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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 15 "THE PURPOSE OF TIME"
III. TIME AND ETERNITY
18 How long can it take to be where God would have you? For you are where you have forever been and will forever be. All that you have, you have forever. The blessed instant reaches out to encompass time, as God extends Himself to encompass you. You who have spent days, hours, and even years in chaining your brothers to your egos in an attempt to support it and uphold its weakness, do not perceive the Source of strength. In the holy instant, you will unchain all your brothers and refuse to support either their weakness or your own.
ON LINE: ACIM.OE.TX.CH 15.III
AUDIO:TEXT CH 15, III
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
L e s s o n 163
There is no death. The Son of God is free.
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
~ The Original Handscript Notes
Death is a thought which takes on many forms,
many unrecognized. It may appear
as sadness, fear, anxiety or doubt;
as anger, faithlessness and lack of trust;
concern for bodies, envy, and all forms
in which the wish to be as you are not
may come to tempt you. All such thoughts are but
reflections of the worshipping of death
as saviour and as giver of release.
Embodiment of fear, the host of sin,
god of the guilty and the lord of all
illusions and deceptions, does the thought
of death seem mighty. For it seems to hold
all living things within its withered hand;
all hopes and wishes in its blighting grasp;
all goals perceived but in its sightless eyes.
The frail, the helpless and the sick bow down
before its image, thinking it alone
is real, inevitable, worthy of
their trust. For it alone will surely come.
All things but death are seen to be unsure,
too quickly lost however hard to gain,
uncertain in their outcome, apt to fail
the hopes they once engendered, and to leave
the taste of dust and ashes in their wake,
in place of aspirations and of dreams.
But death is counted on. For it will come
with certain footsteps when the time has come
for its arrival. It will never fail
to take all life as hostage to itself.
Would you bow down to idols such as this?
Here is the strength and might of God Himself
perceived within an idol made of dust.
Here is the opposite of God proclaimed
as lord of all creation, stronger than
God's Will for life, the endlessness of love
and Heaven's perfect, changeless constancy.
Here is the Will of Father and of Son
defeated finally, and laid to rest
beneath the headstone death has placed upon
the body of the holy Son of God.
Unholy in defeat, he has become
what death would have him be. His epitaph,
which death itself has written, gives no name
to him, for he has passed to dust. It says
but this: "Here lies a witness God is dead."
And this it writes again and yet again,
while all the while its worshippers agree,
and kneeling down with foreheads to the ground,
they whisper fearfully that it is so.
It is impossible to worship death
in any form, and still select a few
you would not cherish and would yet avoid,
while still believing in the rest. For death
is total. Either all things die, or else
they live and cannot die. No compromise
is possible. For here again we see
an obvious position which we must
accept if we be sane; what contradicts
one thought entirely can not be true,
unless its opposite is proven false.
The idea of the death of God is so
preposterous that even the insane
have difficulty in believing it.
For it implies that God was once alive
and somehow perished, killed, apparently,
by those who did not want him to survive.
Their stronger will could triumph over His,
and so Eternal Life gave way to death.
And with the Father died the Son as well.
Death's worshipers may be afraid. And yet
can thoughts like these be fearful? If they saw
that it is only this that they believe,
they would be instantly released. And we
will show them this today. There is no death,
and we renounce it now in every form
for their salvation and our own as well.
God made not death. Whatever form it takes
must therefore be illusion. This the stand
we take today. And it is given us
to see past death and see the life beyond.
Our Father, bless our eyes today. We are
Your messengers, and we would look upon
the glorious reflection of Your Love
which shines in everything. We live and breathe
in You alone. We are not separate
from Your Eternal Life. There is no death,
for death is not Your Will. And we abide
where You have placed us, in the Life we share
with You and with all living things, to be
like You and part of You forever. We
accept Your Thoughts as ours, and our will
is One with Yours eternally. Amen
ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections
There is no death. The Son of God is free.
The whole teaching on death in the Course is fascinating because, as the Manual for Teachers lays out in Section 27, "Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem." (M.27.1.1) Thus, it is the final judgment of the ego against God. It says that our bodily reality is what is real, and if the body is what is real, God's reality cannot be true. Thus, death is held up as the proof that our reality as eternal beings cannot be true.
