at peace. When you choose vision instead of judgment, as Jesus is always asking us to do, you will see that everyone is involved in the same quest for returning to the mind and choosing again, and that everyone is tempted to be afraid of this journey. When people are afraid, they get caught in the sandbox and start playing with its toys as if they were weapons.

The point here is that people should take whatever stand they think is right, but to try not to let it amount to anything. The only position that is truly right is that we all made the same mistake of choosing the wrong teacher, and now we can make the correction by choosing again. That is the only thing that is important. What is happening now is just another opportunity to choose differently—to see shared instead of separate interests.

Your perspective on A Course in Miracles will be warped if you see it in any way as part of the world of separation and form. It is said that the Buddha once remarked: “What are known as the teachings of the Buddha are not the teachings of the Buddha.” And the same can be said for the Course. In other words, A Course in Miracles is not really a book, nor even a body of specific teachings. It is a symbol for the Atonement, the correction for the thought of separation that is in everyone’s mind. When we recognize this, it would be impossible to judge other students, teachers, or the Course vis a vis itself or other spiritualities. We would not accord it any meaning that is fragmenting or separating. This means that we realize that what is holy is not the book, or Helen—her notebooks, pen, or the fingers that held the pen. It is the thought system in our equal minds that is holy. Otherwise the Course becomes just another symbol of specialness and a means of justifying the ego’s projection of guilt in the form of judgment, division, and conflict. Just as Christianity ended up as a religion of hate and even murder, this course could end up like that, too. Unfortunately, its short history already reflects some of the same dynamics of separation, judgment and exclusion.  Yet what else would one expect from the ego? In other words, A Course in Miracles is written by the mind, for the mind—that it correct itself.

Yes, it is important that this communication from Jesus be transmitted accurately, as accurately as is possible, although perfect communication is impossible within the illusion. Yet keep in mind, to say it one more time, that the true communication is not the words, but the love with which Helen joined in her mind, and which is in our own as well—a love that reflects the perfect love and oneness of Heaven. And so, work with whatever symbols are meaningful to you, but do so in such a way that you have no investment in the outcome. Fulfill your function of forgiveness as purely as you can, and what happens after that will not be your concern; otherwise you fall into the ego’s trap of substituting form for content, one of the prime characteristics of special relationships. That is why I keep insisting that A Course in Miracles is not A Course in Miracles—at least not the book or its words. If we can remember the love that is the Course, we will not be taken in by the ego’s seductions of differences and controversy. And when we are able to keep that love pure in ourselves, we will not make the seeming purity of the form so important, recognizing that we are one in content, albeit different in form. And learning to remember that shared content of love in all God’s Sons is the sum and substance of A Course in Miracles.”

Judy_Helen_Kenneth

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 5

ACIM Text Reading for October 5

Chapter 30

THE NEW BEGINNING

Introduction

The new beginning now becomes the focus of the curriculum. The goal is clear, but now you need specific methods for attaining it. The speed by which it can be reached depends on this one thing alone; your willingness to practise every step. Each one will help a little, every time it is attempted. And together will these steps lead you from dreams of judgement to forgiving dreams and out of pain and fear. They are not new to you, but they are more ideas than rules of thought to you as yet. So now we need to practise them awhile, until they are the rules by which you live. We seek to make them habits now, so you will have them ready for whatever need.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 5

Lesson 243

Today I will judge nothing that occurs.

I will be honest with myself today. I will not think that I already know what must remain beyond my present grasp. I will not think I understand the whole from bits of my perception, which are all that I can see. Today I recognize that this is so. And so I am relieved of judgments that I cannot make. Thus do I free myself and what I look upon, to be in peace as God created us.

Father, today I leave creation free to be itself. I honor all its parts, in which I am included. We are one because each part contains Your memory, and truth must shine in all of us as one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Is A Course in Miracles best practiced in seclusion, without worldly
distractions?

A) Upon serious consideration of this question, one would recognize that it makes no sense. Within our individual dreams we are always alone, because there is no world outside our minds. To attempt to separate ourselves from the world, to move apart from it, is simply to fall into the ego’s trap of “making the error real” that we have already discussed. We would have again seen the problem as being outside the mind — in this case the busy and distracting world of separation and multiplicity — and would have therefore made it real, ensuring that it will never be undone. In truth, however, the problem is the busy and distracting thoughts of separation and multiplicity that are in our minds. Attempting to change the outer world to solve the problem of our inner world is a good working definition of what the Course means by magic. And so, by students believing that they can only study and learn A Course in Miracles by leaving the classroom of their lives, they are almost certainly following the guidance of their egos which would see to it that they would never learn their lessons of forgiveness; they had unknowingly separated themselves from them.

While there are always exceptions, we think it is a fair statement to make that almost all students of A Course in Miracles should practice its principles right where they are. That is why Jesus included the following question in the manual for teachers: “Are Changes Required in the Life Situation of God’s Teachers?” His answer explains that for the majority of students, “it is most unlikely that changes in attitudes would not be the first step in the newly made teacher of God’s training” (M-9.1:4). And those who are guided to change their situations “almost immediately,” are “generally special cases” (M-9.1:6).  Naturally, many students of A Course in Miracles think they fall into that special category. Most people’s lives are painful ones, filled with circumstances, relationships, and bodily conditions that are quite traumatic. It is difficult therefore for them to avoid the temptation to reinterpret the Course, or to “hear” the Holy Spirit “tell” them to leave their jobs and/or families, and simply be with Him to learn and teach the Course to others. It is always helpful to remember that there can be no “worldly distractions” unless you first wanted to be distracted, and therefore had a need that this be so. As Jesus states in the text in the context of evil:

Forget not that the witness to the world of evil cannot speak except for what has seen a need for evil in the world (T-27.VII.6:2).

