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

ACIM Text Reading for September 9

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

X. The End of Injustice

What, then, remains to be undone for you to realise Their Presence? Only this; you have a differential view of when attack is justified, and when you think it is unfair and not to be allowed. When you perceive it as unfair, you think that a response of anger now is just. And thus you see what is the same as different. Confusion is not limited. If it occurs at all it will be total. And its presence, in whatever form, will hide Their Presence. They are known with clarity or not at all. Confused perception will block knowledge. It is not a question of the size of the confusion, or how much it interferes. Its simple presence shuts the door to Theirs, and keeps Them there unknown.

What does it mean if you perceive attack in certain forms to be unfair to you? It means that there must be some forms in which you think it fair. For otherwise, how could some be evaluated as unfair? Some, then, are given meaning and perceived as sensible. And only some are seen as meaningless. And this denies the fact that all are senseless, equally without a cause or consequence, and cannot have effects of any kind. Their Presence is obscured by any veil that stands between Their shining innocence, and your awareness that it is your own and equally belongs to every living thing along with you. God limits not. And what is limited cannot be Heaven. So it must be hell.

Unfairness and attack are one mistake, so firmly joined that where one is perceived the other must be seen. You cannot be unfairly treated. The belief you are is but another form of the idea you are deprived by someone not yourself. Projection of the cause of sacrifice is at the root of everything perceived to be unfair and not your just desserts. Yet it is you who ask this of yourself, in deep injustice to the Son of God. You have no enemy except yourself, and you are enemy indeed to him because you do not know him as yourself. What could be more unjust than that he be deprived of what he is, denied the right to be himself, and asked to sacrifice his Father’s Love and yours as not his due?

Beware of the temptation to perceive yourself unfairly treated. In this view, you seek to find an innocence that is not Theirs but yours alone, and at the cost of someone else’s guilt. Can innocence be purchased by the giving of your guilt to someone else? And is it innocence that your attack on him attempts to get? Is it not retribution for your own at tack upon the Son of God you seek? Is it not safer to believe that you are innocent of this, and victimised despite your innocence? Whatever way the game of guilt is played, there must be loss. Someone must lose his innocence that someone else can take it from him, making it his own.

You think your brother is unfair to you because you think that one must be unfair to make the other innocent. And in this game do you perceive one purpose for your whole relationship. And this you seek to add unto the purpose given it. The Holy Spirit’s purpose is to let the Presence of your holy Guests be known to you. And to this purpose nothing can be added, for the world is purposeless except for this. To add or take away from this one goal is but to take away all purpose from the world and from yourself. And each unfairness that the world appears to lay upon you, you have laid on it by rendering it purposeless, without the function that the Holy Spirit sees. And simple justice has been thus denied to every living thing upon the earth.

What this injustice does to you who judge unfairly, and who see as you have judged, you cannot calculate. The world grows dim and threatening, not a trace of all the happy sparkle that salvation brings can you perceive to lighten up your way. And so you see yourself deprived of light, abandoned to the dark, unfairly left without a purpose in a futile world. The world is fair because the Holy Spirit has brought injustice to the light within, and there has all unfairness been resolved and been replaced with justice and with love. If you perceive injustice anywhere, you need but say:

By this do I deny the Presence of the Father and the Son. And I would rather know of Them than see injustice, which Their Presence shines away.


***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 9

Lesson 236

I rule my mind, which I alone must rule.

I have a kingdom I must rule. At times, it does not seem I am its king at all. It seems to triumph over me, and tell me what to think, and what to do and feel. And yet it has been given me to serve whatever purpose I perceive in it. My mind can only serve. Today I give its service to the Holy Spirit to employ as He sees fit. I thus direct my mind, which I alone can rule. And thus I set it free to do the Will of God.

Father, my mind is open to Your Thoughts, and closed today to every thought but Yours. I rule my mind, and offer it to You. Accept my gift, for it is Yours to me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is it a bad sign if I do not “hear” an inner Voice? Does that mean that I am not being a good student of A Course in Miracles?

A) In actuality, within the dream there are literally two “inner voices,”– one of the wrong mind (the ego) and that of the right mind (the Holy Spirit), and the differences between them, as we have already seen, cannot be as easily discerned as students might hope and believe. In order to maintain its individuality and uniqueness, each member of the Sonship has listened to the ego’s voice and followed its plan. A cursory view of the history of this planet, along with its current affairs, will testify and witness heavily to such a fact.

Indeed, it is not the easiest thing in the world to be able to “hear” the Voice for God, the Course’s term for the Holy Spirit. In fact, A Course in Miracles itself says that “very few can hear God’s Voice at all, and even they cannot communicate His messages directly through the Spirit which gave them” (M-12.3:3).  Our investments in specialness and the need to maintain our individuality, almost always unconscious,  make it very difficult to hear the Voice that speaks for the undoing of specialness.  In the previous question, we quoted a passage that explicitly addresses this problem. All too often, sincere students of A Course in Miracles are convinced that they are hearing the Voice of the Holy Spirit, when all they are really listening to is their own egos extolling their specialness and uniqueness, within the framework of what they want to believe is a special mission.

Another source of misunderstanding for many students of A Course in Miracles is the specific Identity of the Holy Spirit’s Voice. One does not fail the Course if a “Voice” is not heard internally as Helen heard. Furthermore, we should not try to limit how and in which way the Holy Spirit can reach us. For example, a dream at night, a conversation with a friend, an intuitive thought, a book we read, a class we take — can all be used by the Holy Spirit to present us with a correction for our wrong-minded thinking.

In conclusion, to restate this important point, we can say that the only criterion for being a “good” Course student is having the little willingness to learn the Holy Spirit’s lessons of undoing our egos through forgiveness. Specifically hearing an inner voice –again, as did Helen — can therefore be understood as irrelevant in this context.

not his will you be crucified

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 8

ACIM Text Reading for September 8

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

IX. For They Have Come

Think but how holy you must be from whom the Voice for God calls lovingly unto your brother, that you may awake in him the Voice that answers to your call! And think how holy he must be when in him sleeps your own salvation, with his freedom joined! However much you wish he be condemned, God is in him. And never will you know He is in you as well while you attack His chosen home, and battle with His host. Regard him gently. Look with loving eyes on him who carries Christ within him, that you may behold his glory and rejoice that Heaven is not separate from you.

Is it too much to ask a little trust for him who carries Christ to you, that you may be forgiven all your sins, and left without a single one you cherish still? Forget not that a shadow held between your brother and yourself obscures the face of Christ and memory of God. And would you trade Them for an ancient hate? The ground whereon you stand is holy ground because of Them Who, standing there with you, have blessed it with Their innocence and peace.

The blood of hatred fades to let the grass grow green again, and let the flowers be all white and sparkling in the summer sun. What was a place of death has now become a living temple in a world of light. Because of Them. It is Their Presence which has lifted holiness again to take its ancient place upon an ancient throne. Because of Them have miracles sprung up as grass and flowers on the barren ground that hate had scorched and rendered desolate. What hate has wrought have They undone. And now you stand on ground so holy Heaven leans to join with it, and make it like itself. The shadow of an ancient hate has gone, and all the blight and withering have passed forever from the land where They have come.

What is a hundred or a thousand years to Them, or tens of thousands? When They come, time’s purpose is fulfilled. What never was passes to nothingness when They have come. What hatred claimed is given up to love, and freedom lights up every living thing and lifts it into Heaven, where the lights grow ever brighter as each one comes home. The incomplete is made complete again; and Heaven’s joy has been increased because what is its own has been restored to it. The bloodied earth is cleansed, and the insane have shed their garments of insanity to join Them on the ground whereon you stand.

Heaven is grateful for this gift of what has been withheld so long. For They have come to gather in Their Own. What has been locked is opened; what was held apart from light is given up, that light may shine on it and leave no space nor distance lingering between the light of Heaven and the world.

The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love. And They come quickly to the living temple, where a home for Them has been set up. There is no place in Heaven holier. And They have come to dwell within the temple offered Them, to be Their resting place as well as yours. What hatred has released to love becomes the brightest light in Heaven’s radiance. And all the lights in Heaven brighter grow, in gratitude for what has been restored.

Around you angels hover lovingly, to keep away all darkened thoughts of sin, and keep the light where it has entered in. Your footprints lighten up the world, for where you walk forgiveness gladly goes with you. No one on earth but offers thanks to one who has restored his home, and sheltered him from bitter winter and the freezing cold. And shall the Lord of Heaven and His Son give less in gratitude for so much more?

Now is the temple of the living God rebuilt as host again to Him by Whom it was created. Where He dwells, His Son dwells with Him, never separate. And They give thanks that They are welcome made at last. Where stood a cross stands now the risen Christ, and ancient scars are healed within His sight. An ancient miracle has come to bless and to replace an ancient enmity that came to kill. In gentle gratitude do God the Father and the Son return to what is Theirs, and will forever be. Now is the Holy Spirit’s purpose done. For They have come! For They have come at last!