Death, according to the ego, is what God extracts from us for our sin of separation. Death provides evidence that the ego is right after all, and thus it says that we cannot possibly be the eternal spirit that Jesus tells us we are. This Lesson provides the framework for how we currently think about death and offers us a very logical process for looking at it in a new way. To begin with, we are told that death is an illusion because the ego has no power over life. God is the Creator of life, and Jesus tells us that life is all there is. "Nothing can be apart from Him and live." (W.156.2.9) We live because we can't be apart from Him. There is only life and it never ends. We don't live many lives, but only experience many dream states as part of this one life we share with God.
The purpose of the ego is to defeat God, and death seems to be its ultimate weapon, which it uses to try to convince us that it is the only thing we can be certain about. If death is true, it would have to mean the body is real and our experience in the body is what life is.
Jesus starts out by saying, "Death is a thought that takes many forms, often unrecognized." (W.163.1.1) Certainly, when we read of the forms of death talked about here, (sadness, fear, anxiety, doubt, anger, faithlessness, lack of trust, concern for bodies, and envy), we don't think of these as death. When we think of death, we think it is about bodies that die, but Jesus says that death includes a long list of experiences that tempt us to be something we are not. The temptation, of course, is to think we are bodies experiencing a wide range of emotions. Each time we choose a thought of death, we choose a state of mind that confirms that we are something we are not.
"Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach."
(T.31.VIII.1.1-3) (ACIM OE T.31.VIII.83) These forms of death seem to make sin, guilt, and fear real because they originate with the belief in our separation from God and thus our separation from the Self as created by Him.
If we are unlimited, eternal beings of peace, innocence, and joy, certainly, states of fear, anxiety, doubt, anger, envy, lack of trust, and ". . . all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you," (W.163.1.2) can't be real. When we think of these forms of death as real, death of the body seems to us to be a release from the concerns of this world. Thus, we associate peace with death and trust in its inevitability. Everything else we experience in this world seems uncertain, except for our belief in the certainty of death. It is certainly a powerful symbol of the reality of the body, but Jesus says that our reality is unlimited life, which does not start with birth nor end in death.
When we chose to listen to the ego, we chose the thought system of sin, guilt, and fear. In other words, we escaped into the body and made the world as a place to hide from what the ego has told us is our terrible deed of having left God; now we fear His retribution. None of this is true, but we have bought into the story that the ego made up. We escaped into the body and the world, where we believed we could be safe from God, and thus we maintain our independent will and our specialness as a separate, unique self. The ego has convinced us that we have stolen our lives from God, that what we are is a body, and that the ultimate end is death. It now seems to us that, because we could destroy life, we have made death real and have, therefore, become more powerful than God. He says that we are eternal, but through death, we prove Him wrong, which gives the ego power over life. If death were real, the ego thought system would have to be right. And of course, since we identify with the ego, we believe in the reality and certainty of death. Now we are asked to question this belief.
Death is very apparent in this world. We see it everywhere. It is an experience that has touched all of us. We read about the many tragedies ending in death, and we experience the loss associated with the death of loved ones. We may fear our own impending death or the death of our family members, friends, and others close to us. Thus, it shows up with certainty in the world and so, to us, it does seem very real and something we expect and rely on, "For it alone will surely come." (W.163.2.4) Everything else seems less certain to us, yet this we can all count on. "All things but death are seen to be unsure, too quickly lost however hard to gain, uncertain in their outcome, apt to fail the hopes they once engendered, and to leave the taste of dust and ashes in their wake, in place of aspirations and of dreams." (W.163.3.1)
Everything else in the world comes and goes, yet death seems to be a constant. All our relationships, dreams, and aspirations, while initially exciting and offering lots of promise, will be lost in this battle with the inevitability of death. Nothing can outlast death. No wonder we hold it in such awe or worship it, as this Lesson says, over and over again. Nothing has the power over us that death has. Nothing brings up more fear in us. Even if we believe in life after death, we still think death is real. Yet the truth is that what we really are is totally unaffected by birth or death. We are still as we were created, and nothing we have come to believe can change our reality. "There is one life, and that I share with God." (W.167)
We try to find ways to think of death that will reconcile our relationship with God with thoughts like, "It is God's Will," and we talk of the mystery of death and of God as the giver of release. In the case of suicide, we see it as an escape from the insanity of this world. And with it all, we see death as having the final power, always in control. It takes us hostage, and we are all its captives. "It will never fail to take all life as hostage to itself." (W.163.3.4) We all depend on the thought system of the ego that proves its reality to us by showing us that death is real. And each time we accept the reality of death, we think, once again, that the ego is right, and God is wrong.