The world, like the body, in and of itself is neutral. It simply does for us what we ask it to do for us.

We frequently like to remind students about the origins of A Course in Miracles. It did not begin in a desert, or a holy mountain top, nor was Helen a cloistered nun, “buried alive for God.” Jesus dictated his Course to Helen in the midst of a very stormy professional relationship with Bill, where both of them were quite busy in their hectic jobs at one of the world’s largest, most prestigious, and most ego-based medical centers, in the heart of what is among the world’s most important and busiest cities.  One’s “training is always highly individualized” (M-9.1:5), yet we believe that A Course in Miracles‘ very history provides a solid witness and example for how its students should apply their little willingness to learn it in the midst of their normal, everyday lives.

you cannot lose your soul

 

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 25

ACIM Text Reading for September 25

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

IX. Changeless Reality

Appearances deceive, but can be changed. Reality is changeless. It does not deceive at all, and if you fail to see beyond appearances you are deceived. For everything you see will change, and yet you thought it real before, and now you think it real again. Reality is thus reduced to form, and capable of change. Reality is changeless. It is this that makes it real, and keeps it separate from all appearances. It must transcend all form to be itself. It cannot change.

The miracle is means to demonstrate that all appearances can change because they are appearances, and cannot have the changelessness reality entails. The miracle attests salvation from appearances by showing they can change. Your brother has a changelessness in him beyond appearance and deception, both. It is obscured by changing views of him that you perceive as his reality. The happy dream about him takes the form of the appearance of his perfect health, his perfect freedom from all forms of lack, and safety from disaster of all kinds. The miracle is proof he is not bound by loss or suffering in any form, because it can so easily be changed. This demonstrates that it was never real, and could not stem from his reality. For that is changeless, and has no effects that anything in Heaven or on earth could ever alter. But appearances are shown to be unreal because they change.

What is temptation but a wish to make illusions real? It does not seem to be the wish that no reality be so. Yet it is an assertion that some forms of idols have a powerful appeal that makes them harder to resist than those you would not want to have reality. Temptation, then, is nothing more than this; a prayer the miracle touch not some dreams, but keep their unreality obscure and give to them reality instead. And Heaven gives no answer to the prayer, nor can a miracle be given you to heal appearances you do not like. You have established limits. What you ask is given you, but not of God Who knows no limits. You have limited yourself.

Reality is changeless. Miracles but show what you have interposed between reality and your awareness is unreal, and does not interfere at all. The cost of the belief there must be some appearances beyond the hope of change is that the miracle cannot come forth from you consistently. For you have asked it be withheld from power to heal all dreams. There is no miracle you cannot have when you desire healing. But there is no miracle that can be given you unless you want it. Choose what you would heal, and He Who gives all miracles has not been given freedom to bestow His gifts upon God’s Son. When he is tempted, he denies reality. And he becomes the willing slave of what he chose instead.

Because reality is changeless is a miracle already there to heal all things that change, and offer them to you to see in happy form, devoid of fear. It will be given you to look upon your brother thus. But not while you would have it otherwise in some respects. For this but means you would not have him healed and whole. The Christ in him is perfect. Is it this that you would look upon? Then let there be no dreams about him that you would prefer to seeing this. And you will see the Christ in him because you let Him come to you. And when He has appeared to you, you will be certain you are like Him, for He is the changeless in your brother and in you.

This will you look upon when you decide there is not one appearance you would hold in place of what your brother really is. Let no temptation to prefer a dream allow uncertainty to enter here. Be not made guilty and afraid when you are tempted by a dream of what he is. But do not give it power to replace the changeless in him in your sight of him. There is no false appearance but will fade, if you request a miracle instead. There is no pain from which he is not free, if you would have him be but what he is. Why should you fear to see the Christ in him? You but behold yourself in what you see. As he is healed are you made free of guilt, for his appearance is your own to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 25

Lesson 268

Let all things be exactly as they are.

Let me not be Your critic, Lord, today, and judge against You. Let me not attempt to interfere with Your creation, and distort it into sickly forms. Let me be willing to withdraw my wishes from its unity, and thus to let it be as You created it. For thus will I be able, too, to recognize my Self as You created me. In love was I created, and in love will I remain forever. What can frighten me, when I let all things be exactly as they are?

Let not our sight be blasphemous today, nor let our ears attend to lying tongues. Only reality is free of pain. Only reality is free of loss. Only reality is wholly safe. And it is only this we seek today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #160: Is there a difference between waking and sleeping dreams as an indication of which thought system and teacher you’ve really chosen, the ego or the Holy Spirit? During my waking dream, I study the principles of A Course in Miracles for hours each day, and try to be in my right mind, willing not to judge myself and others or judge that the world and the body still seem real to me. And so I very often find peace, or the willingness to find peace. But once I go into the sleeping dream, it seems like the ego’s home turf. None of the mind training I’ve been studying and practicing shows up. The dreams are nonsensical, crazy, scary, and have no reflection of any holiness in them. So are my night time dreams really defining what beliefs are in my mind? Do these dreams negate and override my waking dreams? When my mind is healed will the content of both my day and night dreams be the same? Also, would listening to Course-related audio tapes prior to falling asleep and while asleep allow ideas to penetrate into your mind more easily than while awake?

A: If you can remember that the ego’s purpose is always to make differences seem real, you can begin to recognize that your question of differences between your waking and sleeping states is merely another arena in which the ego is attempting to confuse you so it can maintain a grip on your mind. And all the better if it can lead you to question the value and validity of what shifts you are already experiencing in some aspects of your life.

