“This lesson is one of the more important ones in the workbook, as Jesus articulates why we have such difficulty accepting his gifts. In this sense, it is a wonderful summary of one of the most important emphases of ACIM: helping us contrast, and eventually choose between two identities: the ego’s special self we cherish and our true Self as Christ, to which forgiveness gently leads us. One can also see a parallel to “The Gifts of God,” the prose poem Helen took down that contrasts the ego’s gifts with God’s.
We shall see presently that happiness in this world comes from realizing we are not of this world. As long as we believe we are here and there is hope of happiness here, we will not be able to accept God’s gifts. Truth and illusion cannot co-exist.
In order to preserve my identity, therefore, I must deny truth’s presence and God’s gifts. I then gladly suffer my guilt, which proves I am right and God is wrong, since the Atonement says there can be no guilt. Thus my suffering, causing others to identity with it, convincingly proclaims what I am saying is true and the Atonement is false.
The fear I experience in the body is thus a shadow of my mind’s fear, the state of everyone in this world. We exist as bodies to remain far away from home, so far in fact we have forgotten it. We have even forgotten Who we are, choosing the ego’s substitute identity of specialness instead.
These gifts are buried in the mind, covered with our wrong-minded guilt, and covered still further by the body’s pain and suffering. The body thus conceals the mind’s guilt, which in turn conceals God’s gifts in our right mind.
“Therefore, you have used the world to cover your love, and the deeper you go into the blackness of the ego’s foundation, the closer you come to the Love that is hidden there. And it is this that frightens you.” (T-13.III.4:5).
We seek to change things in the world, but by not addressing the cause in the mind, we ensure that nothing will change.
This is not a course in how to be happy here, for its purpose is to make us happy by realizing we are not here. Only such realization will lead to happiness and joy. Without it we but settle for specialness instead of real love.
It is imperative as you work with this course you cannot return home unless you first see the home you made for what it is. Thus you must realize how bitterly unhappy you are here, identified as a body, before you can meaningfully make a choice and ask with desire for help, as we saw in the previous lesson.
PLEASE NOTE NOW KEN’S THOUGHTS ON BEING A VICTIM:
Jesus is telling us not to feel sorry for the victim, for how can someone’s tragic circumstances be tragic if the person chose it? Not to understand this is to fall into the trap of false empathy that Jesus warns us about in the text. (T-16.I). People’s lives are not tragic, for they are their dreams. Therefore, whom can I blame for a life filled with tragedy and pain? Not my parents, the world, or God. It is my dream and I am its dreamer, following the way my mind has chosen. It is this choice that is tragic, not the form it has taken – my choosing to be the innocent victim and another the sinful victimizer whom God will punish instead of me. To be happy, however, I need only realize that the Love of God, through the Holy Spirit, walks with me all the time – not in form or body, but in my mind.
Jesus places the burden solely on us, making it clear he can help us only if we truly ask him, which we refuse to do as long as we cherish this “tragic” self, and, above all, our justified grievance that someone else did this to us. Our special relationships – the substitutes for Heaven’s Love – thus become the focus on the Holy Spirit’s correction.
Reason, evidence, and the witnesses are represented by this course, or those who carry within them the light of Christ we could see instead of the ego’s darkness.
Where Jesus says, “You heed them not”, paragraph 7, sentence 3, Ken writes:
We pay no attention, but savagely defend our self against anything that would threaten it. That is what most people tend to do with this course, somehow maneuvering to bring it into their individual dreams so it ends up saying what they want it to say, in order to promote their happiness within the dream. They thus ignore and deny all witness – ACIM’s own words – that would show them they are wrong.
If I accept Christ’s gifts, how can I justifiably say I am a poor, innocent victim? Yet that is exactly why I was born – so I could say with full justification I am this victim. Thus it is that the true touch of Christ upon me – the reflection of reality – becomes a great threat.
Yet joining with Christ’s vision in the holy instant, looking back on the dream’s “heavy consequences”, we smile at the belief that this thought system of sin – a “trifling cause” – could even have taken the place of God’s Love.
The source of our difficulty with ACIM is that it brooks no compromise, as we see in this infuriatingly simple statement: “It is not so.”
He (Jesus) reminds us that things are not as they appear to be: “Your pain,” he says, “does not come from outside, but from your mind’s fearful decision to oppose me because I represent the truth, in the presence of which your false self would disappear.” That is the background of his gentle words: “It is not so.”
Jesus shifts his focus to the principle of shared interests as he reminds us God’s gifts are not our own, but everyone’s. Remember, the ego is held in place by the belief our interests are separate – one or the other: my happiness comes at your expense. Yet if I punish you by projecting my guilt, I give that same “gift” to myself. However, if I truly want to know God’s Love, I must realize it is not mine and mine alone. If I withhold it from you, I withhold it from me.
In the holy instant I am sane, realizing I made a wrong choice that I undo by choosing the Holy Spirit as my Teacher. When I am more sane than those around me, my responsibility is to reflect to them my choice for vision – not by my words or actions, but by identifying with the loving and peaceful Presence that abides within me.
Jesus is not saying your mistaken thoughts – tears, sighs, and illnesses – will hold people in hell, but it will in your mind. You are not responsible for the choices of others, any more than Jesus was.
If you believe your ego hurts others, you are reinforcing their wrong choice. Yet you are not responsible for it. However, you do tell them: “You are an ego and you are right; I am an ego and I am right, too.” Such insanity can only hurt the Sonship as one.
Thus Jesus asks: Become the living proof of the effects of choosing Christ’s vision. Through the peace that comes, you become a teacher of peace.
I see how special relationships are insane. I think of how many adjustments I have made to assure those bonds are intact.
How much time and energy it takes to keep them going?
How insane I have been to even want them…in any form?
Sure, I will struggle. I will falter. I will forget. I will get scared.
But, truly wanting the Holy Spirit to transform them into holy ones in where I am now.
And being resolute about it too.
Determined to no longer listen to the ego “demanding” that I worry if one appears to be threatened because it is IT that is threatened and then IT becomes retaliative and vicious.
I will close with an excerpt from “The Gifts of God” which Ken shared:
The gifts of God are in my hands, to give to anyone who would exchange the world for Heaven. You need only call my name and ask me to accept the gift of pain from willing hands that would be laid in mind, with thorns laid down and nails long thrown away as one by one the sorry gifts of earth are joyously relinquished. In my hands is everything you want and need and hoped to find among the shabby toys of earth. I take them all from you and they are gone. And shining in the place where once they stood there is a gateway to another world through which we enter in the Name of God (The Gifts of God, pp. 118-119).
Count me in as one who is ready to exchange the world for Heaven, albeit hesitatingly!
Have a lovely day!