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A COURSE IN MIRACLES
CH 16 THE FORGIVENESS OF ILLUSIONS
VI. SPECIALNESS AND GUILT
47 To everyone Heaven is completion. There can be no disagreement on this because both the ego and the Holy Spirit accept it. They are, however, in complete disagreement on what completion is and how it is accomplished. The Holy Spirit knows that completion lies first in union and then in the extension of union. To the ego, completion lies in triumph and in the extension of the "victory" even to the final triumph over God. In this it sees the ultimate freedom of the self, for nothing would remain to interfere with it. This is its idea of Heaven. From this it follows that union, which is a condition in which the ego cannot interfere, must be hell.
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WORKBOOK Part I
Our next few lessons make a special point of firming up your willingness to make your weak commitment strong, your scattered goals blend into one intent. You are not asked for total dedication all the time, as yet. But you are asked to practice now in order to attain the sense of peace such unified commitment will bestow, if only intermittently. It is experiencing this which makes it sure that you will give your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth.
2 Our lessons now are geared specifically to widening horizons and direct approaches to the special blocks which keep your vision narrow and too limited to let you see the value of our goal. We are attempting now to lift these blocks, however briefly. Words alone can not convey the sense of liberation which their lifting brings. But the experience of freedom and of peace that comes as you give up your tight control of what you see speaks for itself. Your motivation will be so intensified that words become of little consequence. You will be sure of what you want and what is valueless.
3 And so we start our journey beyond words by concentrating first on what impedes our progress still. Experience of what exists beyond defensiveness remains beyond achievement while it is denied. It may be there, but you cannot accept its presence. So we now attempt to go past all defenses for a little while each day. No more than this is asked because no more than this is needed. It will be enough to guarantee the rest will come.
L e s s o n 183
I call upon God's Name and on my own.
Voice and Music by CIMS SonShip Radio
God's Name is holy, but no holier
than yours. To call upon His Name is but
to call upon your own. A father gives
his son his name, and thus identifies
the son with him. His brothers share his name,
and thus are they united in a bond
to which they turn for their identity.
Your Father's Name reminds you who you are
even within a world which does not know;
even though you have not remembered it.
God's Name can not be heard without response,
nor said without an echo in the mind
which calls you to remember. Say His Name,
and you invite the angels to surround
the ground on which you stand, and sing to you
as they spread out their wings to keep you safe,
and shelter you from every worldly thought
that would intrude upon your holiness.
Repeat God's Name, and all the world responds
by laying down illusions. Every dream
the world holds dear has suddenly gone by,
and where it seemed to stand you find a star;
a miracle of grace. The sick arise,
healed of their sickly thoughts. The blind can see;
the deaf can hear. The sorrowful cast off
their mourning, and the tears of pain are dried
as happy laughter comes to bless the world.
Repeat the Name of God, and little names
have lost their meaning. No temptation but
becomes a nameless and unwanted thing
before God's Name. Repeat His Name and see
how easily you will forget the names
of all the gods you valued. They have lost
the name of god you gave them. They become
anonymous and valueless to you,
although before you let the Name of God
replace their little names, you stood before
them worshipfully, naming them as gods.
Repeat the Name of God and call upon
your Self, Whose Name is His. Repeat His Name,
and all the tiny, nameless things on earth
slip into right perspective. Those who call
upon the Name of God can not mistake
the nameless for the Name, nor sin for grace,
nor bodies for the holy Son of God.
And should you join a brother as you sit
with him in silence, and repeat God's Name
along with him within your quiet minds,
you have established there an altar which
reaches to God Himself, and to His Son.
Practice but this today; repeat God's Name
slowly again and still again. Become
oblivious of every name but His.
Hear nothing else. Let all your thoughts become
anchored on This. No other words we use
except at the beginning, when we say
today's idea but once. And then God's Name
becomes our only thought, our only word,
the only thing that occupies our minds,
the only wish we have, the only sound
with any meaning, and the only name
of everything that we desire to see;
of everything that we would call our own.
