A Course in Miracles

Chapter 17 - Forgiveness and Healing

Perception & Two Worlds or Two Pictures

God established His relationship with you "to make you happy," and nothing you do which does not share His purpose can be real.

The purpose God ascribed to anything is its only function. Because of His reason for creating His relationship with you, the function of relationships became forever "to make happy." And nothing else. To fulfill this function, you relate to your creations as God to His. For nothing God created is apart from happiness, and nothing God created but would extend happiness as its Creator did. Whatever fulfills this function not cannot be real.

In this world it is impossible to create, yet it is possible to make happy.

We have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships but would transform them. And by that all that is meant is that He will restore to them the function given them by God. The function you have given them is clearly not to make happy. But the holy relationship shares God's purpose, rather than aiming to make a substitute for it. Every special relationship which you have made is a substitute for God's Will and glorifies yours instead of His because of the delusion that they are different.

You have made very real relationships even in this world which you do not recognize simply because you have raised their substitutes to such predominance that when truth calls to you, as it does constantly, you answer with a substitute. Every special relationship which you have ever undertaken has as its fundamental purpose the aim of occupying your minds so completely that you will not hear the call of truth. In a sense the special relationship was the ego's answer to the creation of the Holy Spirit, Who was God's answer to the separation. For although the ego did not understand what had been created, it was aware of threat.

The whole defense system—which the ego evolved to protect the separation from the Holy Spirit—was in response to the gift with which God blessed it and by His blessing enabled it (the separation) to be healed. This blessing holds within itself the truth about everything. And the truth is that the Holy Spirit is in close relationship with you because in Him is your relationship with God restored to you. The relationship with Him has never been broken because the Holy Spirit has not been separate from anyone since the separation. And through Him have all your holy relationships been carefully preserved to serve God's purpose for you.

The Ego Is Insane

The ego is hyperalert to threat, and the part of your mind into which the ego was accepted is very anxious to preserve its reason as it sees it. It does not realize that it is totally insane. And you must realize just what this means if you would be restored to sanity. The insane protect their thought systems, but they do so insanely. And all their defenses are as insane as what they are supposed to protect. The separation has nothing in it, no part, no "reason," and no attribute that is not insane. And its "protection" is part of it, as insane as the whole.

The special relationship, which is its (the separation's) chief defense, must therefore be insane.

You have but little difficulty now in realizing that the thought system which the special relationship protects is but a system of delusions. You recognize, at least in general terms, that the ego is insane. Yet the special relationship still seems to you somehow to be "different." Yet we have looked at it far closer than at many other aspects of the ego's thought system which you have been more willing to let go. While this one remains, you will not let the others go. For this one is not different. Retain this one, and you have retained the whole.

It is essential to realize that all defenses do what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend. What they defend is placed in them for safekeeping, and as they operate, they bring it to you. Every defense operates by giving gifts, and the gift is always a miniature of the thought system the defense protects, set in a golden frame. The frame is very elaborate, all set with jewels and deeply carved and polished. Its purpose is to be of value in itself and to divert your attention from what it encloses. But the frame without the picture you cannot have. Defenses operate to make you think you can.

The Two Pictures

The special relationship has the most imposing and deceptive frame of all the defenses the ego uses. Its thought system is offered here, surrounded by a frame so heavy and so elaborate that the picture is almost obliterated by its imposing structure. Into the frame are woven all sorts of fanciful and fragmented illusions of love, set with dreams of sacrifice and self-aggrandizement and interlaced with gilded threads of self-destruction. The glitter of blood shines like rubies, and the tears are faceted like diamonds and gleam in the dim light in which the offering is made.

Look at the picture. Do not let the frame distract you. This gift is given you for your damnation, and if you take it, you will believe that you are damned.

You cannot have the frame without the picture. What you value is the frame, for there you see no conflict. Yet the frame is only the wrapping for the gift of conflict. The frame is not the gift. Be not deceived by the most superficial aspects of this thought system, for these aspects enclose the whole, complete in every aspect. Death lies in this glittering gift. Let not your gaze dwell on the hypnotic gleaming of the frame.

Look at the picture, and realize that death is offered you.

That is why the holy instant is so important in the defense of truth. The truth itself needs no defense, but you do need defense against your own acceptance of the gift of death. When you who are truth accept an idea so dangerous to truth, you threaten truth with destruction. And your defense must now be undertaken to keep truth whole. The power of Heaven, the love of God, the tears of Christ, and the joy of His eternal Spirit are marshaled to defend you from your own attack. For you attack Them, being part of Them, and They must save you, for They love Themselves.

The holy instant is a miniature of Heaven, sent you from Heaven.