It will be more helpful, rather than believing that there is a qualitative difference between waking and sleeping dreams, to recognize that in some circumstances you remember that you have a choice and in others you forget that you do. For some people, this may be reflected in differences in the intensity of their reactions and their willingness to forgive between their relationships at home and those at work. For others it may be differences in how strong their ego reaction is with one parent in comparison to the other. And in your case, it is a difference between remembering the Holy Spirit during your waking state and your sleeping state. Regardless of the specific circumstances in which the ego seems to have the upper hand, the solution will always be the same. As soon as you recognize that the ego has taken over and that you also have a choice of teachers – – no matter whether it’s in the middle of an ego reaction or sometime later — all you need do is ask for the help that the Holy Spirit offers. And so in your case, whether you remember while you are still asleep or only after you wake up does not matter. All you need to do is recognize that it’s your ego and you can now make a different choice.

Over time, we learn to generalize our lessons of forgiveness to more and more relationships and situations and states of mind. But we need not concern ourselves with why there are differences along the way. Our only concern is to recognize where we are still holding back and then, when we are ready and willing, apply the principles of forgiveness to those thoughts. Clearly, with your sleeping dreams, after you awaken, you know you are only talking about thoughts in your mind and not events that seem to have any reality and long term consequences. The fact that they can still seem to have power simply demonstrates the desire for the ego to be real. So generalizing after you are awake should become easier and easier, and in time you may find yourself beginning to remember the choice you have during your sleeping dreams as well. But whether you remember during the dream itself is not a critical concern, except in your ego’s view. For further discussion of waking vs. sleeping dreams, you may wish to read Question #41.

As to whether there is more of a willingness to learn Course principles when falling asleep or during sleep, there can be no definitive answer, individual differences being what they are. Some students in fact find listening to tapes a great way to help themselves fall asleep!


Q #161: Why is the message of Jesus in A Course in Miracles so different than that of His mother the Virgin Mary in all her apparitions throughout the last century? In her message God is aware of what goes on in this world, and does punish the unfaithful.

A: The people who have experienced apparitions of Mary have heard a message that is compatible with their religious beliefs. In many cases, they are fervent believers with traditional theological views. The two points you mention, that God is aware of happenings in this world, and punishes the unfaithful, are beliefs held by many Christians. For believers, a religious experience such as an apparition by a spiritual being like Mary, deepens and validates their faith. Love would not challenge their belief system, by introducing unfamiliar concepts from a different path, such as A Course in Miracles. As you may know, the Course is a spiritual teaching that is not based on the Bible or traditional Christian or Catholic theology. Although it uses Christian terms, their meaning in the Course is different. However, both Mary’s message, and the message of A Course in Miracles can be experienced as loving and helpful teachings for their respective followers. They may be similar in content though not at all similar in form. In form they are, as you say, very different. That is because they are two very different spiritual thought systems with different theological beliefs. It is important to remember that thoughts and beliefs are not truth; they are expressions or reflections of it. Jesus and Mary represent a truth that is beyond any of the forms that may give it expression. Truth uses different forms, at different times, for different people. This does not contradict the content of the message, the purpose of which is to lead us back to our home in God. As we are told in the Course: “Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one. Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change. But they have names which differ for a time, for time needs symbols, being itself unreal” (C.5.1:3,4,5).

Neither the theological views nor the specific beliefs is what is important. What matters is the love that is being expressed by a spiritual teacher, and the helpfulness of the teaching. If our concern is that God be sure to punish the unfaithful, we are missing the point ourselves. The important thing is that we be faithful to the beliefs taught by our spiritual path, with a fervent desire to return to God. If a person accepts the love that inspires their specific religious belief system and learns to truly live that love themselves, in the end it does not matter whether they began their journey out of fear of God’s punishment, or because they were seeking God’s peace. It is the experience that is important. The Course tells us: “A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary” (C.in.2:5). There are many paths, many faiths, many forms of expression, but one truth, one God.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 24

ACIM Text Reading for September 24

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VIII. The New Interpretation

Would God have left the meaning of the world to your interpretation? If He had, it has no meaning. For it cannot be that meaning changes constantly, and yet is true. The Holy Spirit looks upon the world as with one purpose, changelessly established. And no situation can affect its aim, but must be in accord with it. For only if its aim could change with every situation could each one be open to interpretation which is different every time you think of it. You add an element into the script you write for every minute in the day, and all that happens now means something else. You take away another element, and every meaning shifts accordingly.

What do your scripts reflect except your plans for what the day should be? And thus you judge disaster and success, advance, retreat, and gain and loss. These judgments all are made according to the roles the script assigns. The fact they have no meaning in themselves is demonstrated by the ease with which these labels change with other judgments, made on different aspects of experience. And then, in looking back, you think you see another meaning in what went before. What have you really done, except to show there was no meaning there? But you assigned a meaning in the light of goals that change, with every meaning shifting as they change.

Only a constant purpose can endow events with stable meaning. But it must accord one meaning to them all. If they are given different meanings, it must be that they reflect but different purposes. And this is all the meaning that they have. Can this be meaning? Can confusion be what meaning means? Perception cannot be in constant flux, and make allowance for stability of meaning anywhere. Fear is a judgment never justified. Its presence has no meaning but to show you wrote a fearful script, and are afraid accordingly. But not because the thing you fear has fearful meaning in itself.

A common purpose is the only means whereby perception can be stabilized, and one interpretation given to the world and all experiences here. In this shared purpose is one judgment shared by everyone and everything you see. You do not have to judge, for you have learned one meaning has been given everything, and you are glad to see it everywhere. It cannot change because you would perceive it everywhere, unchanged by circumstance. And so you offer it to all events, and let them offer you stability.

Escape from judgment simply lies in this; all things have but one purpose, which you share with all the world. And nothing in the world can be opposed to it, for it belongs to everything, as it belongs to you. In single purpose is the end of all ideas of sacrifice, which must assume a different purpose for the one who gains and him who loses. There could be no thought of sacrifice apart from this idea. And it is this idea of different goals that makes perception shift and meaning change. In one united goal does this become impossible, for your agreement makes interpretation stabilize and last.

