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ACIM – CHAPTER 21 REASON AND PERCEPTION VII The Last Unanswered Question

1. Do you not see that all your misery comes from the strange belief that you are powerless? Being helpless is the cost of sin. Helplessness is sin’s condition; the one requirement that it demands to be believed. Only the helpless could believe in it. Enormity has no appeal save to the little. And only those who first believe that they are little could see attraction there. Treachery to the Son of God is the defense of those who do not identify with him. And you are for him or against him: either you love him or attack him, protect his unity or see him shattered and slain by your attack.

2.  No one believes the Son of God is powerless. And those who see themselves as helpless must believe that they are not the Son of God. What can they be except his enemy? And what can they do but envy him his power, and by their envy make themselves afraid of it? These are the dark ones, silent and afraid, alone and not communicating, fearful the power of the Son of God will strike them dead and raising up their helplessness against him. They joined the army of the powerless, to wage their war of vengeance, bitterness, and spite on him, to make him one with them. Because they do not know that they are one with him, they know not whom they hate. They are indeed a sorry army. Each one as likely to attack his brother or turn upon himself as to remember that they thought they had a common cause.

3. Frantic and loud and strong the dark ones seem to be. Yet they know not their “enemy,” except they hate him.  In hatred they have come together but have not joined each other.  For had they done so hatred would be impossible. The army of the powerless must be disbanded in the presence of strength. Those who are strong are never treacherous, because they have no need to dream of power and to act out their dream. How would an army act in dreams? Any way at all. It could be seen attacking anyone with anything. Dreams have no reason in them. A flower turns into a poison spear, a child becomes a giant And a mouse roars like a lion. And love is turned to hate as easily. This is no army, but a madhouse. What seems to be a planned attack is bedlam.

4. The army of the powerless is weak indeed. It has no weapons, and it has no enemy. Yes, it can overrun the world and seek an enemy.  But it can never find what is not there. Yes, it can dream it found an enemy, but this will shift even as it attacks, so that it runs at once to find another, and never comes to rest in victory.  And as it runs it turns against itself, thinking it caught a glimpse of the great enemy who always eludes its murderous attack by turning into something else. How treacherous does this enemy appear, who changes so it is impossible even to recognize him.

5.  Yet hate must have a target. There can be no faith in sin without an enemy. Who that believes in sin would dare believe he has no enemy? Could he admit that no one made him powerless?  Reason would surely bid him seek no longer what is not there to find. Yet first he must be willing to perceive a world where it is not. It is not necessary that he understand how he can see it. Nor should he try. For if he focuses on what he cannot understand, he will but emphasize his helplessness and let sin tell him that his enemy must be himself. But let him only ask himself these questions, which he must decide, to have it done for him:

Do I desire a world I rule instead of one that rules me?

Do I desire a world where I am powerful instead of helpless?

Do I desire a world in which I have no enemies and cannot sin?

And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth?

6. You may already have answered the first three questions, but not yet the last.  For this one still seems fearful, and unlike the others. Yet reason would assure you they are all the same. We said this year would emphasize the sameness of things that are the same. This final question, which is indeed the last you need decide, still seems to hold a threat the rest have lost for you. And this imagined difference attests to your belief that truth may be the enemy you yet may find. Here, then, would seem to be the last remaining hope of finding sin, and not accepting power.

7.  Forget not that the choice of sin or truth, helplessness or power, is the choice of whether to attack or heal. For healing comes of power, and attack of helplessness. Whom you attack you cannot want to heal. And whom you would have healed must be the one you chose to be protected from attack. And what is this decision but the choice of whether to see him through the body’s eyes, or let him be revealed to you through vision? How this decision leads to its effects is not your problem. But what you want to see must be your choice. This is a course in cause and not effect.

8.  Consider carefully your answer to the last question you have left unanswered still. And let your reason tell you that it must be answered and is answered in the other three. And then it will be clear to you that, as you look on the effects of sin in any form, all you need to do is simply ask yourself:

Is this what I would see? Do I want this?

9.  This is your one decision; this the condition for what occurs. It is irrelevant to how it happens, but not to why. You have control of this. And if you choose to see a world without an enemy, in which you are not helpless, the means to see it will be given you.

10.  Why is the final question so important? Reason will tell you why. It is the same as are the other three, except in time. The others are decisions that can be made, and then unmade and made again. But truth is constant, and implies a state where vacillations are impossible. You can desire a world you rule that rules you not and change your mind. You can desire to exchange your helplessness for power and lose this same desire as a little glint of sin attracts you. And you can want to see a sinless world and let an “enemy” tempt you to use the body’s eyes and change what you desire.