Where is God? He certainly does not seem as apparent to us as does death. We see and experience death in a seemingly concrete form and as a constant experience, whereas God seems distant, illusory, and uncertain. Where is the evidence of Him? How do we know of His existence? Jesus says, in our perception, death takes the place of God, and it is to death that we bow down. "Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God's Will for life, the endlessness of love and Heaven's perfect, changeless constancy. Here is the Will of Father and of Son defeated finally, and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God." (W.163. 4.3-4) And with each death, we see the witness to God's defeat. Yet we are the ones who have given power to death because we chose to worship this "idol made of dust." (W.163.4.2) And an idol is just a substitute for God, which is what we have made of the body. It makes death seem stronger than God's Will for life. Thus, God has been declared dead because death has overcome life. To worship death is to worship the ego and see it as having defeated God.
"'Here lies a witness God is dead'"
(W.163.5.3) is the epitaph we write again and again with each death we witness. And don't we all agree, as we kneel down and ". . . whisper fearfully that it is so." (W.163.5.4) We worship this god that has been made by the ego. Each one becomes a witness to the power of death that seems to overpower God and declare the imperfection of Heaven and Love; and it seems we all agree. Even though we may profess a belief in God, our deeper belief is reflected in His defeat as evidenced by our investment in the reality of the body. When we accept that life is all there is, then death, in all its forms, has to be a contradiction. What is true? Is there life or is there death? Unless life is proven not to be true, death cannot be, "For death is total." (W.163.6.2) No compromise can be possible. "Either all things die, or else they live and cannot die." (W.163.6.3) "The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty believing it." (W.163.7.1)
Thus, even though we all share this insanity because we believe in the reality of the body, the idea of a dead God does seem preposterous. The idea there is something that can actually kill God suggests that there 0nce was a God, but now His life has been put out. How could that ever be possible? "For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished; killed, apparently, by those who did not want Him to survive." (W.163.7.2) How does the all powerful and omniscient get obliterated? Is there really a will stronger than God's? Is death the defeat of God? It is our own arrogance that accepts that we are more powerful than God and have obliterated Him. And now it seems we are God. What is true? Is it life, or is it death? Clearly, it can't be both. No compromise is possible here. Where do we stand? Regardless of the answer to this question for each of us, Jesus nevertheless assures us that the myth told by the ego in the story of our seeming separation from God could not happen in truth.
The only thing that has happened is that we have become lost in the dream and thus lost awareness of the truth of who we are as eternal beings. God can't be defeated. Jesus says that even the insane have difficulty believing there is a force that can kill God. We can be released from this cult of death by giving up the false beliefs we hold about ourselves.
Jesus provides us with his clear logic to help set us free from the power of our belief in death. He asks us to question our fear of death by helping us to see that it is illusion, and no illusion can be frightening. We are eternal beings. If God did not make death, it has to all be unreal---all just an illusory belief we hold. "There is no death, and we renounce it now in every form, for their salvation and our own as well." (W.163.8.5) And when we take this stand today by choosing against the ego, we demonstrate the unreality of death. We see past death to life beyond. The Holy Spirit is our Guide to life by inviting us to bring our fearful thoughts to Him.
God did not make death, and He did not make the body; neither did He make any of the forms of death based on our belief in sin, guilt, and fear. We are not what we think we are. We are not bodies, and we cannot die. There is only life. The only reality is joy, peace, love, and unlimited Self. Today we reflect on the Oneness of His love, and we do so by recognizing that separation is an illusion and does not exist. No one is separate from us. No one's interests are separate from our own. Belief in illusion can be undone because it is belief in nothing real. "He [Jesus], offered you a final demonstration that it is impossible to kill God's Son; nor can his life in any way be changed by sin and evil, malice, fear or death." (Clarification of Terms.5.3-5) We remain as God created us.
"Death's worshippers may be afraid. And yet, can thoughts like these be fearful? If they saw that it is only this which they believe, they would be instantly released."
(W.163.8.1-3) Jesus recognizes that we all have fear of dying because we think death means the end of life. Yet he asks us to question these thoughts since they are all illusory. Just because we believe these thoughts does not make them true. When we look at them in light of the logic he presents, we can question the beliefs we hold and bring them to the truth.