How can communication really be established while the symbols that are used mean different things? The Holy Spirit’s goal gives one interpretation, meaningful to you and to your brother. Thus can you communicate with him, and he with you. In symbols that you both can understand the sacrifice of meaning is undone. All sacrifice entails the loss of your ability to see relationships among events. And looked at separately they have no meaning. For there is no light by which they can be seen and understood. They have no purpose. And what they are for cannot be seen. In any thought of loss there is no meaning. No one has agreed with you on what it means. It is a part of a distorted script, which cannot be interpreted with meaning. It must be forever unintelligible. This is not communication. Your dark dreams are but the senseless, isolated scripts you write in sleep. Look not to separate dreams for meaning. Only dreams of pardon can be shared. They mean the same to both of you.

Do not interpret out of solitude, for what you see means nothing. It will shift in what it stands for, and you will believe the world is an uncertain place, in which you walk in danger and uncertainty. It is but your interpretations which are lacking in stability, for they are not in line with what you really are. This is a state so seemingly unsafe that fear must rise. Do not continue thus, my brother. We have one Interpreter. And through His use of symbols are we joined, so that they mean the same to all of us. Our common language lets us speak to all our brothers, and to understand with them forgiveness has been given to us all, and thus we can communicate again.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 24

Lesson 267

My heart is beating in the peace of God.

Surrounding me is all the life that God created in His Love. It calls to me in every heartbeat and in every breath; in every action and in every thought. Peace fills my heart, and floods my body with the purpose of forgiveness. Now my mind is healed, and all I need to save the world is given me. Each heartbeat brings me peace; each breath infuses me with strength. I am a messenger of God, directed by His Voice, sustained by Him in love, and held forever quiet and at peace within His loving Arms. Each heartbeat calls His Name, and every one is answered by His Voice, assuring me I am at home in Him.

Let me attend Your Answer, not my own. Father, my heart is beating in the peace the Heart of Love created. It is there and only there that I can be at home.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #338: I know that if I attack another I will feel guilty and I should ask the Holy Spirit for help if I feel I’ve been attacked. Would this apply equally if I have a behavior such as an addiction that I feel guilty about? If I continue with the behavior I am sure to feel guilty. If I stop the behavior I may not feel guilty, but I really haven’t fixed the problem. What would be the best way to handle this situation? The specific problem I am talking about is overeating.

A: Yes, whether I am attacking another, feeling attacked by another, or attacking myself — which is what an addiction represents — the only appropriate response is to ask the Holy Spirit for help. An addiction is an attack on myself because it says, over and over again, that I am incomplete and must seek outside myself for my completion, a repeated denial that I am the Christ, forever one with Its Source (T.29.VII.2,3,4,6).

All attack, no matter how it is expressed, is nothing more than the projection of the hidden guilt in our minds that the ego insists we must bear because of our (imagined) attack on God at the moment of separation, when we denied our reality as Christ. We’ve convinced ourselves that our guilt is real, but then have attempted to avoid responsibility for it. And so we seek to project the guilt outside our mind so that it seems to reside instead in bodies, our own and others. We keep this dynamic hidden from ourselves, so that the guilt remains protected. But when we ask for help from Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we are really indicating a willingness to accept responsibility (but not blame!) for the way we feel, seeing the external situation now, not as the problem, but rather as an indicator of the guilt that would otherwise remain unconscious in the mind.

And so, as you observe, focusing on changing or controlling the behavior, such as overeating, does not address the real problem. For we are only modifying an external symptom, or effect, of the guilt without addressing the cause, the guilt itself, which, remaining unexamined, we will continue to believe is real. Consequently, we will look to project the unbearable but nevertheless illusory guilt onto some other external form, perhaps another addiction. Early in A Course in Miracles Jesus speaks of how controlling or changing behavior, without addressing the mind, simply produces strain, which is intolerable, leading usually to rage and further projection (T.2.VI.5).

Now this does not mean that there is no value in developing some discipline and bringing out-of- control behavior under control, especially if the addiction is physically or emotionally damaging to us, thereby reinforcing the guilt in our minds. And the choice to bring about a helpful external shift may certainly reflect a real but still perhaps unconscious desire for an inner shift from the ego to the Holy Spirit as our teacher. But at some stage in our learning, we will come to recognize that guilt in the mind is always the only problem. Only through recognizing its inevitable projection out onto the world of form do we begin to become aware of it in our mind, where we can make a meaningful choice for its release.

A single tape by Kenneth Wapnick, as well as a small book transcribed and edited from the tape, both titled Overeating: A Dialogue, explore the issue of overeating in greater depth. The material, while addressing food addictions, can be applied to any addiction, since the content is always the same. There is also additional discussion of addictions from the Course’s perspective in Questions #30 and #57.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 22

ACIM Text Reading for September 22

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VI. The Only Purpose

The real world is the state of mind in which the only purpose of the world is seen to be forgiveness. Fear is not its goal, for the escape from guilt becomes its aim. The value of forgiveness is perceived and takes the place of idols, which are sought no longer, for their “gifts” are not held dear. No rules are idly set, and no demands are made of anyone or anything to twist and fit into the dream of fear. Instead, there is a wish to understand all things created as they really are. And it is recognized that all things must be first forgiven, and then understood.

Here, it is thought that understanding is acquired by attack. There, it is clear that by attack is understanding lost. The folly of pursuing guilt as goal is fully recognized. And idols are not wanted there, for guilt is understood as the sole cause of pain in any form. No one is tempted by its vain appeal, for suffering and death have been perceived as things not wanted and not striven for. The possibility of freedom has been grasped and welcomed, and the means by which it can be gained can now be understood. The world becomes a place of hope, because its only purpose is to be a place where hope of happiness can be fulfilled. And no one stands outside this hope, because the world has been united in belief the purpose of the world is one which all must share, if hope be more than just a dream.