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 8

Lesson 235

God in His mercy wills that I be saved.

I need but look upon all things that seem to hurt me, and with perfect certainty assure myself, “God wills that I be saved from this,” and merely watch them disappear. I need but keep in mind my Father’s Will for me is only happiness, to find that only happiness has come to me. And I need but remember that God’s Love surrounds His Son and keeps his sinlessness forever perfect, to be sure that I am saved and safe forever in His Arms. I am the Son He loves. And I am saved because God in His mercy wills it so.

Father, Your Holiness is mine. Your Love created me, and made my sinlessness forever part of You. I have no guilt nor sin in me, for there is none in You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) How does one tell the difference between the Holy Spirit and the ego?

A) We begin with a statement from the Course. It comes in “The Test of Truth” in Chapter 14 of the text, and is the answer to this question, given in the context of discerning between the “dark lessons” of the ego and the “bright lessons” of the Holy Spirit:

You have one test, as sure as God, by which to recognize if what you learned is true.  [1 ] If you are wholly free of fear of any kind, and [2] if all those who meet or even think of you share in your perfect peace, then you can be sure that you have learned God’s lesson, and not your own (T-14.XI.5:1-2).

In other words, Jesus is providing his students with two criteria with which to evaluate whether they have chosen the ego or himself as their teacher. The first deals only with individual students, whether or not they are at peace. The second involves other people, those who live and work with us, not to mention everyone else.  We all would have to admit that it is relatively simple to delude ourselves into thinking we have chosen the Holy Spirit, when in truth we have chosen our own specialness. But it is more difficult to fool other people, especially those who know us well and who see us regularly over periods of time. Incidentally, students of A Course in Miracles sometimes wonder if that second criterion would have to exclude Jesus, since obviously the biblical figure (who, by the way, should never be taken for the historical Jesus — see question 52 ) was crucified by angry people who quite clearly did not “share in [his] perfect peace.” However, one should understand this situation to mean that people may experience your perfect peace, but may be so threatened by it that they try to attack it and you. But they could not be doing so had they not first experienced this peace as authentic, and thenbecome threatened by it.

This test of truth is applicable to students over the long run because, again, it is difficult to fool others and even oneself over a period of time. However, in any given instant when one wishes to know which teacher has been consulted, it is almost impossible to know for certain. As all students of A Course in Miracles already know, and as we have already commented, the ego can quite deceptively pose like the Holy Spirit. Given the tremendous investment all people in this world have in maintaining their specialness, it should come as no surprise that this would be so. In this very important passage, Jesus cautions his students about underestimating the power their specialness has to mask the Holy Spirit’s Voice. It is from one of the major sections in the text that deals specifically with the treacherous nature of specialness:

You are not special. If you think you are, and would defend your specialness against the truth of what you really are, how can you know the truth? What answer that the Holy Spirit gives can reach you, when it is your specialness to which you listen, and which asks and answers. Its tiny answer, soundless in the melody that pours from God to you eternally in loving praise of what you are, is all you listen to. And that vast song of honor and of love for what you are seems silent and unheard before its “mightiness.  ” You strain your ears to hear its soundless voice, and yet the Call of God Himself is soundless to you.You can defend your specialness, but never will you hear the Voice for God beside it (T-24.II.4:1-5:1, italics ours).

Therefore, our response to this question is to state, that because of students’ over-identification with their egos, it is really the wrong question to ask. Rather, the focus should be on eliminating the interference to hearing the Holy Spirit’s Voice, which would then simply allow the Voice for God to be Itself. Thus, the question should be: “Why don’t I practice the forgiveness lessons the Holy Spirit asks me to do so that I can better hear His Voice?”  With this new question, the focus is now shifted to eliminating the problem so that the Answer can be given us.  As Jesus exhorts his students:

Your task is not to seek for love [or hear the Holy Spirit’s Voice], but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false (T-I6.IV.6:1-2).

And returning to “The Test of Truth,” we find Jesus making the same point to his students who despair over being able to actually hear the Holy Spirit, given the strength of their investment in their ego’s “dark lessons”:

Do not be concerned about how you can learn a lesson so completely different from everything that you have taught yourself. How would you know? Your part is very simple.  You need only recognize that everything you learned you do not want. Ask to be taught, and do not use your experiences to confirm what you have learned. When your peace is threatened or disturbed in any way, say to yourself:

I do not know what anything, including this, means. 
And so I do not know how to respond to it. And I will 
not use my own past learning as the light to guide me
now.

By this refusal to attempt to teach yourself what you do not know, the Guide Whom God has given you will speak to you. He will take His rightful place in your awareness the instant you abandon it, and offer it to Him (T-14.XI.6).

The primary focus of Jesus’ Course is always on removing the interferences to the awareness of love’s presence (T-in.1:7), and not on the love itself. And so, once again, the students’ focus will remain on asking Jesus’ help to set aside their ego thought system, rather than on asking him directly for help or guidance with things in the world. Finally, we cite one important passage in the text that underscores this major emphasis:

The task of the miracle worker … becomes to deny the denial of truth (T-12.II.1:5).

The “denial of truth” is of course the ego thought system, which denies the truth of God. Our responsibility is to ask the Holy Spirit’s help to “deny” the validity of what the ego teaches, hereby affirming His truth of the Atonement.

teach not that i died in vain

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

ACIM Text Reading for September 7

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

VIII. The Immediacy of Salvation

The one remaining problem that you have is that you see an interval between the time when you forgive, and will receive the benefits of trusting in your brother. This but reflects the little you would keep between you and your brother, that you and he might be a little separate. For time and space are one illusion, which takes different forms. If it has been projected beyond your mind you think of it as time. The nearer it is brought to where it is, the more you think of it in terms of space.

‘There is a distance you would keep apart from your brother, and this space you perceive as time because you still believe you are external to him. This makes trust impossible. And you cannot believe that trust would settle every problem now. Thus do you think it safer to remain a little careful and a little watchful of interests perceived as separate. From this perception you cannot conceive of gaining what forgiveness offers now. The interval you think lies in between the giving and receiving of the gift seems to be one in which you sacrifice and suffer loss. You see eventual salvation, not immediate results.

Salvation is immediate. Unless you so perceive it, you will be afraid of it, believing that the risk of loss is great between the time its purpose is made yours and its effects will come to you. In this form is the error still obscured that is the source of fear. Salvation would wipe out the space you see between you still, and let you instantly become as one. And it is here you fear the loss would lie. Do not project this fear to time, for time is not the enemy that you perceive. Time is as neutral as the body is, except in terms of what you see it for. If you would keep a little space between you and your brother still, you then would want a little time in which forgiveness is withheld a little while. And this makes the interval between the time in which forgiveness is withheld from you and given seem dangerous, with terror justified.

Yet space between you and your brother is apparent only in the present, now, and cannot be perceived in future time. No more can it be overlooked except within the present. Future loss is not your fear. But present joining is your dread. Who can feel desolation except now. A future cause as yet has no effects. And therefore must it be that if you fear, there is a present cause. And it is this that needs correction, not a future state.

The plans you make for safety all are laid within the future, where you cannot plan. No purpose has been given it as yet, and what will happen has as yet no cause. Who can predict effects without a cause? And who could fear effects unless he thought they had been caused, and judged disastrous now? Belief in sin arouses fear, and like its cause, is looking forward, looking back, but overlooking what is here and now. Yet only here and now its cause must be, if its effects already have been judged as fearful. And in overlooking this, is it protected and kept separate from healing. For a miracle is now. It stands already here, in present grace, within the only interval of time that sin and fear have overlooked, but which is all there is to time.

The working out of all correction takes no time at all. Yet the acceptance of the working out can seem to take forever. The change of purpose the Holy Spirit brought to your relationship has in it all effects that you will see. They can be looked at now. Why wait till they unfold in time and fear they may not come, although already there? You have been told that everything brings good that comes from God. And yet it seems as if this is not so. Good in disaster’s form is difficult to credit in advance. Nor is there really sense in this idea.

Why should the good appear in evil’s form? And is it not deception if it does? Its cause is here, if it appears at all. Why are not its effects apparent, then? Why in the future? And you seek to be content with sighing, and with ‘reasoning’ you do not understand it now, but will some day. And then its meaning will be clear. This is not reason, for it is unjust, and clearly hints at punishment until the time of liberation is at hand. Given a change of purpose for the good, there is no reason for an interval in which disaster strikes, to be perceived as ‘good’ some day but now in form of pain. This is a sacrifice of now, which could not be the cost the Holy Spirit asks for what He gave without a cost at all.

Yet this illusion has a cause which, though untrue, must be already in your mind. And this illusion is but one effect that it engenders, and one form in which its outcome is perceived. This interval in time, when retribution is perceived to be the form in which the ‘good’ appears, is but one aspect of the little space that lies between you, unforgiven still.