It is a picture, too, set in a frame. Yet if you accept this gift, you will not see the frame at all because the gift can only be accepted through your willingness to focus all your attention on the picture. The holy instant is a miniature of eternity. It is a picture of timelessness, set in a frame of time. If you focus on the picture, you will realize that it was only the frame that made you think it was a picture. Without the frame, the picture is seen as what it represents. For as the whole thought system of the ego lies in its gifts, so the whole of Heaven lies in this instant, borrowed from eternity and set in time for you.

Two gifts are offered you. Each is complete and cannot be partially accepted. Each is a picture of all that you can have, seen very differently. You cannot compare their value by comparing a picture to a frame. It must be the pictures only that you compare, or the comparison is wholly without meaning. Remember that it is the picture that is the gift. And only on this basis are you really free to choose. Look at the pictures. Both of them. One is a tiny picture, hard to see at all beneath the heavy shadows of its enormous and disproportionate enclosure. The other is lightly framed and hung in light, lovely to look upon for what it is.

You who have tried so hard and are still trying to fit the better picture into the wrong frame and so combine what cannot be combined, accept this and be glad: these pictures are each framed perfectly for what they represent. One is framed to be out of focus and not seen. The other is framed for perfect clarity. The picture of darkness and of death grows less convincing as

The picture of darkness and death grows less convincing as you search it out amid its wrappings. As each senseless stone which seems to shine in darkness from the frame is exposed to light, it becomes dull and lifeless and ceases to distract you from the picture. And finally you look upon the picture itself, seeing at last that, unprotected by the frame, it has no meaning.

The other picture is lightly framed, for time cannot contain eternity. There is no distraction here.

The picture of Heaven and eternity grows more convincing as you look at it. And now by real comparison a transformation of both pictures can at last occur. And each is given its rightful place, when both are seen in relation to each other. The dark picture brought to light is not perceived as fearful, but the fact that it is just a picture is brought home at last. And what you see there, you will recognize as what it is—a picture of what you thought was real and nothing more. For beyond this picture, you will see nothing.

The picture of light, in clear cut and unmistakable contrast, is transformed into what lies beyond the picture. As you look on this, you realize that it is not a picture but a reality. This is no figured representation of a thought system, but the Thought Itself. What it represents is there. The frame fades gently, and God rises to your remembrance, offering you the whole of creation in exchange for your little picture, wholly without value and entirely deprived of meaning.

As God ascends into His rightful place and you to yours, you will experience again the meaning of relationship and know it to be true. Let us ascend in peace together to the Father by giving Him ascendance in our minds. We will gain everything by giving Him the power and the glory and keeping no illusions of where they are. They are in us through His ascendance. What He has given is His. It shines in every part of Him as in the whole. The whole reality of your relationship with Him lies in our relationship to one another.

The holy instant shines alike on all relationships, for in it they are one. For here is only healing, already complete and perfect. For here is God, and where He is, only the perfect and complete can be.

 

 

This Edit of A Course in Miracles is the original transcript as dictated to Helen Schucman and edited in collaboration with Bill Thetford.

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Every special relationship which you have ever undertaken has, as its fundamental purpose, the aim of occupying your minds so completely that you will not hear the call of truth.

 

 

A Course in Miracles

Chapter 17 - Forgiveness and Healing

The Healed Relationship

The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world. Like everything about salvation, the holy instant is a practical device, witnessed to by its results. The holy instant never fails. The experience of it is always felt. Yet without expression, it is not remembered. The holy relationship is a constant reminder of the experience in which the relationship became what it is. And as the unholy relationship is a continuing hymn of hate in praise of its maker, so is the holy relationship a happy song of praise to the Redeemer of relationships.

The holy relationship, a major step toward the perception of the real world, is learned. It is the old unholy relationship transformed and seen anew.

The holy relationship is a phenomenal teaching accomplishment. In all its aspects, as it begins, develops, and becomes accomplished, it represents the reversal of the unholy relationship. Be comforted in thisthe only difficult phase is the beginning. For here, the goal of the relationship is abruptly shifted to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit to use for His purposes.

This invitation is accepted immediately, and the Holy Spirit wastes no time in introducing the practical results of asking Him to enter. At once His goal replaces yours. This is accomplished very rapidly, but it makes the relationship seem disturbed, disjunctive, and even quite distressing. The reason is quite clear. For the relationship as it is is out of line with its own goal, and clearly unsuited to the purpose which has been accepted for it. In its unholy condition, your goal was all that seemed to give it meaning. Now it seems to make no sense. Many relationships have been broken off at this point, and the pursuit of the old goal reestablished in another relationship. For once the unholy relationship has accepted the goal of holiness, it can never again be what it was.