Thus do you give an invitation which
could never be refused. And God will come,
and answer it Himself. Think not He hears
the little prayers of those who call on Him
with names of idols cherished by the world.
They cannot reach Him thus. He cannot hear
requests that He be not Himself, or that
His Son receive another name than His.
Repeat His Name and you acknowledge Him
as sole Creator of reality.
And you acknowledge also that His Son
is part of Him, creating in His Name.
Sit silently and let His Name become
the all-encompassing idea which holds
your mind completely. Let all thoughts be still
except this One. And to all other thoughts
respond with This, and watch God's Name replace
the thousand little names you gave your thoughts,
not realizing that there is One Name
for all there is and all that there will be.
You can achieve today a state in which
you will experience the gifts of grace.
You can escape all bondage of the world,
and give the world the same release you found.
You can remember what the world forgot,
and offer it your own remembering.
You can accept today the part you play
in its salvation, and your own as well,
and both can be accomplished perfectly.
Turn to the Name of God for your release,
and it is given you. No prayer but this
is necessary, for it holds them all
within it. Words are insignificant
and all requests unneeded when God's Son
calls on his Father's Name. His Father's Thoughts
become his own. He makes his claim to all
his Father gave, is giving still, and will
forever give. He calls on Him to let
all things he thought he made be nameless now,
and in their place the holy Name of God
becomes his judgment of their worthlessness.
All little things are silent. Little sounds
are soundless now. The little things of earth
have disappeared. The universe consists
of nothing but the Son of God, who calls
upon his Father. And his Father's Voice
gives answer in his Father's holy Name.
In this eternal, still relationship
in which communication far transcends
all words, and yet exceeds in depth and height
whatever words could possibly convey,
is peace eternal. In our Father's Name,
we would experience this peace today.
And in His Name it shall be given us.
~ The Original Handscript Notes
ACIM Edmonton - Sarah's Reflections
I call upon God's Name and on my own
I spent the year 2000 in Sedona where I studied the Course at the Circle of Atonement with Robert Perry. While I was there, Robert took some time off to go to a Catholic retreat center. When he returned, he spoke about his time at the retreat with this Lesson. It was very helpful to hear of his experience, as it allowed me to get a deeper appreciation of the message contained in this Lesson. Prior to this, I must admit, this Lesson did not really grab me. As I was repeating the name of God over and over, as instructed to ". . . repeat God's Name slowly again and still again," (W.183.6.1) it felt empty and ritualistic. It never elicited much in the way of a connection and seemed more like a mantra or magical incantation. Now I have come to see that by calling on God's Name, I am being called to detach from listening to the ego and to shift from the specifics of this world, where we name everything, and to realize God's Love is all there is and the only thing I want. Everything in this world is named and thus it is separate and different from everything else. We give value to these things we name, but as we call on God's Love, ". . . little names have lost their meaning." (W.183.4.1)
When Robert returned from his retreat, he talked about the similarity of this Lesson with the centering prayer, which is described in a written work called The Cloud of Unknowing. It is an ancient prayer practice, which comes from a contemplative heritage of the Catholic church. It is a method of prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of God's presence by quieting our minds.
The book speaks about the soul's attainment of the Absolute, but it is contingent on one central necessity: The perfect and passionate setting of the will upon the Divine, since "Thy love and thy meaning, the choice and point of thine heart," and "that intent stretching to God," which "if wholly set on Him, cannot fail to reach its goal."I love that!This book goes on to describe the motivation for God as"the sharp dart of longing love." It speaks of the happiness of those who have had the experience of this love.
There is a recognition by this author as well, of the struggle with distracting thoughts and the confusion and bewilderment of the beginner in the early stages of contemplation. He also talks about the importance of recognizing the futility of study, in a theoretical way without the benefit of release by grace. There is much that is beautiful in this writing. It speaks of the one necessity to connect with God, which is all about the will and the heart, rather than a focus on ascetic practices or intellectual striving. It is more about actively loving and choosing to apply the teachings in one's life. It is the synthesis of "love and will" seen as essential in order to achieve the goal of peace. "For silence is not God," he says in the Epistle of Discretion, "nor speaking is not God; fasting is not God, nor eating is not God; loneliness is not God, nor company is not God; nor yet any of all the other two such contraries. He is hid between them, and may not be found by any work of thy soul, but only by love of thine heart. He may not be known by reason, He may not be gotten by thought, nor concluded by understanding; but He may be loved and chosen with the true lovely will of thine heart."