Be not content with future happiness. It has no meaning, and is not your just reward. For you have cause for freedom now. What profits freedom in a prisoner’s form? Why should deliverance be disguised as death? Delay is senseless, and the ‘reasoning’ that would maintain effects of present cause must be delayed until a future time, is merely a denial of the fact that consequence and cause must come as one. Look not to time, but to the little space between you still, to be delivered from. And do not let it be disguised as time, and so preserved because its form is changed and what it is cannot be recognised. The Holy Spirit’s purpose now is yours. Should not His happiness be yours as well?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 7

Lesson 234

Father, today I am Your Son again.

Today we will anticipate the time when dreams of sin and guilt are gone, and we have reached the holy peace we never left. Merely a tiny instant has elapsed between eternity and timelessness. So brief the interval there was no lapse in continuity, nor break in thoughts which are forever unified as one. Nothing has ever happened to disturb the peace of God the Father and the Son. This we accept as wholly true today.

We thank You, Father, that we cannot lose the memory of You and of Your Love. We recognize our safety, and give thanks for all the gifts You have bestowed on us, for all the loving help we have received, for Your eternal patience, and the Word which You have given us that we are saved.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What does A Course in Miracles mean by forgiving your brother? What if he does not accept the forgiveness, or is no longer physically present? Does this mean I can no longer forgive him? 

A) Our answer is a continuation of the answer to the previous question. We are asked in the Course to forgive others for what they have not done to us. This is understood only by remembering that there is in truth no one out there to forgive. What we really forgive (or release) are the projections of guilt we have placed upon figures in our dreams that we scripted to be our special love or special hate partners.  Therefore, it does not matter if these persons are physically present, know us personally, or even if they have already died. They continue to be present in our minds through our unforgiving thoughts, and the opportunity to ask for help to forgive these thoughts and projected images always remains. 

The effects of our forgiveness are also fully present in our minds, joined with the minds of others. If other people choose not to accept our forgiveness in their dreams, the healed thought in our minds is no less efficacious. As the Course teaches, the Holy Spirit holds this forgiveness in the minds of the others until they are ready to accept it. That is the process Jesus is referring to as well when he says to us in the Course: 

I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance.  They are beyond destruction and beyond guilt (T-5.IV.8:3-5).

Likewise, he saves our loving thoughts towards others, and holds them until they are ready to accept them for themselves. 

present love

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 6

ACIM Text Reading for September 6

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

VII. The Laws of Healing

This is a course in miracles. As such, the laws of healing must be understood before the purpose of the course can be accomplished. Let us review the principles that we have covered, and arrange them in a way that summarises all that must occur for healing to be possible. For when it once is possible it must occur.

All sickness comes from separation. When the separation is denied, it goes. For it is gone as soon as the idea that brought it has been healed, and been replaced by sanity. Sickness and sin are seen as consequence and cause, in a relationship kept hidden from awareness that it may be carefully preserved from reason’s light.

Guilt asks for punishment, and its request is granted. Not in truth, but in the world of shadows and illusions built on sin. The Son of God perceived what he would see because perception is a wish fulfilled. Perception changes, made to take the place of changeless knowledge. Yet is truth unchanged. It cannot be perceived, but only known. What is perceived takes many forms, but none has meaning. Brought to truth, its senselessness is quite apparent. Kept apart from truth, it seems to have a meaning and be real.

Perception’s laws are opposite to truth, and what is true of knowledge is not true of anything that is apart from it. Yet has God given answer to the world of sickness, which applies to all its forms. God’s answer is eternal, though it works in time, where it is needed. Yet because it is of God, the laws of time do not affect its workings. It is in this world, but not a part of it. For it is real, and dwells where all reality must be. Ideas leave not their source, and their effects but seem to be apart from them. Ideas are of the mind. What is projected out, and seems to be external to the mind, is not outside at all, but an effect of what is in, and has not left its source.

God’s answer lies where the belief in sin must be, for only there can its effects be utterly undone and without cause. Perception’s laws must be reversed, because they are reversals of the laws of truth. The laws of truth forever will be true, and cannot be reversed; yet can be seen as upside down. And this must be corrected where the illusion of reversal lies.

It is impossible that one illusion be less amenable to truth than are the rest. But it is possible that some are given greater value, and less willingly offered to truth for healing and for help. No illusion has any truth in it. Yet it appears some are more true than others, although this clearly makes no sense at all. All that a hierarchy of illusions can show is preference, not reality. What relevance has preference to the truth? Illusions are illusions and are false. Your preference gives them no reality. Not one is true in any way, and all must yield with equal ease to what God gave as answer to them all. God’s Will is one. And any wish that seems to go against His Will has no foundation in the truth.

Sin is not error, for it goes beyond correction to impossibility. Yet the belief that it is real has made some errors seem forever past the hope of healing, and the lasting grounds for hell. If this were so, would Heaven be opposed by its own opposite, as real as it. Then would God’s Will be split in two, and all creation be subjected to the laws of two opposing powers, until God becomes impatient, splits the world apart, and relegates attack unto Himself. Thus has He lost His Mind, proclaiming sin has taken His reality from Him and brought His Love at last to vengeance’s heels. For such an insane picture an insane defence can be expected, but can not establish that the picture must be true.

Nothing gives meaning where no meaning is. And truth needs no defence to make it true. Illusions have no witnesses and no effects. Who looks on them is but deceived. Forgiveness is the only function here, and serves to bring the joy this world denies to every aspect of God’s Son where sin was thought to rule. Perhaps you do not see the role forgiveness plays in ending death and all beliefs that rise from mists of guilt. Sins are beliefs that you impose between your brother and yourself. They limit you to time and place, and give a little space to you, another little space to him. This separating off is symbolised, in your perception, by a body which is clearly separate and a thing apart. Yet what this symbol represents is but your wish to be apart and separate.

Forgiveness takes away what stands between your brother and yourself. It is the wish that you be joined with him, and not apart. We call it ‘wish’ because it still conceives of other choices, and has not yet reached beyond the world of choice entirely. Yet is this wish in line with Heaven’s state, and not in opposition to God’s Will. Although it falls far short of giving you your full inheritance, it does remove the obstacles that you have placed between the Heaven where you are, and recognition of where and what you are. Facts are unchanged. Yet facts can be denied and thus unknown, though they were known before they were denied.

Salvation, perfect and complete, asks but a little wish that what is true be true; a little willingness to overlook what is not there; a little sigh that speaks for Heaven as a preference to this world that death and desolation seem to rule. In joyous answer will creation rise within you, to replace the world you see with Heaven, wholly perfect and complete. What is forgiveness but a willingness that truth be true? What can remain unhealed and broken from a Unity Which holds all things within Itself? There is no sin. And every miracle is possible the instant that the Son of God perceives his wishes and the Will of God are one.

What is the Will of God? He wills His Son have everything. And this He guaranteed when He created him as everything. It is impossible that anything be lost, if what you have is what you are. This is the miracle by which creation became your function, sharing it with God. It is not understood apart from Him, and therefore has no meaning in this world. Here does the Son of God ask not too much, but far too little. He would sacrifice his own identity with everything, to find a little treasure of his own. And this he cannot do without a sense of isolation, loss and loneliness. This is the treasure he has sought to find. And he could only be afraid of it. Is fear a treasure? Can uncertainty be what you want? Or is it a mistake about your will, and what you really are?

Let us consider what the error is, so it can be corrected, not protected. Sin is belief attack can be projected outside the mind where the belief arose. Here is the firm conviction that ideas can leave their source made real and meaningful. And from this error does the world of sin and sacrifice arise. This world is an attempt to prove your innocence, while cherishing attack. Its failure lies in that you still feel guilty, though without understanding why. Effects are seen as separate from their source, and seem to be beyond you to control or to prevent. What is thus kept apart can never join.

Cause and effect are one, not separate. God wills you learn what always has been true: That He created you as part of Him, and this must still be true because ideas leave not their source. Such is creation’s law; that each idea the mind conceives but adds to its abundance, never takes away. This is as true of what is idly wished as what is truly willed, because the mind can wish to be deceived, but cannot make it be what it is not. And to believe ideas can leave their source is to invite illusions to be true, without success. For never will success be possible in trying to deceive the Son of God.

The miracle is possible when cause and consequence are brought together, not kept separate. The healing of effect without the cause can merely shift effects to other forms. And this is not release. God’s Son could never be content with less than full salvation and escape from guilt. For otherwise he still demands that he must make some sacrifice, and thus denies that everything is his, unlimited by loss of any kind. A tiny sacrifice is just the same in its effects as is the whole idea of sacrifice. If loss in any form is possible, then is God’s Son made incomplete and not himself. Nor will he know himself, nor recognise his will. He has forsworn his Father and himself, and made Them both his enemies in hate.

Illusions serve the purpose they were made to serve. And from their purpose they derive whatever meaning that they seem to have. God gave to all illusions that were made another purpose that would justify a miracle whatever form they took. In every miracle all healing lies, for God gave answer to them all as one. And what is one to Him must be the same. If you believe what is the same is different you but deceive yourself. What God calls one will be forever one, not separate. His Kingdom is united; thus it was created, and thus will it ever be.

