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Chapter 19: The Attainment of Peace

Section IV-Bi: The Attraction of Pain

Read ACIM Chapter 19, Section IV-B-i (pages 414-16)

When does the peace of Heaven disappear from our awareness?

Chapter 19 has the title, The Attainment of Peace. In order to attain peace, we must be able to recognize what we are identifying with which causes peace to disappear. Peace is the condition of Heaven. The peace of Heaven disappears when we choose to experience the opposite of Heaven. Heaven is perfect oneness. When we choose to believe we were separate from perfect oneness, we are choosing to sacrifice the awareness of Heaven in order to experience what it would be like to make up our own rules about what we are and where we are.

When are we choosing the pain found in fear and guilt?

In this section, The Attraction of Pain, Jesus helps us understand that when we equate ourselves with the body, we are choosing the pain found in fear and guilt, which is the same as the pain of hell. In Chapter 31 he elaborates on this in a way where we can clearly see that when we make the body our identity, we are choosing pain instead of happiness. We are choosing to join with fear instead of Love. “The concept of the [separate] self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides [truth] from your sight. All things you see are images, because you look on them as through a barrier that dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness, and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell.” (T-31.VII.7:1-6)

When we are attracted to believe in the lie that we are separate selves that reside within separate and unique bodies, we are attracted to pain. We are attracted to hell. And because of the power of our desire, what we choose, we will experience. In Chapter 31 Jesus tells us: “Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear. This is temptation; nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.” (T-31:VII.14:1-9)

When we are not choosing the peace and oneness of Heaven, what are we choosing instead?

So here we see that when we are not choosing the peace and oneness of Heaven, we are choosing hell. Jesus helps us understand how we are choosing hell when we equate ourselves with the body when he tells us: “It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship [between pleasure and pain] be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.” (12:1-7)

A key here to understand is that, when we equate ourselves with the body, we are choosing to find pain. Why? Within the ego thought system (which is pushed into unconscious levels), is the belief that we really did separate from God, and that we are guilty for our crime against our Creator. And this sin demands punishment. To the ego, the body is the means by which the separation is accomplished, and therefore the body deserves punishment and even death to “atone” for the sin of separation. When we equate ourselves with the body, we are really equating ourselves with guilt, punishment and death.

What does Jesus say is the purpose of this world according to the ego?

In addition to this, Jesus explains that the purpose of this whole world of separation is to project the guilt that we believe is ours. What the ego does not tell us is that when we project guilt, we are merely sending it to ourselves. “The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognize this, and both also recognize that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himself?” (14:8-11)

Jesus tells us this because he would have us freed of guilt and pain. He wants to help us understand how deceptive the ego thought system is so that we will give it up. He tells us, “Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin [separation], and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body’s praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego’s rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.” (16:1-5)

As we learn to place our faith in the eternal, what will we find instead of suffering and guilt?

The good news is that we now know that we have a choice. We can accept the Holy Spirit’s peace instead of the ego’s guilt. We can identify with the eternal Spirit of Love as What we are instead of the body. Where would we place our faith? Jesus tells us, “Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly, and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself.” (10:1-3)

We have a choice. We can choose the peace that comes with accepting Love’s oneness, or we can continue to identify with the body, which is the attraction of pain. Once we really see how hopeless it is to project guilt, we will gladly give it up. We will let peace overcome all obstacles to remembering Love’s eternal presence.

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.
 

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