We traditionally think of prayer as an active process of mentally or verbally communicating with God, whereas this form of centering prayer is one of receptivity or resting in God. It is opening up our minds and hearts-our whole being, to God, beyond thoughts, words and emotions.
In this Lesson, we are calling upon the truth in our right minds. The Holy Spirit reflects that truth. Calling on the truth requires detachment from the thought system of the ego mind. (wrong mind). I choose to identify with God's Name, so I can know I am God's Son and not the son of the ego. The way to this recognition is to look at our thoughts, be willing to see our way of seeing everything as wrong, and be willing to use the events and circumstances of this world as a classroom for undoing the thought system of the ego. Calling upon God's name is a symbol of the Correction (Atonement) of how we currently see. It is to recognize we are wrong about how we perceive everything. Jesus invites us to "Remember nothing that you taught yourself, for you were badly taught." (T.28.I.7.1)(ACIM OE T.7.II.7)
This requires a willingness to become aware of my current thinking, so I can choose against the voice of the ego. I do this by not attending to it because it keeps me invested in the world. This was so clearly illustrated in a movie I watched recently called Shutter Island, where I was drawn into determining who was right and who was wrong, only to be shown all my perceptions were wrong. In the process of watching this movie, the Holy Spirit showed me how I was taken in by a convincing set-up, reflecting the insanity of the ego. The movie illustrated how we are absolutely certain of our perceptions, set up by the ego to convince us this world is real. The apparatus for seeing and hearing are the ego's tools for bringing evidence to us that convinces us of the reality of this world. The thought system of the ego is insane, but it is as consistent and logical as that of the Holy Spirit.
"The ingeniousness of the ego to preserve itself is enormous, but it stems from the very power of the mind the ego denies. This means that the ego attacks what is preserving it, which must result in extreme anxiety. That is why the ego never recognizes what it is doing. It is perfectly logical but clearly insane."
(T.7.VI.3.1-4) (ACIM OE T.7.VII.56)
This Lesson starts with the idea we are actually calling upon our own true identity when we call on God's Name. While we are One with Him, He is the Cause and the Source. We share His name, not because we are Him, but because He is our Creator, and we share His nature. He has given us His Name, just as a father gives his name to his son. Thus, we have a deep abiding bond with Him. In this deep connection with the divine within, we are reminded we are not these characters in the dream, which we know ourselves to be with our given names. "Your Father's Name reminds you who you are, even within a world that does not know; even though you have not remembered it." (W.183.1.5) When we say His Name, an echo is heard in the mind, and this calls us to remember who we really are. "God's Name can not be heard without response, nor said without an echo in the mind that calls you to remember. " (W.183.2.1) We are called to remember our true identity in that deep communion with the Christ Self within.
The Atonement Principle is our assurance we have never changed ourselves. To be aware of the changeless Self requires deep desire and devotion to the truth. We are magnificent beings of light and love. This awareness brings recognition of the immense power that protects us wherein the angels are invited to ". . . surround the ground on which you stand, and sing to you as they spread out their wings to keep you safe, and shelter you from every worldly thought that would intrude upon your holiness." (W.183.2.2) We are releasing our worldly thoughts, which are the idols we hold up as our gods. They are the things of this world we put value on, but they are actually valueless and deliver nothing. When we enter into deep communion with God it brings healing to the sick and lifts the suffering of the world. That is quite a premise and points to the ministry we have in the world simply by remembering who we are.
This power is enhanced when we join with a brother. "And should you join a brother as you sit with him in silence, and repeat God's Name along with him within your quiet mind, you have established there an altar which reaches to God Himself and to His Son." (W.183.5.4) We can only truly join with a brother when we release our judgments and recognize the Christ in him. This does not mean we literally sit together and repeat God's Name. What is symbolized here is the Oneness we share with everyone, where we join in truth when we let go of the needs and judgments inherent in our special relationships. "If you unite with anyone in prayer, you make him part of you." (S.1.II.6.2)
"You have taught yourself to believe that you are not what you are."