The temptation of the ego becomes extremely intense with this shift in goals. For the relationship has not as yet been changed sufficiently to make its former goal completely without attraction, and its structure is "threatened" by the recognition of its inappropriateness for meeting its new purpose. The conflict between the goal and the structure of the relationship is so apparent that they cannot coexist. Yet now the goal will not be changed. Set firmly in the unholy relationship, there is no course except to change the relationship to fit the goal. Until this happy solution is seen and accepted as the only way out of the conflict, the relationship seems to be severely strained.

It would not be kinder to shift the goal more slowly, for the contrast would be obscured and the ego given time to reinterpret each slow step according to its liking.

Only a radical shift in purpose could induce a complete change of mind about what the whole relationship is for.

As this change develops and is finally accomplished, it grows increasingly beneficent and joyous. But at the beginning, the situation is experienced as very precarious. A relationship undertaken by two individuals for their unholy purposes suddenly has holiness for its goal. As these two contemplate their relationship from the point of view of this new purpose, they are inevitably appalled. Their perception of the relationship may even become quite disorganized. And yet, the former organization of their perception no longer serves the purpose they have agreed to meet.

This is the time for faith. You let this goal be set for you. That was an act of faith. Do not abandon faith, now that the rewards of faith are being introduced. If you believed the Holy Spirit was there to accept the relationship, why would you now not still believe that He is there to purify what He has taken under His guidance?

Have faith in each other in what but seems to be a trying time.

The goal is set. And your relationship has sanity as its purpose. For now you find yourselves in an insane relationship, recognized as such in the light of its goal.

Now the ego counsels thussubstitute for this another relationship to which your former goal was quite appropriate. You can escape from your distress only by getting rid of each other. You need not part entirely if you choose not to do so. But you must exclude major areas of fantasy from each other to save your sanity. Hear not this now! Have faith in Him Who answered you. He heard. Has He not been very explicit in His answer? You are not now wholly insane. Can you deny that He has given you a most explicit statement? Now He asks for faith a little longer, even in bewilderment. For this will go, and you will see the justification for your faith emerge to bring you shining conviction. Abandon Him not now, nor each other. This relationship has been reborn as holy.

Accept with gladness what you do not understand, and let it be explained to you as you perceive its purpose work in it to make it holy. You will find many opportunities to blame each other for the "failure" of your relationship, for it will seem at times to have no purpose. A sense of aimlessness will come to haunt you and to remind you of all the ways you once sought for satisfaction and thought you found it. Forget not now the misery you really found, and do not now breathe life into your failing egos. For your relationship has not been disrupted. It has been saved.

You are very new in the ways of salvation and think you have lost your way. Your way is lost, but think not this is loss.

In your newness, remember that you have started again together. And take each other's hand to walk together along a road far more familiar than you now believe. Is it not certain that you will remember a goal unchanged throughout eternity? For you have chosen but the goal of God from which your true intent was never absent.

Throughout the Sonship is the song of freedom heard in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship. Join in His blessing, and withhold not yours upon it. For all it needs now is your blessing that you may see that in it rests salvation. Condemn salvation not, for it has come to you. And welcome it together, for it has come to join you together in a relationship in which all the Sonship is together blessed.

You undertook together to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise.

Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work. And He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him. Nor does He see the mistakes at all.

Have you been similarly grateful to each other?

Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts and overlooked mistakes?

Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes?

You are now entering upon a campaign to blame each other for the discomfort of the situation in which you find yourselves. And by this lack of thanks and gratitude, you make yourselves unable to express the holy instant, and thus you lose sight of it.

The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time but not concealed within it. The instant remains. But where are you?

To give thanks to each other is to appreciate the holy instant and thus enable its results to be accepted and shared. To attack each other is not to lose the instant but to make it powerless in its effects. You have received the holy instant, but you have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realize that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack each other, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself and recognize what has been given and received by you.

You stand together in the holy presence of truth itself. Here is the goal, together with you. Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? It is just this same discrepancy between the purpose that has been accepted and the means as they stand now which seems to make you suffer, but which makes Heaven glad.

If Heaven were outside you, you could not share in its gladness.

Yet because it is within, the gladness, too, is yours. You are joined in purpose, but remain still separate and divided on the means.

Yet the goal is fixed, firm, and unalterable, and the means will surely fall in place because the goal is sure. And you will share the gladness of the Sonship that it is so. As you begin to recognize and accept the gifts you have so freely given to each other, you will also accept the effects of the holy instant and use them to correct all your mistakes and free you from their results. And learning this, you will have also learned how to release all the Sonship and offer it in gladness and thanksgiving to Him Who gave you your release, and Who would extend it through you.

 

You undertook, together, to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise. Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work; and He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him, nor does He see the mistakes at all.

 
 

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