Not yet is Heaven quite remembered, for the purpose of forgiveness still remains. Yet everyone is certain he will go beyond forgiveness, and he but remains until it is made perfect in himself. He has no wish for anything but this. And fear has dropped away, because he is united in his purpose with himself. There is a hope of happiness in him so sure and constant he can barely stay and wait a little longer, with his feet still touching earth. Yet is he glad to wait till every hand is joined, and every heart made ready to arise and go with him. For thus is he made ready for the step in which is all forgiveness left behind.

The final step is God’s, because it is but God Who could create a perfect Son and share His Fatherhood with him. No one outside of Heaven knows how this can be, for understanding this is Heaven itself. Even the real world has a purpose still beneath creation and eternity. But fear is gone because its purpose is forgiveness, not idolatry. And so is Heaven’s Son prepared to be himself, and to remember that the Son of God knows everything his Father understands, and understands it perfectly with Him.

The real world still falls short of this, for this is God’s Own purpose; only His, and yet completely shared and perfectly fulfilled. The real world is a state in which the mind has learned how easily do idols go when they are still perceived but wanted not. How willingly the mind can let them go when it has understood that idols are nothing and nowhere, and are purposeless. For only then can guilt and sin be seen without a purpose, and as meaningless.

Thus is the real world’s purpose gently brought into awareness, to replace the goal of sin and guilt. And all that stood between your image of yourself and what you are, forgiveness washes joyfully away. Yet God need not create His Son again, that what is his be given back to him. The gap between your brother and yourself was never there. And what the Son of God knew in creation he must know again.

When brothers join in purpose in the world of fear, they stand already at the edge of the real world. Perhaps they still look back, and think they see an idol that they want. Yet has their path been surely set away from idols toward reality. For when they joined their hands it was Christ’s hand they took, and they will look on Him Whose hand they hold. The face of Christ is looked upon before the Father is remembered. For He must be unremembered till His Son has reached beyond forgiveness to the Love of God. Yet is the Love of Christ accepted first. And then will come the knowledge They are One.

How light and easy is the step across the narrow boundaries of the world of fear when you have recognized Whose hand you hold! Within your hand is everything you need to walk with perfect confidence away from fear forever, and to go straight on, and quickly reach the gate of Heaven itself. For He Whose hand you hold was waiting but for you to join Him. Now that you have come, would He delay in showing you the way that He must walk with you? His blessing lies on you as surely as His Father’s Love rests upon Him. His gratitude to you is past your understanding, for you have enabled Him to rise from chains and go with you, together, to His Father’s house.

An ancient hate is passing from the world. And with it goes all hatred and all fear. Look back no longer, for what lies ahead is all you ever wanted in your heart. Give up the world! But not to sacrifice. You never wanted it. What happiness have you sought here that did not bring you pain? What moment of content has not been bought at fearful price in coins of suffering? Joy has no cost. It is your sacred right, and what you pay for is not happiness. Be speeded on your way by honesty, and let not your experiences here deceive in retrospect. They were not free from bitter cost and joyless consequence.

Do not look back except in honesty. And when an idol tempts you, think of this:

There never was a time an idol brought
You anything except the “gift” of guilt.
Not one was bought except at cost of pain,
Nor was it ever paid by you alone.

Be merciful unto your brother, then. And do not choose an idol thoughtlessly, remembering that he will pay the cost as well as you. For he will be delayed when you look back, and you will not perceive Whose loving hand you hold. Look forward, then, and walk with confidence, with happy hearts that beat in hope and do not pound in fear.

The Will of God forever lies in those whose hands are joined. Until they joined, they thought He was their enemy. But when they joined and shared a purpose, they were free to learn their will is one. And thus the Will of God must reach to their awareness. Nor can they forget for long that it is but their own.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 22

Lesson 265

Creation’s gentleness is all I see.

I have indeed misunderstood the world, because I laid my sins on it and saw them looking back at me. How fierce they seemed! And how deceived was I to think that what I feared was in the world, instead of in my mind alone. Today I see the world in the celestial gentleness with which creation shines. There is no fear in it. Let no appearance of my sins obscure the light of Heaven shining on the world. What is reflected there is in God’s Mind. The images I see reflect my thoughts. Yet is my mind at one with God’s. And so I can perceive creation’s gentleness.

In quiet would I look upon the world, which but reflects Your Thoughts, and mine as well. Let me remember that they are the same, and I will see creation’s gentleness.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1226Please discuss gratitude and A Course in Miracles . Can we be truly grateful for anything more than the opportunity to forgive?

A: If by gratitude for the opportunity to forgive, you mean being grateful to each other for these opportunities, you have touched upon the essence of A Course in Miracles, which is forgiveness. In a recorded workshop called “Our Gratitude to God,” Ken discusses gratitude on three levels: our gratitude to God, to Jesus, and to each other. Just as forgiveness is the correction for the unforgiveness we feel, gratitude, too, is a correction. It corrects the ingratitude we feel on these three levels, and when our ingratitude is corrected, the need for gratitude disappears. This has nothing to do with Jesus or God needing our gratitude (see T.6.I.17 ) — it is just another dimension in the process of undoing the ego thought system in our minds. If ingratitude is seen as a cornerstone of the ego system, basically going hand in hand with judgment, attack, fear, and guilt, then love must come when we undo the ingratitude and allow ourselves to feel grateful to each other, to Jesus, and to God, because love has been hidden behind the ingratitude. Ingratitude is like a veil, and therefore, when the veil is gone, the Love of God can be experienced.