(T.6.III.1.8)(ACIM OE T.6.IV.40) This demonstrates the immense power of our minds since we have taught ourselves that we are something we are not. It is about recognizing that, ultimately, in undoing what we have taught ourselves, we will see there is no room for the separate me, for my individual identity, nor separation from my brother. We are all one Son, in the unity of the family of God.
In our invitation to God, Jesus tells us "God will come, and answer it Himself." (W.183.7.2) Then he says, "Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus. He cannot hear requests that He be not Himself, or that His Son receive another name than His." (W.183.7.3-5) How are we to understand this? Does God answer our prayers, or does He really not hear our prayers? In order to get more clarity on this question, I turned to The Song of Prayer, which accompanies the Course. Jesus explains there are different levels of prayer, depending on which rung of the ladder back to the Self we are on. On the beginning rungs, we ask for things we think we need. These requests come from our belief that we are in the world and are in a state of need and lack. "To you who are in time a little while, prayer takes the form that best will suit your need." (Song of Prayer-1.IN.2.1) "At these levels prayer is merely wanting, out of a sense of scarcity and lack." (S-1.II.1.5) "These forms of prayer, or asking-out-of-need, always involve feelings of weakness and inadequacy, and could never be made by a Son of God who knows Who he is." (S-1.II.2.1) Do these prayers get answered? Apparently they do, but only as long as they do not set us back on our journey.
When we request that the idols of the world make us happy, we are making meaningless things into gods. Yet to ask for what we think we need is not wrong. It is just that this will not advance our journey to God because getting what we want in the illusion will tempt us to stay asleep. Any answer we get to our prayers comes from the Holy Spirit in our minds, as God does not know of our dream. Asking for specifics comes from our belief we are bodies living in the world. When we progress in our journey, our prayer becomes less specific. "It is possible at this level to continue to ask for things of this world in various forms, and it is also possible to ask for gifts such as honesty or goodness, and particularly for forgiveness for the many sources of guilt that inevitably underlie any prayer of need." (S.1.II.3.4) Until we reach the higher levels of the ladder, "Prayer now must be the means by which God's Son leaves separate goals and separate interests by, and turns in holy gladness to the truth of union in his Father and himself." (S.1.IN.2.4)
Thus, our goal is to ". . . escape all bondage of the world and give the world the same release you found." (W.183.9.2) We are refocusing the mind away from what intrudes on it when we focus on God's Name. What intrudes on our minds are the things we think we want that do not serve our best interests. What we think we need are meaningless idols of the world that we believe will make us happy. They include our goals and plans, money, food, prestige, power, sex, cars, and special relationships. Everything we value in the world is essentially valueless. "In true prayer you hear only the song." (S.1.I.3.4) It is ". . . a giving up of oneself to be at one with Love." (S.1.I.5.5) "The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need." (S.1.I.4.1) "Prayer is a stepping aside; a letting go, a quiet time of listening and loving." (S.1.I.5.1) "This is not a level of prayer that everyone can attain as yet." (S.1.I.6.1)
Today, we are invited to experience the peace of God. "Turn to the Name of God for your release, and it is given you. No prayer but this is necessary, for it holds them all within it." (W.183.10.1-2) All that is real is in our relationship with our Father. Now we come to know eternal peace, if only for a moment, as we enter the holy instant. "And in His Name, it shall be given us." (W.183.11.8) In the holy instant, all is quiet and still, and our holy minds can rest in the presence of the eternal! Here, in this relationship ". . . in which communication far transcends all words and yet exceeds in depth and height whatever words could possibly convey, is peace eternal." (W.183.11.6)
Today, we focus on becoming ". . . oblivious to every name but His. Hear nothing else. Let all your thoughts become anchored on This. No other word we use except at the beginning, when we say today's idea but once." (W.183.6.2-5) When we return to the world, we will remember what the world forgot. It takes strength to be in the world but not of the world; yet we are called to be the example of peace so others may see this is the same choice they can make. Our part is to offer forgiveness in every situation. That is what he invites us to do when he says, "It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well." (W.184.9.1-3)
Only love is real. Everything else is just part of the dream, broken into small parts with different names. "In this eternal still relationship in which communication far transcends all words, and yet exceeds in depth and height whatever words could possibly convey is peace eternal." So let us join in the experience of this peace today, as much as possible, and trust it will be given us, as we lay aside our own ideas.