The miracle but calls your ancient name, which you will recognise because the truth is in your memory. And to this name your brother calls for his release and yours. Heaven is shining on the Son of God. Deny him not, that you may be released. Each instant is the Son of God reborn until he chooses not to die again. In every wish to hurt he chooses death instead of what his Father wills for him. Yet every instant offers life to him because his Father wills that he should live.

In crucifixion is redemption laid, for healing is not needed where there is no pain or suffering. Forgiveness is the answer to attack of any kind. So is attack deprived of its effects, and hate is answered in the name of love. To you to whom it has been given to save the Son of God from crucifixion and from hell and death, all glory be forever. For you have power to save the Son of God because his Father willed that it be so. And in your hands does all salvation lie, to be both offered and received as one.

To use the power God has given you as He would have it used is natural. It is not arrogant to be as He created you, nor to make use of what He gave to answer all His Son’s mistakes and set him free. But it is arrogant to lay aside the power that He gave, and choose a little senseless wish instead of what He wills. The gift of God to you is limitless. There is no circumstance it cannot answer, and no problem which is not resolved within its gracious light.

Abide in peace, where God would have you be. And be the means whereby your brother finds the peace in which your wishes are fulfilled. Let us unite in bringing blessing to the world of sin and death. For what can save each one of us can save us all. There is no difference among the Sons of God. The unity that specialness denies will save them all, for what is one can have no specialness. And everything belongs to each of them. No wishes lie between a brother and his own. To get from one is to deprive them all. And yet to bless but one gives blessing to them all as one.

Your ancient name belongs to everyone, as theirs to you. Call on your brother’s name and God will answer, for on Him you call. Could He refuse to answer when He has already answered all who call on Him? A miracle can make no change at all. But it can make what always has been true be recognised by those who know it not; and by this little gift of truth but let to be itself, the Son of God allowed to be himself, and all creation freed to call upon the Name of God as one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 6

Lesson 233

I give my life to God to guide today.

Father, I give You all my thoughts today. I would have none of mine. In place of them, give me Your Own. I give You all my acts as well, that I may do Your Will instead of seeking goals which cannot be obtained, and wasting time in vain imaginings. Today I come to You. I will step back and merely follow You. Be You the Guide, and I the follower who questions not the wisdom of the Infinite, nor Love whose tenderness I cannot comprehend, but which is yet Your perfect gift to me.

Today we have one Guide to lead us on. And as we walk together, we will give this day to Him with no reserve at all. This is His day. And so it is a day of countless gifts and mercies unto us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What does A Course in Miracles mean by “releasing your brother”? How can I save him if the world is an hallucination in my mind?

A) The reader should recall our earlier discussion in question 5 of Jesus’ use of metaphor in the Course.  In other words, students of A Course in Miracles need to allow themselves to be led beyond the form of its words to their underlying content. This is a process that occurs slowly over time, beginning with a more literal understanding of the Course’s teachings. At first, therefore, phrases like “releasing your brother,” or parallel ones about being your brother’s savior, or the workbook emphasis on being the light of the world, help students undo their negative self-image such as is summarized in workbook
Lesson 93:

You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. You think if what is true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible (W-pl.93.1).

It is a healing correction to be told that our thoughts about ourselves are not true, and that not only are we loved by God as an extension of His Will (as the rest of the lesson makes clear) but that we have the power to heal and bless others as well. It is only as we progress in our work with A Course in Miracles that it becomes clear that the process of “releasing” one’s brother has nothing to do with our brother, but everything to do with ourselves. Indeed, this process of forgiveness can have nothing to do with our brother because in truth it is our dream, and he is but a figure in this dream. In one rather strong passage, Jesus asks his students:

What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? (T-20.VIII.7:3-5)

In other words, our world and lives are our dreams, just as our sleeping dreams — with all their figures and events — are present only in our dreaming minds that in a sense are but hallucinations, too. Moreover, since the content of the ego’s dream is fear, hate, victimization, and unforgiveness, all dream figures will have the above themes scripted throughout the dreaming we call “life.” Therefore, there is no one to forgive because, again, all the people in our lives are simply made-up figures in our dreams. Who needs to be forgiven is ourselves — for dreaming in the first place instead of remembering our Identity as Christ, awake in God.

Our function of “releasing our brothers” through forgiveness relates to a function and process that truly occurs only within our minds — the home of dreams — although it is experienced by us as occurring between two separated individuals. By choosing Jesus as our teacher instead of the ego, by listening to his voice of forgiveness instead of the ego’s voice of attack, we join with him as expressions of the Alternative that is in everyone’s mind. And thus we become the reminders to our brothers that they can make the same choice we did, and thus be released from their guilt since we both scripted each other into our respective dreams. Therefore, we can choose either to be symbols of guilt or forgiveness for one another. This process of healing through forgiveness is summarized in this wonderfully clear passage from the manual for teachers, which discusses the role of the teacher of God when confronted by sickness:

To them [the sick] God’s teachers come, to represent another choice which they had forgotten. The simple presence of a teacher of God is a reminder … They stand for the Alternative. With God’s Word in their minds they come in benediction, not to heal the sick but to remind them of the remedy God has already given them…. Very gently they call to their brothers to turn away from death: “Behold, you Son of God, what Life can offer you. Would you choose sickness in place of this?” (M-5.III.2:1-2,6-7,11-12)

Therefore, we save the world and everyone in it by saving or changing our thoughts about the world. By releasing ourselves from our own guilt, we release the world because we are one with it, since it is our projection. That is what the Course means by saying that we “arose with him [Jesus] when he began to save the world” (C-6.5:5). Our minds are one, and Jesus’ remaining one with the Holy Spirit becomes the shining reminder in the Sonship’s mind to do the same. Our making that choice allows us to be Jesus’ manifestation to our brothers, just as he is the Holy Spirit’s manifestation for us all (C-6.5:1-2). It is this call to remember and to choose that is the true release that heals.

kingdom of god

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

ACIM Text Reading for September 

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

VI. The Appointed Friend

Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so. Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing. And through its perceived reality has entered all the world of sick illusions. All belief in sin, in power of attack, in hurt and harm, in sacrifice and death, has come to you. For no one can make one illusion real, and still escape the rest. For who can choose to keep the ones that he prefers, and find the safety that the truth alone can give? Who can believe illusions are the same, and still maintain that even one is best?

Lead not your little life in solitude, with one illusion as your only friend. This is no friendship worthy of God’s Son, nor one with which he could remain content. Yet God has given him a better Friend, in Whom all power in earth and Heaven rests. The one illusion that you think is friend obscures His grace and majesty from you, and keeps His friendship and forgiveness from your welcoming embrace. Without Him you are friendless. Seek not another friend to take His place. There is no other friend. What God appointed has no substitute, for what illusion can replace the truth?

Who dwells with shadows is alone indeed, and loneliness is not the Will of God. Would you allow one shadow to usurp the throne that God appointed for your Friend, if you but realised its emptiness has left yours empty and unoccupied? Make no illusion friend, for if you do, it can but take the place of Him Whom God has called your Friend. And it is He Who is your only Friend in truth. He brings you gifts that are not of this world, and only He to Whom they have been given can make sure that you receive them. He will place them on your throne, when you make room for Him on His.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 5

Lesson 232

Be in my mind, my Father, through the day.

Be in my mind, my Father, when I wake, and shine on me throughout the day today. Let every minute be a time in which I dwell with You. And let me not forget my hourly thanksgiving that You have remained with me, and always will be there to hear my call to You and answer me. As evening comes, let all my thoughts be still of You and of Your Love. And let me sleep sure of my safety, certain of Your care, and happily aware I am Your Son.

This is as every day should be. Today, practice the end of fear. Have faith in Him Who is your Father. Trust all things to Him. Let Him reveal all things to you, and be you undismayed because you are His Son.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the “holy instant,” and what is its role in the Atonement?

A) In a sense, understanding the holy instant parallels understanding the question of meditation we discussed above. The holy instant is not a period of meditation wherein the student has a “good experience,” and feels the presence of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the holy instant is the Course’s term for the instant — outside time and space — when we choose the Holy Spirit as our teacher instead of the ego. It is the correction of forgiveness for the ego’s “unholy instant” of judgment and attack, the experience of undoing our guilt through Jesus’ help. It is this purpose which makes the instant holy, and establishes it as an integral part of the overall Atonement plan for correcting our misperceptions and misthoughts.