In brief, the gratitude the Course asks us to feel toward each other is not for what you do for me or for the miserable way you have treated me. It is gratitude for being able to see in you a mirror of my own self. Seeing the “sin” in you, I know it is within me, and by changing my mind about you, I am changing my mind about myself. That is the source of our gratitude toward each other. Yet, I cannot forgive you without a loving Presence next to me, and so my gratitude to you is impossible without my also feeling grateful to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. I realize, in other words, that I cannot change my mind by myself, because it is my self that got me into this mess, that has accused you, and that believes I can do it on my own. Relying on this self will only serve to keep me in hell. Thus, I recognize not only that I cannot do this without Jesus, but also that I cannot do it without you, because you represent a part of my self that I have split off and pushed outside me. And until I recognize that you are not outside me, but are really a part of me, I will never know the Christ that I am. “Your function here on earth is only to forgive him, that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him” (W.pI.192.10:6,7,8,9).

As we advance in this process of undoing the ego, our gratitude to Jesus will grow as we realize that despite all the awful ego stuff that goes on inside us, part of us knows he truly loves us, and that by accepting his love, we can accept the love that we are. This, then, does away with the ingratitude we have felt toward God, thanks to our acceptance of the ego’s replacement for the true God. By reflecting Heaven’s love in his relationship with us, Jesus helps us remember the deep gratitude we feel for God as our loving Creator and Source.

For some further commentary, see Question #556, which contrasts the ego’s version of gratitude with the Holy Spirit’s. Excerpts from the tape album “Our Gratitude to God” are posted on our Web site under Teaching Materials/Excerpts Series.

forgiveness is still


 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 21

ACIM Text Reading for September 21

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

V. The Truth behind Illusions

You will attack what does not satisfy, and thus you will not see you made it up. You always fight illusions. For the truth behind them is so lovely and so still in loving gentleness, were you aware of it you would forget defensiveness entirely, and rush to its embrace. The truth could never be attacked. And this you knew when you made idols. They were made that this might be forgotten. You attack but false ideas, and never truthful ones. All idols are the false ideas you made to fill the gap you think arose between yourself and what is true. And you attack them for the things you think they represent. What lies beyond them cannot be attacked.

The wearying, dissatisfying gods you made are blown-up children’s toys. A child is frightened when a wooden head springs up as a closed box is opened suddenly, or when a soft and silent woolly bear begins to squeak as he takes hold of it. The rules he made for boxes and for bears have failed him, and have broken his “control” of what surrounds him. And he is afraid, because he thought the rules protected him. Now must he learn the boxes and the bears did not deceive him, broke no rules, nor mean his world is made chaotic and unsafe. He was mistaken. He misunderstood what made him safe, and thought that it had left.

The gap that is not there is filled with toys in countless forms. And each one seems to break the rules you set for it. It never was the thing you thought. It must appear to break your rules for safety, since the rules were wrong. But you are not endangered. You can laugh at popping heads and squeaking toys, as does the child who learns they are no threat to him. Yet while he likes to play with them, he still perceives them as obeying rules he made for his enjoyment. So there still are rules that they can seem to break and frighten him. Yet is he at the mercy of his toys? And can they represent a threat to him?

Reality observes the laws of God, and not the rules you set. It is His laws that guarantee your safety. All illusions that you believe about yourself obey no laws. They seem to dance a little while, according to the rules you set for them. But then they fall and cannot rise again. They are but toys, my child, so do not grieve for them. Their dancing never brought you joy. But neither were they things to frighten you, nor make you safe if they obeyed your rules. They must be neither cherished nor attacked, but merely looked upon as children’s toys without a single meaning of their own. See one in them and you will see them all. See none in them and they will touch you not.

Appearances deceive because they are appearances and not reality. Dwell not on them in any form. They but obscure reality, and they bring fear because they hide the truth. Do not attack what you have made to let you be deceived, for thus you prove that you have been deceived. Attack has power to make illusions real. Yet what it makes is nothing. Who could be made fearful by a power that can have no real effects at all? What could it be but an illusion, making things appear like to itself?

Look calmly at its toys, and understand that they are idols which but dance to vain desires. Give them not your worship, for they are not there. Yet this is equally forgotten in attack. God’s Son needs no defense against his dreams. His idols do not threaten him at all. His one mistake is that he thinks them real. What can the power of illusions do?

Appearances can but deceive the mind that wants to be deceived. And you can make a simple choice that will forever place you far beyond deception. You need not concern yourself with how this will be done, for this you cannot understand. But you will understand that mighty changes have been quickly brought about, when you decide one very simple thing; you do not want whatever you believe an idol gives. For thus the Son of God declares that he is free of idols. And thus is he free.

Salvation is a paradox indeed! What could it be except a happy dream? It asks you but that you forgive all things that no one ever did; to overlook what is not there, and not to look upon the unreal as reality. You are but asked to let your will be done, and seek no longer for the things you do not want. And you are asked to let yourself be free of all the dreams of what you never were, and seek no more to substitute the strength of idle wishes for the Will of God.

Here does the dream of separation start to fade and disappear. For here the gap that is not there begins to be perceived without the toys of terror that you made. No more than this is asked. Be glad indeed salvation asks so little, not so much. It asks for nothing in reality. And even in illusions it but asks forgiveness be the substitute for fear. Such is the only rule for happy dreams. The gap is emptied of the toys of fear, and then its unreality is plain. Dreams are for nothing. And the Son of God can have no need of them. They offer him no single thing that he could ever want. He is delivered from illusions by his will, and but restored to what he is. What could God’s plan for his salvation be, except a means to give him to Himself?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 21

Lesson 264

I am surrounded by the Love of God.

Father, You stand before me and behind, beside me, in the place I see myself, and everywhere I go. You are in all the things I look upon, the sounds I hear, and every hand that reaches for my own. In You time disappears, and place becomes a meaningless belief. For what surrounds Your Son and keeps him safe is Love itself. There is no source but this, and nothing is that does not share its holiness; that stands beyond Your one creation, or without the Love which holds all things within itself. Father, Your Son is like Yourself. We come to You in Your Own Name today, to be at peace within Your everlasting Love.