PAUSED FOR WEEKEND
VI. Specialness and Guilt
43 In looking at the special relationship, it is necessary first to realize that it involves a great amount of pain. Anxiety, despair, guilt, and attack all enter into it, broken into by periods in which they
seem to be gone. All these must be understood for what they are. Whatever form they take, they are always an attack on the self to make the
other guilty. We have spoken of this before, but there are some aspects of what is really being attempted that we have not touched upon.
44 Very simply, the attempt to make guilty is
always directed against God. For the ego would have you see Him, and Him
alone, as guilty, leaving the Sonship open to attack and unprotected from it. The special love relationship is the ego's chief weapon for keeping you from Heaven. It does not
appear to be a weapon, but if you consider
how you value it and
why, you will realize what it must be. The special love relationship is the ego's most boasted gift, and one which has the most appeal to those unwilling to relinquish guilt. The "dynamics" of the ego are clearest here, for counting on the attraction of this offering, the fantasies which center around it are often quite open. Here they are usually judged to be acceptable and even natural. No one considers it bizarre to love and hate together, and even those who believe that hate is sin merely feel guilty and do not correct it.
is the "natural" condition of the separation, and those who learn that it is not natural at all seem to be the
unnatural ones. For this world
is the opposite of Heaven, being
made to be its opposite, and everything here takes a direction exactly opposite of what is true. In Heaven, where the meaning of love is known, love is the same as
union. Here, where the illusion of love is accepted in love's place, love is perceived as separation and
46 It is in the special relationship, born of the hidden wish for special love from God, that the ego's hatred triumphs. For the special relationship is the
renunciation of the love of God and the attempt to secure for the self the specialness which He denied. It is essential to the preservation of the ego that you believe this specialness is not hell, but Heaven. For the ego would never have you see that separation can
only be loss, being the one condition in which Heaven
47 To everyone Heaven is completion. There can be no disagreement on this because both the ego and the Holy Spirit accept it. They are, however, in
complete disagreement on what completion
how it is accomplished. The Holy Spirit knows that completion lies first in union and then in the extension of union. To the ego, completion lies in triumph and in the extension of the "victory" even to the final triumph over God. In this it sees the ultimate freedom of the self, for nothing would remain to interfere with
is its idea of Heaven. From this it follows that union, which is a condition in which the ego
must be hell.
48 The special relationship is a strange and unnatural ego device for joining hell and Heaven and making them indistinguishable. And the attempt to find the imagined "best" of both worlds has merely led to fantasies of both and to the inability to perceive either one as it is. The special relationship is the triumph of this confusion. It is a kind of union from which union is
excluded, and the basis for the
attempt at union rests on exclusion. What better example could there be of the ego's maxim, "Seek but do not find?"
49 Most curious of all is the concept of the self which the ego fosters in the special relationship. This "self" seeks the relationship to make itself complete. Yet when it
finds the special relationship in which it thinks it can accomplish this, it gives itself
away and tries to "trade" itself for the self of another. This is not union, for there is no increase and no extension. Each partner tries to sacrifice the self he does not want for one he thinks he would prefer. And he feels guilty for the "sin" of taking and of giving nothing of value in return. For how much value
can he place upon a self that he would give away to get a better one?
50 The "better" self the ego seeks is always one that is
more special. And whoever seems to possess a special self is "loved" for what can be taken
from him. Where both partners see this special self in each other, the ego sees "a union made in Heaven." For neither one will recognize that he has asked for hell, and so he will not interfere with the ego's illusion of Heaven, which it offered him to
interfere with Heaven. Yet if all illusions are of fear, and they
can be of nothing else, the illusion of Heaven is nothing more than an "attractive" form of fear in which the guilt is buried deep and rises in the form of "love."