Moreover, the holy instant can be understood as the steps we take throughout our lives that gradually lead us closer and closer to the real world, in a sense the ultimate holy instant. Each time we are tempted to listen to the ego’s tale of specialness and the need for attack, we are reminded by Jesus that we can choose a miracle instead — “Let miracles replace all grievances” (workbook, pp.137-38; W-pI.78) — and have him help us make the shift in perception that constitutes the essence of forgiveness, the heart of the holy instant. In other words, the holy instants are the “little steps” of forgiveness the Course refers to that are the means for helping us undo our illusions so that we may reach our goal of truth. As we read in the Course:

Against the ego’s insane notion of salvation the Holy Spirit gently lays the holy instant …. The holy instant is the opposite of the ego’s fixed belief in salvation through vengeance for the past…. In the holy instant the power of the Holy Spirit will prevail, because you joined Him …. Release your brothers from the slavery of their illusions by forgiving them for the illusions you perceive in them. Thus will you learn that you have been forgiven, for it is you who offered them illusions. In the holy instant this is done for you in time, to bring you the true condition of Heaven (T-16.VII.6:1,3; 7:3; 9:5-7).

hostage or host

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 4

ACIM Text Reading for September 4

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

V. The Little Hindrance

A little hindrance can seem large indeed to those who do not understand that miracles are all the same. Yet teaching that is what this course is for. This is its only purpose, for only that is all there is to learn. And you can learn it in many different ways. All learning is a help or hindrance to the gate of Heaven. Nothing in between is possible. There are two teachers only, who point in different ways. And you will go along the way your chosen teacher leads. There are but two directions you can take, while time remains and choice is meaningful. For never will another road be made except the way to Heaven. You but choose whether to go toward Heaven, or away to nowhere. There is nothing else to choose.

Nothing is ever lost but time, which in the end is meaningless. For it is but a little hindrance to eternity, quite meaningless to the real Teacher of the world. Yet since you do believe in it, why should you waste it going nowhere, when it can be used to reach a goal as high as learning can achieve? Think not the way to Heaven’s gate is difficult at all. Nothing you undertake with certain purpose and high resolve and happy confidence, holding your brother’s hand and keeping step to Heaven’s song, is difficult to do. But it is hard indeed to wander off, alone and miserable, down a road that leads to nothing and that has no purpose.

God gave His Teacher to replace the one you made, not to conflict with it. And what He would replace has been replaced. Time lasted but an instant in your mind, with no effect upon eternity. And so is all time passed, and everything exactly as it was before the way to nothingness was made. The tiny tick of time in which the first mistake was made, and all of them within that one mistake, held also the Correction for that one, and all of them that came within the first. And in that tiny instant time was gone, for that was all it ever was. What God gave answer to is answered and is gone.

To you who still believe you live in time and know not it is gone, the Holy Spirit still guides you through the infinitely small and senseless maze you still perceive in time, though it has long since gone. You think you live in what is past. Each thing you look upon you saw but for an instant, long ago, before its unreality gave way to truth. Not one illusion still remains unanswered in your mind. Uncertainty was brought to certainty so long ago that it is hard indeed to hold it to your heart, as if it were before you still.

The tiny instant you would keep and make eternal, passed away in Heaven too soon for anything to notice it had come. What disappeared too quickly to affect the simple knowledge of the Son of God can hardly still be there, for you to choose to be your teacher. Only in the past—an ancient past, too short to make a world in answer to creation—did this world appear to rise. So very long ago, for such a tiny interval of time, that not one note in Heaven’s song was missed. Yet in each unforgiving act or thought, in every judgement and in all belief in sin, is that one instant still called back, as if it could be made again in time. You keep an ancient memory before your eyes. And he who lives in memories alone is unaware of where he is.

Forgiveness is the great release from time. It is the key to learning that the past is over. Madness speaks no more. There is no other teacher and no other way. For what has been undone no longer is. And who can stand upon a distant shore and dream himself across an ocean, to a place and time that have long since gone by? How real a hindrance can this dream be to where he really is? For this is fact, and does not change whatever dreams he has. Yet can he still imagine he is elsewhere, and in another time. In the extreme, he can delude himself that this is true, and pass from mere imagining into belief and into madness, quite convinced that where he would prefer to be, he is.

Is this a hindrance to the place whereon he stands? Is any echo from the past that he may hear a fact in what is there to hear where he is now? And how much can his own illusions about time and place effect a change in where he really is?

The unforgiven is a voice that calls from out a past forevermore gone by. And everything that points to it as real is but a wish that what is gone could be made real again and seen as here and now, in place of what is really now and here. Is this a hindrance to the truth the past is gone, and cannot be returned to you? And do you want that fearful instant kept, when Heaven seemed to disappear and God was feared and made a symbol of your hate?

Forget the time of terror that has been so long ago corrected and undone. Can sin withstand the Will of God? Can it be up to you to see the past and put it in the present? You can not go back. And everything that points the way in the direction of the past but sets you on a mission whose accomplishment can only be unreal. Such is the justice your All-Loving Father has ensured must come to you. And from your own unfairness to yourself has He protected you. You cannot lose your way because there is no way but His, and nowhere can you go except to Him.

Would God allow His Son to lose his way along a road long since a memory of time gone by? This course will teach you only what is now. A dreadful instant in a distant past, now perfectly corrected, is of no concern nor value. Let the dead and gone be peacefully forgotten. Resurrection has come to take its place. And now you are a part of resurrection, not of death. No past illusions have the power to keep you in a place of death, a vault God’s Son entered an instant, to be instantly restored unto His Father’s perfect Love. And how can he be kept in chains long since removed and gone forever from his mind?

The Son whom God created is as free as God created him. He was reborn the instant that he chose to die instead of live. And will you not forgive him now, because he made an error in the past that God remembers not, and is not there? Now you are shifting back and forth between the past and present. Sometimes the past seems real, as if it were the present. Voices from the past are heard and then are doubted. You are like to one who still hallucinates, but lacks conviction in what he perceives. This is the borderland between the worlds, the bridge between the past and present. Here the shadow of the past remains, but still a present light is dimly recognised. Once it is seen, this light can never be forgotten. It must draw you from the past into the present, where you really are.

The shadow voices do not change the laws of time nor of eternity. They come from what is past and gone, and hinder not the true existence of the here and now. The real world is the second part of the hallucination time and death are real, and have existence that can be perceived. This terrible illusion was denied in but the time it took for God to give His Answer to illusion for all time and every circumstance. And then it was no more to be experienced as there.

Each day, and every minute in each day, and every instant that each minute holds, you but relive the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love. And so you die each day to live again, until you cross the gap between the past and present, which is not a gap at all. Such is each life; a seeming interval from birth to death and on to life again, a repetition of an instant gone by long ago that cannot be relived. And all of time is but the mad belief that what is over is still here and now.

Forgive the past and let it go, for it is gone. You stand no longer on the ground that lies between the worlds. You have gone on, and reached the world that lies at Heaven’s gate. There is no hindrance to the Will of God, nor any need that you repeat again a journey that was over long ago. Look gently on your brother, and behold the world in which perception of your hate has been transformed into a world of love.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 4

Lesson 231

2. What is Salvation?

Salvation is a promise, made by God, that you would find your way to Him at last.  It cannot but be kept.  It guarantees that time will have an end, and all the thoughts that have been born in time will end as well.  God’s Word is given every mind which thinks that it has separate thoughts, and will replace these thoughts of conflict with the Thought of peace.

The Thought of peace was given to God’s Son the instant that his mind had thought of war.  There was no need for such a Thought before, for peace was given without opposite, and merely was.  But when the mind is split there is a need of healing.  So the Thought that has the power to heal the split became a part of every fragment of the mind that still was one, but failed to recognize its oneness.  Now it did not know itself, and thought its own Identity was lost.

Salvation is undoing in the sense that it does nothing, failing to support the world of dreams and malice.  Thus it lets illusions go.  By not supporting them, it merely lets them quietly go down to dust.  And what they hid is now revealed; an altar to the holy Name of God whereon His Word is written, with the gifts of your forgiveness laid before it, and the memory of God not far behind.

Let us come daily to this holy place, and spend a while together.  Here we share our final dream.  It is a dream in which there is no sorrow, for it holds a hint of all the glory given us by God. The grass is pushing through the soil, the trees are budding now, and birds have come to live within their branches.  Earth is being born again in new perspective.  Night has gone, and we have come together in the light.

From here we give salvation to the world, for it is here salvation was received.  The song of our rejoicing is the call to all the world that freedom is returned, that time is almost over, and God’s Son has but an instant more to wait until his Father is remembered, dreams are done, eternity has shined away the world, and only Heaven now exists at all.


Lesson 231

Father, I will but to remember You.

What can I seek for, Father, but Your Love? Perhaps I think I seek for something else; a something I have called by many names. Yet is Your Love the only thing I seek, or ever sought. For there is nothing else that I could ever really want to find. Let me remember You. What else could I desire but the truth about myself?

This is your will, my brother. And you share this will with me, and with the One as well Who is our Father. To remember Him is Heaven. This we seek. And only this is what it will be given us to find.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the role of meditation in practicing A Course in Miracles?