11. In content all the questions are the same. For each one asks if you are willing to exchange the world of sin for what the Holy Spirit sees, since it is this the world of sin denies. And therefore, those who look on sin are seeing the denial of the real world. Yet the last question is the wish for constancy in your desire to see the real world, so the desire becomes the only one you have. By answering the final question “yes,” you add sincerity to the decisions you have already made to all the rest. For only then have you renounced the option to change your mind again. When it is this you do not want, the rest are wholly answered.

12. Why do you think you are unsure the others have been answered? Could it be necessary they be asked so often, if they had? Until the last decision has been made, the answer is both “yes” and “no.”  For you have answered “yes” without perceiving that “yes” must mean “not no.”  No one decides against his happiness, but he may do so if he does not see he does it. And if he sees his happiness as ever changing, now this, now that, and now an elusive shadow attached to nothing, he does decide against it.

13. Elusive happiness or happiness in changing form that shifts with time and place, is an illusion that has no meaning. Happiness must be constant, because it is attained by giving up the wish for the inconstant. Joy cannot be perceived except through constant vision. And constant vision can be given only those who wish for constancy. The power of the Son of God’s desire remains the proof that he is wrong who sees himself as helpless. Desire what you want, and you will look on it and think it real. No thought but has the power to release or kill. And none can leave the thinker’s mind or leave him unaffected.[1]

In today’s devotional text, Jesus asks us to consider the four questions, with the final emphasis on the last one.  As we come to know our true Self as Son of God, it is easy for us to vacillate between belief in the power of what we made of Creation and Creation as it was and is and ever will be! 

In your personal devotional practice today meditate upon the words of our text and in your time alone when you are not distracted by the temporal world, remind yourself of the High Mind of Christ which is in you.  Go to that place and ask yourself the first three questions:

Do I desire a world I rule instead of one that rules me? Do I desire a world where I am powerful instead of helpless? Do I desire a world in which I have no enemies and cannot sin?

Do you recognize where this world is in which you rule supreme as trusted and holy Son of God?  Do you recognize the world where you are all powerful and all that surround you and are part of you are there to help you, have fun with you, and enjoy eternal relationship which is based upon undying love, wholehearted trust, and everlasting devotion? 

For those of us who have devoted this year to the study of this Course, we know this place.  We visit this place every time we choose to take our relationships to holiness, every time we take our joys and our sorrows to the place where they can be truly appreciated or healed, every time we see past the clamor and woe of the time-based realm to the real world of love and joy and peace.  We know this place. We have access to this world.  We have determined that it is true and it is worth dedicating several hours of our day to becoming familiar with this world and the Self which is at home in this place. 

But now comes the time when Jesus is directing us to consider the last question.  The one which we have not as yet answered, the one which frees us completely from the iffy, chancy, chaotic world of sin, evil, death, and decay completely to dedicate ourselves completely to what we have, collectively and individually denied. Are we ready to take responsibility for denying the truth because we loved and cherished that which opposed and made opposites to that which had no opposition and no opposites?  Can we get our minds around this completely?  Can we accept that what has trapped us in our illusions and madness was not God’s doing but our own? 

Do we really want to see the truth which we denied ourselves?  Only that which is real and everlasting can be constant and certain.  Only that which lasts forever can be truly happy for happiness cannot be happiness when it can go away or be turned to sorrow and despair.  Only that which lasts forever can be truly loving, joyful, and peaceful for without certainty, without the kind of devotion that lasts through all that would rise against it can it be real. 

And when we realize this, we see what we exchanged for truth.  We see the world we made cannot be real, the things we chased all turn to dust; the bodies we worshiped and adored decayed and decrepit.  We see the ego’s gods we paid our tithes to, sing our praises to, badgered and bullied our loved ones to fear and serve fail us in our greatest hour of need. For false gods cannot be trusted to answer every prayer or make the rain fall or the sun shine only upon their favorites and their pets.  Only false gods accept bargains, demand worship, and thrive on flattery.   Do we really want to see that time and all it holds is but a dream upheld by opposing the Love and Awe of God and for our Selves, His Son.  For when we see what we denied as truth, we are free of any remnant of fear and irreverence toward God, toward our Selves, toward each other, and all of Creation now and forever. 


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 21 Reason and perception. VII. The last unanswered question. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

For daily 2021 Workbook lessons, visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM, Teaching and Learning

About the Author

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Coming up on sixty, my love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at eckief@yahoo.com.

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