51 The appeal of hell lies only in the terrible attraction of guilt, which the ego holds out to those who place their faith in littleness. The conviction of littleness lies in
every special relationship, for only the deprived could
value specialness. The demand for specialness and the perception of the giving of specialness as an act of love would make love
hateful. And the real purpose of the special relationship, in strict accordance with the ego's goals, is to destroy reality and substitute illusion. For the ego is
itself an illusion, and only illusions
can be the witnesses to its "reality."
52 If you perceived the special relationship as a triumph over God, would you
want it? Let us not think of its fearful nature nor of the guilt it must entail nor of the sadness and the loneliness. For these are only attributes of the whole religion of the separation and of the total context in which it is thought to occur. The central theme in its litany to sacrifice is that God must die so
you can live. And it is this theme which is acted out in the special relationship. Through the death of
your self, you think you can attack another self and snatch it from the other to replace the self which you despise. And you despise it because you do not think it offers the specialness which you demand. And
hating it, you have made it little and unworthy because you are
afraid of it.
53 How can you grant unlimited power to what you think you have attacked? So fearful has the truth become to you that
unless it is weak and little, [and unworthy of value,] you would not dare to look upon it. You think it safer to endow the little self which you have made with power you
wrested from truth, triumphing over it and leaving it helpless. See how
exactly is this ritual enacted in the special relationship. An altar is erected in between two separate people on which each seeks to kill his self and on his body raise another self which takes its power from his death. Over and over and over this ritual is enacted. And it is
never completed nor ever
will be completed. For the ritual of completion
cannot complete, and life arises not from death, nor Heaven from hell.
54 Whenever any form of special relationship tempts you to seek for love in ritual, remember love is
content and not form of
any kind. The special relationship is a
ritual of form, aimed at the raising of the form to take the place of God at the
expense of content. There
is no meaning in the form, and there will never be. The special relationship must be recognized for what it is-a senseless ritual in which strength is extracted from the death of God and invested in His killer as the sign that form has triumphed over content and love has lost its meaning. Would you
want this to be possible, even apart from its evident impossibility? For if it
were possible, you would have made
yourself helpless. God is not angry. He merely could not let this happen. You
cannot change His Mind.
55 No rituals that you have set up in which the dance of death delights you can bring death to the eternal. Nor can your chosen substitute for the wholeness of God have any influence at all upon it. See in the special relationship nothing more than a meaningless attempt to raise other gods before Him and by worshiping them to obscure
their tininess and His
greatness. In the name of your completion, you do not
want this. For every idol which you raise to place before Him stands before
you in place of what you
56 Salvation lies in the simple fact that illusions are not fearful because they are not
true. They but seem to be fearful to the extent to which you fail to recognize them for what they are, and you
will fail to do this to the extent to which you
want them to be true. And to the same extent you are
denying truth, and so are making yourself unable to make the simple choice between truth and illusion, God and fantasy. Remember this and you will have no difficulty in perceiving the decision as just what it
is and nothing more.
57 The core of the separation delusion lies simply in the
fantasy of destruction of love's meaning. And unless love's meaning is
restored to you, you cannot know yourself, who
shares its meaning. Separation is only the decision
not to know yourself. Its whole thought system is a carefully contrived learning experience designed to lead
away from truth and into fantasy. Yet for every learning that would hurt you, God offers you correction and complete escape from
all its consequences. The decision whether or not to listen to this course and follow it is but the choice between truth and illusion. For here is truth
separated from illusion and not confused with it at all.
58 How simple does this choice become when it is perceived as only what it is. For
only fantasies made confusion in choosing possible, and they are totally unreal. This year is thus the time to make the easiest decision that ever confronted you and also the
only one. You will cross the bridge into reality simply because you will recognize that God is on the other side and nothing
at all is here. It is impossible
not to make the natural decision as this is realized.
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