A) Meditation as such is not an integral part of the Course’s curriculum. Certainly one can take the workbook lessons and their one-year training program to be exercises in meditation. But, again, these are only meant for a one-year period. However, Jesus would never object to his students spending quiet time with him, asking for help in removing the blocks of guilt and hate that interfere with their awareness of his loving presence. Nevertheless, he specifically cautions students not to make idols of their regular periods of spiritual practice, even though they may still require structure, part of which, naturally, could be times of meditation or quiet:

But what about those who have not reached his [an advanced teacher of God’s] certainty? They are not yet ready for such lack of structuring on their own part.  What must they do to learn to give the day to God? There are some general rules which do apply, although each one must use them as best he can in his own way. Routines as such are dangerous, because they easily become gods in their own right, threatening the very goals for which they were set up (M-16.2:1-5; italics ours).

In “I Need Do Nothing,” his special message to Helen which we quoted above, Jesus specifically discusses how his Course is not a course in meditation, but rather has a much different focus. This does not make it necessarily better than other paths, but it does establish how different it is from them:

Many have spent a lifetime in preparation, and have indeed achieved their instants of success. This course does not attempt to teach more than they learned in time, but it does aim at saving time …. It is extremely difficult to reach Atonement by fighting against sin. Enormous effort is expended in the attempt to make holy what is hated and despised [the body]. Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary. All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose, Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of  present unworthiness and inadequacy.Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means. … You are not making use of the course if you insist on using means which have served others well, neglecting what was made for you (T- I8.VII.4:4-5,7-11; 5:1; 6:5; italics ours in 4:9).

And so, students of A Course in Miracles would be silly not to meditate, if such a practice is beneficial to their spiritual path. And Jesus, again, would hardly seek to dissuade them. However, he would caution them, as we have seen, not to make the meditative practice a source of dependency. It should be a means, not an end. Moreover, it would certainly be a mistake if such students felt that all students of A Course in Miracles must meditate, simply because they did. Students should never forget that the curriculum is highly individualized, and that the personal curriculum is undertaken between each individual student and the Holy Spirit.

There is another caution we may note here regarding dependency and meditation. The clear purpose of A Course in Miracles, and specifically the workbook, is for its students to generalize the lessons and principles to all aspects of their daily lives, at all times. It would be directly against this purpose to have students need to take time out from a difficult situation so as to go apart and be externally quiet. This clearly would never work in the midst of a traffic jam, a difficult meeting, a psychotherapy session, a classroom, a car filled with boisterous children, etc. If the quiet cannot be internalized so that one knows that Jesus or the Holy Spirit is always present in the mind, then the actual meditation has been of little use. Rather, students should aim at generalizing these quiet times to all times, learning how accessible their true Teacher is.

present love

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 3

ACIM Text Reading for September 3

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

IV. Where Sin Has Left

Forgiveness is this world’s equivalent of Heaven’s justice. It translates the world of sin into a simple world, where justice can be reflected from beyond the gate behind which total lack of limits lies. Nothing in boundless love could need forgiveness. And what is charity within the world gives way to simple justice past the gate that opens into Heaven. No one forgives unless he has believed in sin, and still believes that he has much to be forgiven. Forgiveness thus becomes the means by which he learns he has done nothing to forgive. Forgiveness always rests upon the one who offers it, until he sees himself as needing it no more. And thus is he returned to his real function of creating, which his forgiveness offers him again.

Forgiveness turns the world of sin into a world of glory, wonderful to see. Each flower shines in light, and every bird sings of the joy of Heaven. There is no sadness and there is no parting here, for everything is totally forgiven. And what has been forgiven must join, for nothing stands between to keep them separate and apart. The sinless must perceive that they are one, for nothing stands between to push the other off. And in the space that sin left vacant do they join as one, in gladness recognising what is part of them has not been kept apart and separate.

The holy place on which you stand is but the space that sin has left. And here you see the face of Christ, arising in its place. Who could behold the face of Christ and not recall His Father as He really is? Who could fear love, and stand upon the ground where sin has left a place for Heaven’s altar to rise and tower far above the world, and reach beyond the universe to touch the Heart of all creation? What is Heaven but a song of gratitude and love and praise by everything created to the Source of its creation? The holiest of altars is set where once sin was ‘believed to be. And here does every light of Heaven come, to be rekindled and increased in joy. For here is what was lost restored to them, and all their radiance made whole again.

Forgiveness brings no little miracles to lay before the gate of Heaven. Here the Son of God Himself comes to receive each gift that brings him nearer to his home. Not one is lost, and none is cherished more than any other. Each reminds him of his Father’s Love as surely as the rest. And each one teaches him that what he feared he loves the most. What but a miracle could change his mind, so that he understands that love cannot be feared What other miracle is there but this? And what else need there be to make the space between you disappear?

Where sin once was perceived will rise a world that will become an altar to the truth, and you will join the lights of Heaven there, and sing their song of gratitude and praise. And as they come to you to be complete, so will you go with them. For no one hears the song of Heaven and remains without a voice that adds its power to the song, and makes it sweeter still. And each one joins the singing at the altar that was raised within the tiny spot that sin proclaimed to be its own. And what was tiny then has soared into a magnitude of song in which the universe has joined with but a single voice.

This tiny spot of sin that stands between you and your brother still is holding back the happy opening of Heaven’s gate. How little is the hindrance that withholds the wealth of Heaven from you. And how great will be the joy in Heaven when you join the mighty chorus to the Love of God!

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 3

Lesson 230

Now will I seek and find the peace of God.

In peace I was created. And in peace do I remain. It is not given me to change my Self. How merciful is God my Father, that when He created me He gave me peace forever. Now I ask but to be what I am. And can this be denied me, when it is forever true?

Father, I seek the peace You gave as mine in my creation. What was given then must be here now, for my creation was apart from time, and still remains beyond all change. The peace in which Your Son was born into Your Mind is shining there unchanged. I am as You created me. I need but call on You to find the peace You gave. It is Your Will that gave it to Your Son.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) A Course in Miracles says that there is no love without ambivalence. Does this mean that I never come from a loving space, and that all my thoughts and actions are from my ego? 

A) No, it certainly does not. The specific statement in the Course is as follows: 

You project onto the ego the decision to separate, and this conflicts with the love you feel for the ego because you made it. No love in this world is without this ambivalence, and since no ego has experienced love without ambivalence the concept is beyond its understanding. Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly. This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s “drive to get” (T-4.III.4:5-8).

This passage clearly implies that when we choose the correction of the Holy Spirit in our right minds — the holy instant — and truly let go of our egos, we can become a reflection of love, a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. In this case, it is indeed possible to come from a loving space. In fact, the principal goal of the Course is to have students learn to access their right minds, the loving home of the Holy Spirit.  However, one needs to be discerning, for very often the ego’s special love can appear to be identical to the Holy Spirit’s real Love.  The ego’s unconscious “drive to get” — the core of specialness — is still very much present, and serves to mask the truth with the clever lies of illusion. 

Any thought, word, or deed that proceeds from the wrong mind, even though it appears as loving, cannot be so. Therefore, to evaluate any interaction by appearances can be but a lack of discernment stemming from our need to appear loving and understanding; in other words, what our egos would bless as “spiritually enlightened” behavior. We should not underestimate the need each one of us has to be accepted by others because we want to be judged by them as loving. This need becomes a powerful interference to choosing our right minds, wherein lies the only real love. 

Sometimes the most loving action, emanating from our right minds, would be to say “No” to someone’s request, incurring their disappointment and anger. That is why Jesus states: 

To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning. No belief is neutral.  Every one has the power to dictate each decision you make (T-24.in.2:1-4).

Let us suppose that an unconscious value that our egos hold is to be popular and admired by many for being a loving and thoughtful person. Our whole life’s script then, emanating from our wrong minds, revolves around being this kind of dream figure. We might achieve our goal, but at what cost? Students of A Course in Miracles sometimes make this mistake of judging by appearance and form. Sometimes the most difficult correction for us to accept is to go against some “cherished value” of our egos — above all, the models of special love and special hate relationships. If students can be reasonably clear that they have uncovered their unconscious ego values and have the little willingness to access the correction in their right minds — getting themselves out of the way — then they will be manifestations of the thought system of the Holy Spirit and not the ego. 

Indeed, our daily practice of forgiveness is what allows us to be increasingly in touch with this loving Presence of truth in our split minds, so that our thoughts, words, and deeds can express this truth. Therefore, it is certainly possible that our lives can come from our right minds and not our wrong minds, from the Holy Spirit and not the ego. It is this process of increasingly reflecting love instead of hate that brings us to the gate of Heaven, beyond which is the Love of God. 

you have no idea

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 2

ACIM Text Reading for September 2

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

III. The Borderland

Complexity is not of God. How could it be, when all He knows is one? He knows of one creation, one reality, one truth and but one Son. Nothing conflicts with oneness. How, then, could there be complexity in Him? What is there to decide? For it is conflict that makes choice possible. The truth is simple; it is one, without an opposite. And how could strife enter in its simple presence, and bring complexity where oneness is? The truth makes no decisions, for there is nothing to decide between. And only if there were could choosing be a necessary step in the advance toward oneness. What is everything leaves room for nothing else. Yet is this magnitude beyond the scope of this curriculum. Nor is it necessary we dwell on anything that cannot be immediately grasped.