My brothers, join with me in this today. This is salvation’s prayer. Must we not join in what will save the world, along with us?

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #761If God is “absolute” and “one,” there cannot be anything but Him. How then can there be a Son, and why? Is God dreaming or is the Son? What link if any is there between God and the world — the Holy Spirit or the Son? If this world is an illusion and God hasn’t made it, do angels and other spiritual beings also “not exist”? Do we exist if time was but a moment in our mind and is long gone by, what are the practical implications for our daily lives? Even if we recognize this fact, I don’t feel that this makes any difference in our normal lives. The world does not cease to exist, even if we try.

A: From the perspective of absolute truth, you are right, there can be no Son distinguishable from God (W.pI.132.12:4). It is only within the seeming dream of the sleeping Son that there appear to be two entities, God and the Son. And, unlike some Eastern spiritual teachings, the God of the Course does not dream and the world is not the effect of His dreaming but of the Son’s. The Course speaks of the Son because it is addressed to a mind caught in the misbelief of duality and separation, and so uses the split mind’s symbols to correct the misbelief, while we still believe we are separate (T.25.I.7:4) . See also Questions #27, #72, #85 and #228 for further discussions of how A Course in Miracles comes to us in dualistic language, despite its nondualistic metaphysics.

There is no link between God and the world, for the world is only a shadowy projection of an illusory thought of guilt in the mind. There is however a Link between God and the mind of the Son that seems to have fallen asleep, which the Course calls the Holy Spirit (T.6.I.19:1 T.10.III.2:5,6; T.13.XI.8:1; C.6.3,4) . This link is not a separate entity — although the Course often speaks of the Holy Spirit in this way — but is only the memory of God (T.10.II.2:3,4,5,6) that we would have had to carry with us in our mind into the dream, since we can never separate from God in reality.

Nothing within the realm of duality and separate beings, including angels, has any real existence from the Course’s perspective. The Course does use the concept of angels in a number of places, but only as a symbol of God’s Love (see also Questions #36 and #413ii). That realm of duality also includes the selves we think we are. The “I” is the false self of the ego, the illusory individual self we all cling to as our identity. The Course’s goal, through the process of forgiveness, or letting go of our judgments, is to lead us to a readiness to release all the concepts we hold about ourselves, including, at the very end of the process, the concept that we are an individual self, an “I” — ego is, after all, the Latin word for “I.”

Although the Course’s metaphysics teaches that time is already over, Jesus acknowledges that, as you point out, this is not our experience:“For those in time can speak of things beyond, and listen to words which explain what is to come is past already. Yet what meaning can the words convey to those who count the hours still, and rise and work and go to sleep by them?” (W.169.10:3,4).And yet, in practical terms, as we can allow ourselves to accept the possibility of the idea, even if it is not our immediate experience, it may perhaps help us over time begin to take the specifics of our lives and ourselves just a little less seriously, to have a little less concern about how things turn out, and to be more open merely to watching ourselves move through our lives without trying so obstinately to control the outcomes. All of these would be reflections of a deepening peace that flows from the acceptance of all that is, which forgiveness brings about. And what could be more practical?

secret of salvation

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 20

ACIM Text Reading for September 20

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

IV. Beyond All Idols

Idols are quite specific. But your will is universal, being limitless. And so it has no form, nor is content for its expression in the terms of form. Idols are limits. They are the belief that there are forms that will bring happiness, and that, by limiting, is all attained. It is as if you said, “I have no need of everything. This little thing I want, and it will be as everything to me.” And this must fail to satisfy, because it is your will that everything be yours. Decide for idols and you ask for loss. Decide for truth and everything is yours.

It is not form you seek. What form can be a substitute for God the Father’s Love? What form can take the place of all the love in the Divinity of God the Son? What idol can make two of what is one? And can the limitless be limited? You do not want an idol. It is not your will to have one. It will not bestow on you the gift you seek. When you decide upon the form of what you want, you lose the understanding of its purpose. So you see your will within the idol, thus reducing it to a specific form. Yet this could never be your will, because what shares in all creation cannot be content with small ideas and little things.

Behind the search for every idol lies the yearning for completion. Wholeness has no form because it is unlimited. To seek a special person or a thing to add to you to make yourself complete, can only mean that you believe some form is missing. And by finding this, you will achieve completion in a form you like. This is the purpose of an idol; that you will not look beyond it, to the source of the belief that you are incomplete. Only if you had sinned could this be so. For sin is the idea you are alone and separated off from what is whole. And thus it would be necessary for the search for wholeness to be made beyond the boundaries of limits on yourself.

It never is the idol that you want. But what you think it offers you, you want indeed and have the right to ask for. Nor could it be possible it be denied. Your will to be complete is but God’s Will, and this is given you by being His. God knows not form. He cannot answer you in terms that have no meaning. And your will could not be satisfied with empty forms, made but to fill a gap that is not there. It is not this you want. Creation gives no separate person and no separate thing the power to complete the Son of God. What idol can be called upon to give the Son of God what he already has?

Completion is the function of God’s Son. He has no need to seek for it at all. Beyond all idols stands his holy will to be but what he is. For more than whole is meaningless. If there were change in him, if he could be reduced to any form and limited to what is not in him, he would not be as God created him. What idol can he need to be himself? For can he give a part of him away? What is not whole cannot make whole. But what is really asked for cannot be denied. Your will isgranted. Not in any form that would content you not, but in the whole completely lovely Thought God holds of you.