Every time we are tempted to see anyone as separate from us and as a body, we ask our Father to bless our eyes so that instead of seeing a body, ". . .we would look upon the glorious reflection of Your Love which shines in everything." (W.163.9.2) This Lesson offers us our first prayer said to Our Father in the workbook. Pray the prayer today and reflect on the many ways death, and all its forms, seems to have reality for you. Recognize today that any negative emotion, any state of illness or frailty, lack of trust, anxiety, or distress of any kind is just a wish to be other than what you are. To ". . .look past death, and see the life beyond" (W.163.8.9) is not to deny that bodies die. The only thing we are asked to do is to question the interpretation we have given to death. When we look at any situation with the Holy Spirit, He gives us an interpretation of death that negates what the ego tells us. He reminds us that death is not the truth because God did not make it.
As I was writing this, a call came in that one of our mighty companions on this journey has just been moved to a hospice and is in her final days. Unbelievably, just as I hung up the phone, another friend called to report a death. I recognize I am being given an opportunity to heal my own beliefs in death in the face of the sadness I feel about the seeming impending death of my friends. Tomas Vieira had asked us constantly, as he was approaching his death, to forgive ourselves for our misperception of his condition. He said that if we saw him as sick, we were not perceiving correctly. Today, we are called to challenge our misperceptions, to look at our fears, and to bring them to the light of truth.
Love and blessings, Sarah
The Purpose of Time
Voice and Music by Martin Weber, CIMS SonShip Radio
III. Time and Eternity
16 The Atonement is
in time but not
for time. Being in you, it is eternal. What holds remembrance of God cannot be bound by time. No more are you. For unless God is bound, you
cannot be. An instant offered to the Holy Spirit is offered to God on your behalf, and in that instant you will awaken gently in Him. In the blessed instant, you will let go all your past learning, and the Holy Spirit will quickly offer you the whole lesson of peace. What can take time, when all the obstacles to learning it have been removed? Truth is so far beyond time that all of it happens at once. For as it was created one, so its oneness depends not on time at all.
17 Do not be concerned with time and fear not the instant of holiness which will remove
all fear. For the instant of peace is eternal
because it is wholly without fear. It
will come, being the lesson God gives you through the Teacher He has appointed to translate time into eternity. Blessed is God's Teacher, Whose joy it is to teach God's holy Son his holiness. His joy is not contained in time. His teaching is for you because His joy is
yours. Through Him you stand before God's altar, where He gently translates hell into Heaven. For it is only in Heaven that God would have you be.
18 How long can it take to be where God would have you? For you
are where you have forever been and will forever be. All that you have, you have forever. The blessed instant reaches out to encompass time, as God extends Himself to encompass you. You who have spent days, hours, and even years in chaining your brothers to your egos in an attempt to support it and uphold its weakness, do not perceive the Source of
strength. In the holy instant, you will unchain
all your brothers and refuse to support either
their weakness or your
19 You do not realize how much you have misused your brothers by seeing them as sources of ego support. As a result, they witness
to the ego in your perception and
seem to provide reasons for not letting it go. Yet they are far stronger and much more compelling witnesses for the Holy Spirit. And they support His
strength. It is, therefore, your choice whether they support the ego or the Holy Spirit in
you. And you will know which you have chosen by
their reactions. A Son of God who has been released through the Holy Spirit in a brother, if the release is
always recognized. He cannot
be denied. As long as you remain uncertain, it can be only because you have not given complete release. And because of this, you have not given one single instant
completely to the Holy Spirit. For when you have, you will be sure you have. You will be
sure because the witness to Him will speak so clearly of Him that you will hear and
20 You will doubt until you hear
one witness whom you have wholly released through the Holy Spirit. And then you will doubt no more. The holy instant has not yet happened to you. Yet it will, and you will recognize it with perfect certainty. No gift of God is recognized in any other way. You can practice the mechanics of the holy instant and will learn much from doing so. Yet its shining and glittering brilliance, which will literally blind you to this world by its own vision, you cannot supply. And here it is,
all in this instant, complete, accomplished, and given
21 Start now to practice your little part in separating out the holy instant. You will receive very specific instructions as you go along. To learn to separate out this single second and begin to experience it as timeless, is to begin to experience yourself as
not separate. Fear not that you will not be given help in this. God's Teacher and His lesson will support your strength. It is only your weakness that will depart from you in this practice, for it is the practice of the power of God in you. Use it but for one instant, and you will never deny it again. Who can deny the Presence of what the universe bows to in appreciation and gladness? Before the recognition of the universe which witnesses to It, your doubts
~ The Original Handscript Notes
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