There is a borderland of thought that stands between this world and Heaven. It is not a place, and when you reach it is apart from time. Here is the meeting place where thoughts are brought together; where conflicting values meet and all illusions are laid down beside the truth, where they are judged to be untrue. This borderland is just beyond the gate of Heaven. Here is every thought made pure and wholly simple. Here is sin denied, and everything that is received instead.

This is the journey’s end. We have referred to it as the real world. And yet there is a contradiction here, in that the words imply a limited reality, a partial truth, a segment of the universe made true. This is because knowledge makes no attack upon perception. They are brought together, and only one continues past the gate where Oneness is. Salvation is a borderland where place and time and choice have meaning still, and yet it can be seen that they are temporary, out of place, and every choice has been already made.

Nothing the Son of God believes can be destroyed. But what is truth to him must be brought to the last comparison that he will ever make; the last evaluation that will be possible, the final judgement upon this world. It is the judgement of the truth upon illusion, of knowledge on perception: ‘It has no meaning, and does not exist’. This is not your decision. It is but a simple statement of a simple fact. But in this world there are no simple facts, because what is the same and what is different remain unclear. The one essential thing to make a choice at all is this distinction. And herein lies the difference between the worlds. In this one, choice is made impossible. In the real world is choosing simplified.

Salvation stops just short of Heaven, for only perception needs salvation. Heaven was never lost, and so cannot be saved. Yet who can make a choice between the wish for Heaven and the wish for hell unless he recognises they are not the same? This difference is the learning goal this course has set. It will not go beyond this aim. Its only purpose is to teach what is the same and what is different, leaving room to make the only choice that can be made.

There is no basis for a choice in this complex and over-complicated world. For no one understands what is the same, and seems to choose where no choice really is. The real world is the area of choice made real, not in the outcome, but in the perception of alternatives for choice. That there is choice is an illusion. Yet within this one lies the undoing of every illusion, not excepting this.

Is not this like your special function, where the separation is undone by change of purpose in what once was specialness, and now is union? All illusions are but one. And in the recognition this is so lies the ability to give up all attempts to choose between them, and to make them different. How simple is the choice between two things so clearly unalike. There is no conflict here. No sacrifice is possible in the relinquishment of an illusion recognised as such. Where all reality has been withdrawn from what was never true, can it be hard to give it up, and choose what must be true?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 2

Lesson 229

Love, which created me, is what I am.

I seek my own Identity, and find It in these words: “Love, which created me, is what I am.” Now need I seek no more. Love has prevailed. So still It waited for my coming home, that I will turn away no longer from the holy face of Christ. And what I look upon attests the truth of the Identity I sought to lose, but which my Father has kept safe for me.

Father, my thanks to You for what I am; for keeping my Identity untouched and sinless, in the midst of all the thoughts of sin my foolish mind made up. And thanks to You for saving me from them. Amen.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) How free are we in our everyday lives to act in our own best interests, especially if, as A Course in Miracles says, we are all hallucinating? 

A) This answer begins where the previous one ends. Within the dream of our individual existence — the hallucination — we are free to choose. However, such choosing has nothing to do with what the world understands by choosing, especially when we think of trying to act in our own best interests. We cannot act in our best interests because, as the workbook reminds us, “I do not perceive my own best interests” (W-pI.24; italics ours). This is a crucial aspect in the understanding of the Course, and the above lesson states the point clearly: 

In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy.  Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result.  What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are. If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn (W-pI.24.1-2:2).

Therefore, throughout A Course in Miracles, Jesus urges us to consult either him or the Holy Spirit, for They are the only ones Who do know what our best interests are. And these, naturally, always involve the change of mind or perception that reflects our decisions to forgive instead of to attack. On our own, we cannot forgive, let alone know what choices we should make. However, we are always free to choose our teacher, and in that choice we have already acted in our own best interests. And this, and only this, is the meaning of free will within this world of illusion, for it is from the right mind alone that the right choice — our best interest — can result. Thus it is that Jesus addresses his students: “Resign now as your own teacher… for you were badly taught” (T-12.V.8:3; T-28.I.7:1), and he asks that they choose instead the Teacher Whose wisdom will always teach them correctly. 

secret of salvation

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 1

ACIM Text Reading for September 1

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

II. Many Forms; One Correction

It is not difficult to understand the reasons why you do not ask the Holy Spirit to solve all problems for you. He has not greater difficulty in resolving some than others. Every problem is the same to Him, because each one is solved in just the same respect and through the same approach. The aspects that need solving do not change, whatever form the problem seems to take. A problem can appear in many forms, and it will do so while the problem lasts. It serves no purpose to attempt to solve it in a special form. It will recur and then recur again and yet again, until it has been answered for all time and will not rise again in any form. And only then are you released from it.

The Holy Spirit offers you release from every problem that you think you have. They are the same to Him because each one, regardless of the form it seems to take, is a demand that someone suffer loss and make a sacrifice that you might gain. And when the situation is worked out so no one loses is the problem gone, because it was an error in perception that now has been corrected. One mistake is not more difficult for Him to bring to truth than is another. For there is but one mistake; the whole idea that loss is possible, and could result in gain for anyone. If this were true, then God would be unfair; sin would be possible, attack be justified and vengeance fair.

This one mistake, in any form, has one correction. There is no loss; to think there is, is a mistake. You have no problems, though you think you have. And yet you could not think so if you saw them vanish one by one, without regard to size, complexity, or place and time, or any attribute which you perceive that makes each one seem different from the rest. Think not the limits you impose on what you see can limit God in any way.

The miracle of justice can correct all errors. Every problem is an error. It does injustice to the Son of God, and therefore is not true. The Holy Spirit does not evaluate injustices as great or small, or more or less. They have no properties to Him. They are mistakes from which the Son of God is suffering, but needlessly. And so He takes the thorns and nails away. He does not pause to judge whether the hurt be large or little. He makes but one judgement; that to hurt God’s Son must be unfair and therefore is not so.

You who believe it safe to give but some mistakes to be corrected while you keep the others to yourself, remember this: Justice is total. There is no such thing as partial justice. If the Son of God is guilty then is he condemned, and he deserves no mercy from the God of justice. But ask not God to punish him because you find him guilty and would have him die. God offers you the means to see his innocence. Would it be fair to punish him because you will not look at what is there to see? Each time you keep a problem for yourself to solve, or judge that it is one that has no resolution, you have made it great, and past the hope of healing. You deny the miracle of justice can be fair.

If God is just, then can there be no problems that justice cannot solve. But you believe that some injustices are fair and good, and necessary to preserve yourself. It is these problems that you think are great and cannot be resolved. For there are those you want to suffer loss, and no one whom you wish to be preserved from sacrifice entirely. Consider once again your special function. One is given you to see in him his perfect sinlessness. And you will ask no sacrifice of him because you could not will he suffer loss. The miracle of justice you call forth will rest on you as surely as on him. Nor will the Holy Spirit be content until it is received by everyone. For what you give to Him is everyone’s, and by your giving it can He ensure that everyone receives it equally.

Think, then, how great your own release will be when you are willing to receive correction for all your problems. You will not keep one, for pain in any form you will not want. And you will see each little hurt resolved before the Holy Spirit’s gentle sight. For all of them are little in His sight, and worth no more than just a tiny sigh before they disappear, to be forever undone and unremembered. What seemed once to be a special problem, a mistake without a remedy, or an affliction without a cure, has been transformed into a universal blessing. Sacrifice is gone. And in its place the Love of God can be remembered, and will shine away all memory of sacrifice and loss.

God cannot be remembered until justice is loved instead of feared. He cannot be unjust to anyone or anything, because He knows that everything that is belongs to Him, and will forever be as He created it. Nothing He loves but must be sinless and beyond attack. Your special function opens wide the door beyond which is the memory of His Love kept perfectly intact and undefiled. And all you need to do is but to wish that Heaven be given you instead of hell, and every bolt and barrier that seems to hold the door securely barred and locked will merely fall away and disappear. For it is not your Father’s Will that you should offer or receive less than He gave, when He created you in perfect love.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 1

Lesson 228

God has condemned me not. No more do I.

My Father knows my holiness. Shall I deny His knowledge, and believe in what His knowledge makes impossible? Shall I accept as true what He proclaims as false? Or shall I take His Word for what I am, since He is my Creator, and the One Who knows the true condition of His Son?

Father, I was mistaken in myself, because I failed to realize the Source from which I came. I have not left that Source to enter in a body and to die. My holiness remains a part of me, as I am part of You. And my mistakes about myself are dreams. I let them go today. And I stand ready to receive Your Word alone for what I really am.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is there such a thing as free will, and what is it anyway? 