Nothing that God knows not exists. And what He knows exists forever, changelessly. For thoughts endure as long as does the mind that thought of them. And in the Mind of God there is no ending, nor a time in which His Thoughts were absent or could suffer change. Thoughts are not born and cannot die. They share the attributes of their creator, nor have they a separate life apart from his. The thoughts you think are in your mind, as you are in the Mind Which thought of you. And so there are no separate parts in what exists within God’s Mind. It is forever One, eternally united and at peace.

Thoughts seem to come and go. Yet all this means is that you are sometimes aware of them, and sometimes not. An unremembered thought is born again to you when it returns to your awareness. Yet it did not die when you forgot it. It was always there, but you were unaware of it. The Thought God holds of you is perfectly unchanged by your forgetting. It will always be exactly as it was before the time when you forgot, and will be just the same when you remember. And it is the same within the interval when you forgot.

The Thoughts of God are far beyond all change, and shine forever. They await not birth. They wait for welcome and remembering. The Thought God holds of you is like a star, unchangeable in an eternal sky. So high in Heaven is it set that those outside of Heaven know not it is there. Yet still and white and lovely will it shine through all eternity. There was no time it was not there; no instant when its light grew dimmer or less perfect ever was.

Who knows the Father knows this light, for He is the eternal sky that holds it safe, forever lifted up and anchored sure. Its perfect purity does not depend on whether it is seen on earth or not. The sky embraces it and softly holds it in its perfect place, which is as far from earth as earth from Heaven. It is not the distance nor the time that keeps this star invisible to earth. But those who seek for idols cannot know the star is there.

Beyond all idols is the Thought God holds of you. Completely unaffected by the turmoil and the terror of the world, the dreams of birth and death that here are dreamed, the myriad of forms that fear can take; quite undisturbed, the Thought God holds of you remains exactly as it always was. Surrounded by a stillness so complete no sound of battle comes remotely near, it rests in certainty and perfect peace. Here is your one reality kept safe, completely unaware of all the world that worships idols, and that knows not God. In perfect sureness of its changelessness and of its rest in its eternal home, the Thought God holds of you has never left the Mind of its Creator Whom it knows, as its Creator knows that it is there.

Where could the Thought God holds of you exist but where you are? Is your reality a thing apart from you, and in a world which your reality knows nothing of? Outside you there is no eternal sky, no changeless star and no reality. The mind of Heaven’s Son in Heaven is, for there the Mind of Father and of Son joined in creation which can have no end. You have not two realities, but one. Nor can you be aware of more than one. An idol or the Thought God holds of you is your reality. Forget not, then, that idols must keep hidden what you are, not from the Mind of God, but from your own. The star shines still; the sky has never changed. But you, the holy Son of God Himself, are unaware of your reality.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 20

Lesson 263

My holy vision sees all things as pure.

Father, Your Mind created all that is, Your Spirit entered into it, Your Love gave life to it. And would I look upon what You created as if it could be made sinful? I would not perceive such dark and fearful images. A madman’s dream is hardly fit to be my choice, instead of all the loveliness with which You blessed creation; all its purity, its joy, and its eternal, quiet home in You.

And while we still remain outside the gate of Heaven, let us look on all we see through holy vision and the eyes of Christ. Let all appearances seem pure to us, that we may pass them by in innocence, and walk together to our Father’s house as brothers and the holy Sons of God.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #428: From the accounts of many people who have had near-death experiences, we can conclude that the material world and our planet are very important and designed for spiritual learning, training, and evolving. There are no futile things in them and everything has meaning. On the contrary, from view of A Course in Miracles, our world is meaningless and designed by the ego to keep the illusion of separation and to control the guilt over the separation. The contradiction is obvious. I perceive the accounts of people having had NDE as evidence from the spiritual world. How can you explain the contradiction?

A: If the separation from God never happened, then in reality there is no world. “This is the central thought the course attempts to teach” (W.pI.132.6:3). However, since we think the world is real, then A Course in Miracles teaches us how to use the world — “made as an attack on God” (W.pII.3.2:1) — to learn that ultimately it is illusory, and further, that the self that thinks it exists in the world is also illusory. In that sense, the world is our classroom, until with the Holy Spirit’s help we change all of the mistaken beliefs in our minds. Thus, on the level of absolute truth, the world is totally illusory; but on the level of our dream of separation, we can learn to use our interactions in the world to help us awaken from the dream, at which point the world would disappear back into the nothingness from which it came.

The world is meaningful or important, thus, only to the extent that our experiences in the world can tell us whether we have chosen to reinforce the ego’s purpose or Jesus’ purpose. Choosing the ego as our teacher would serve to keep us rooted in the world and forever apart from the peace of God. Choosing Jesus as our teacher would serve to remind us of the absurdity of wanting to exist apart from our true home in Heaven as aliens in a world of separate beings always involved in life-and-death struggles on some level.

A near-death experience can be extremely valuable in helping people realize there is something beyond bodily existence; but the same experience can occur — and has occurred many, many times — apart from a NDE. In a section in the text called “Beyond the Body” (T.18.VI), Jesus describes the body as a “limit imposed on the universal communication that is an eternal property of mind” (8:3), and then he discusses the experience of being liberated or transported beyond the body. In part Jesus explains, “What really happens is that you have given up the illusion of a limited awareness, and lost your fear of union” (11:7). Then at the end of the section, he invites us to “come to this place of refuge, where you can be yourself in peace. Not through destruction, not through a breaking out, but merely by a quiet melting in. For peace will join you there simply because you have been willing to let go the limits you have placed upon love, and joined it where it is and where it led you, in answer to its gentle call to be at peace” (14:5,6,7).

From the perspective of A Course in Miracles, thus, NDE’s can be helpful, not as evidence of a spiritual world beyond the physical world, but as evidence of another dimension in one’s own mind that can be chosen any time the value of a separate, individual existence is called into question. How that is experienced (the form) varies from individual to individual. But coming close to death is not a condition for having it.

teach not that i died in vain