A) This question must be answered in two parts: 

    1) In Heaven there can be no free will, for how can the Son of God be free to choose when there is literally nothing there to choose from? In a non-dualistic reality, which is the state of Heaven, there is only perfect Oneness. That is why A Course in Miracles states that the Will of God and the will of His Son are one and the same. And so there can be nothing else, and therefore nothing to choose between. Moreover, the process of choosing has meaning only within a subject-object world: a subject who chooses among different objects, all perceived and experienced to be outside the mind that chooses. Therefore, the term “free will” has no meaning here, unless it is used, as A Course in Miracles does in one place, to refer to the “freedom of will,” the title of a section in Chapter 30. However, in this instance the term means something quite different from the usual conception of “free will.” In Heaven, our will is free because it cannot be imprisoned, which is a statement that reflects the Atonement principle that the separation from God never happened. Therefore, the Son of God cannot truly be imprisoned by his own mistaken belief that he has sinned against his Creator, and thus been made a prisoner to his own guilt. We read in several places: 

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 (T-30.II.2). In the holy state the will is free, so that its creative power is unlimited and choice is meaningless (T-5.II.6:4). 

It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God Who coerces you, because He shares His Will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit’s lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God’s cannot be out of accord because they are one (T-8.II.3:2-6).

When we finally accept the Atonement for ourselves, awakening from the dream and thus becoming manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the recognition that our wills are one with God’s must inevitably follow.
    2) Within the dream, however, which is the realm of perception and illusion, the concept of free will becomes extremely important and meaningful for it is the mechanism of salvation. In his dream, the Son believed that he had chosen against God, and this set into motion the whole drama of the unholy trinity — sin, guilt, and fear — culminating in the making of the physical universe as a defense against the perceived wrathful vengeance of the ego’s made-up God. Thus, within the dream, the same power of the Son’s mind to choose against God, now must be free to choose for Him. And so Jesus states in a number of important passages: 

In this world the only remaining freedom is the freedom of choice; always between two choices or two voices. Will is not involved in perception at any level, and has nothing to do with choice (manual, p. 75; C-1.7:1-2). The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven. The sleeping Son of God has but this power left to him (M-21.3:5-7). 

You have chosen to be in a state of opposition in which opposites are possible. As a result, there are choices you must make….Choosing depends on a split mind (T-5.II.6:2-3,6). 

Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God? you will accept only whom you invite. You are free to determine who shall be your guest, and how long he shall remain with you. Yet this is not real freedom, for it still depends on how you see it (T-11.II.7:1-4; italics ours).

Indeed, one might say that a purpose of A Course in Miracles is for Jesus to teach us that we do have a choice within our dreams of separation and specialness, and that this choice rests within our minds. By learning the meaning of forgiveness, which is that our experience of the world is a projection of a decision in our minds that can now be changed, we learn to exercise this free will. Thus we ultimately learn and remember that our true will has been free all along. We simply had forgotten. And so Jesus states: “The Holy Spirit calls you both to remember [God] and to forget [the ego]”  (T-5.II.6:1). 

teach not that i died in vain

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 31

ACIM Text Reading for August 31

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

I. The ‘Sacrifice’ of Oneness

In the ‘dynamics’ of attack is sacrifice a key idea. It is the pivot upon which all compromise, all desperate attempts to strike a bargain, and all conflicts achieve a seeming balance. It is the symbol of the central theme that somebody must lose. Its focus on the body is apparent, for it is always an attempt to limit loss. The body is itself a sacrifice; a giving up of power in the name of saving just a little for yourself. To see a brother in another body, separate from yours, is the expression of a wish to see a little part of him and sacrifice the rest. Look at the world, and you will see nothing attached to anything beyond itself. All seeming entities can come a little nearer, or go a little farther off, but cannot join.

The world you see is based on ‘sacrifice’ of oneness. It is a picture of complete disunity and total lack of joining. Around each entity is built a wall so seeming solid that it looks as if what is inside can never reach without, and what is out can never reach and join with what is locked away within the wall. Each part must sacrifice the other part, to keep itself complete. For if they joined each one would lose its own identity, and by their separation are their selves maintained.

The little that the body fences off becomes the self, preserved through sacrifice of all the rest. And all the rest must lose this little part, remaining incomplete to keep its own identity intact. In this perception of yourself the body’s loss would be a sacrifice indeed. For sight of bodies becomes the sign that sacrifice is limited, and something still remains for you alone. And for this little to belong to you are limits placed on everything outside, just as they are on everything you think is yours. For giving and receiving are the same. And to accept the limits of a body is to impose these limits on each brother whom you see. For you must see him as you see yourself.

The body is a loss, and can be made to sacrifice. And while you see your brother as a body, apart from you and separate in his cell, you are demanding sacrifice of him and you. What greater sacrifice could be demanded than that God’s Son perceive himself without his Father? And his Father be without His Son? Yet every sacrifice demands that they be separate and without the other. The memory of God must be denied if any sacrifice is asked of anyone. What witness to the wholeness of God’s Son is seen within a world of separate bodies, however much he witnesses to truth? He is invisible in such a world. Nor can his song of union and of love be heard at all. Yet is it given him to make the world recede before his song, and sight of him replace the body’s eyes.

Those who would see the witnesses to truth instead of to illusion merely ask that they might see a purpose in the world that gives it sense and makes it meaningful. Without your special function has this world no meaning for you. Yet it can become a treasure house as rich and limitless as Heaven itself. No instant passes here in which your brother’s holiness cannot be seen, to add a limitless supply to every meagre scrap and tiny crumb of happiness that you allot yourself.

You can lose sight of oneness, but can not make sacrifice of its reality. Nor can you lose what you would sacrifice, nor keep the Holy Spirit from His task of showing you that it has not been lost. Hear, then, the song your brother sings to you, and let the world recede, and take the rest his witness offers on behalf of peace. But judge him not, for you will hear no song of liberation for yourself, nor see what it is given him to witness to, that you may see it and rejoice with him. Make not his holiness a sacrifice to your belief in sin. You sacrifice your innocence with his, and die each time you see in him a sin deserving death.

Yet every instant can you be reborn, and given life again. His holiness gives life to you, who cannot die because his sinlessness is known to God; and can no more be sacrificed by you than can the light in you be blotted out because he sees it not. You who would make a sacrifice of life, and make your eyes and ears bear witness to the death of God and of His holy Son, think not that you have power to make of them what God willed not they be. In Heaven, God’s Son is not imprisoned in a body, nor is sacrificed in solitude to sin. And as he is in Heaven, so must he be eternally and everywhere. He is the same forever. Born again each instant, untouched by time, and far beyond the reach of any sacrifice of life or death. For neither did he make, and only one was given him by One Who knows His gifts can never suffer sacrifice and loss.

God’s justice rests in gentleness upon His Son, and keeps him safe from all injustice the world would lay upon him. Could it be that you could make his sins reality, and sacrifice his Father’s Will for him? Condemn him not by seeing him within the rotting prison where he sees himself. It is your special function to ensure the door be opened, that he may come forth to shine on you, and give you back the gift of freedom by receiving it of you. What is the Holy Spirit’s special function but to release the holy Son of God from the imprisonment he made to keep himself from justice? Could your function be a task apart and separate from His Own?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 31

Lesson 227

This is my holy instant of release.

Father, it is today that I am free, because my will is Yours. I thought to make another will. Yet nothing that I thought apart from You exists. And I am free because I was mistaken, and did not affect my own reality at all by my illusions. Now I give them up, and lay them down before the feet of truth, to be removed forever from my mind. This is my holy instant of release. Father, I know my will is one with Yours.

And so today we find our glad return to Heaven, which we never really left. The Son of God this day lays down his dreams. The Son of God this day comes home again, released from sin and clad in holiness, with his right mind restored to him at last.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) A Course in Miracles teaches that all has already happened. Isn’t  this the same as predestination? 

A) The traditional understanding of predestination, stemming from John Calvin, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, is that from the beginning of time God had chosen (predestined) those to be saved (the “elect”) and those to be punished (the “sinners”) in the future. And this decision was irrevocable and unchangeable. 

The view of A Course in Miracles is that yes, everything has already happened — and in that sense the drama of the world is irrevocable (“the script is written”) — but this includes both the ego’s script and the Holy Spirit’s correction for it. To re-quote an important passage:

God gave His Teacher to replace the one you made …. And what He would replace has been replaced. Time lasted but an instant in your mind, with no effect upon eternity.  And so is all time past, and everything exactly as it was before the way to nothingness was made.  The tiny tick of time in which the first mistake was made, and all of them within that one mistake, held also the Correction for that one, and all of them that came within the first 
(T-26.V.3:1-5).

Therefore, in A Course in Miracles, the agent of predestination is the “decision maker,” not God, for it is this aspect of the tri-partite or split mind that has authored the scripts of our lives in the physical universe. However, this same split mind has the capacity, through the “decision maker,” to choose at any given instant which teacher — the ego or Jesus — will guide us as we “review mentally” the scripts that have “already gone by.” The “we,” to make the point once again, is not the self we call ourselves by name, but rather the “decision maker” in our minds — outside time and space, and outside the ancient ego script.  And here the choice is certainly not predestined. It is thus clear that the Course’s statement “the script is written” is not to be understood temporally at all, while the traditional view of predestination is, for it is based upon a decision made by God in the past, which will inevitably be carried out in the future.