ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for September 30
4. What Are the Characteristics of God’s Teachers
This is the foundation on which their ability to fulfil their function rests. Perception is the result of learning. In fact, perception is learning, because cause and effect are never separated. The teachers of God have trust in the world, because they have learned it is not governed by the laws the world made up. It is governed by a power that is in them but not of them. It is this power that keeps all things safe. It is through this power that the teachers of God look on a forgiven world.
When this Power has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one’s own petty strength again. Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him? And who would place his faith in the shabby offerings of the ego when the gifts of God are laid before him? What is it that induces them to make the shift?
A. Development of Trust
First, they must go through what might be called “a period of undoing”. This need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognised. How can lack of value be perceived unless the perceiver is in a position where he must see things in a different light? He is not yet at a point at which he can make the shift entirely internally. And so the plan will sometimes call for changes in what seem to be external circumstances. These changes are always helpful. When the teacher of God has learned that much, he goes on to the second stage.
Next, the teacher of God must go through “a period of sorting out”. This is always somewhat difficult because, having learned that the changes in his life are always helpful, he must now decide all things on the basis of whether they increase the helpfulness or hamper it. He will find that many, if not most of the things he valued before will merely hinder his ability to transfer what he has learned to new situations as they arise. Because he has valued what is really valueless, he will not generalise the lesson for fear of loss and sacrifice. It takes great learning to understand that all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful. It is only to the extent to which they are helpful that any degree of reality should be accorded them in this world of illusion. The word “value” can apply to nothing else.
The third stage through which the teacher of God must go can be called “a period of relinquishment”. If this is interpreted as giving up the desirable, it will engender enormous conflict. Few teachers of God escape this distress entirely. There is, however, no point in sorting out the valuable from the valueless unless the next obvious step is taken. Therefore, the period of overlap is apt to be one in which the teacher of God feels called upon to sacrifice his own best interests on behalf of truth. He has not realised as yet how wholly impossible such a demand would be. He can learn this only as he actually does give up the valueless. Through this, he learns that where he anticipated grief, he finds a happy light-heartedness instead; where he thought something was asked of him, he finds a gift bestowed on him.
Now comes “a period of settling down”. This is a quiet time, in which the teacher of God rests a while in reasonable peace. Now he consolidates his learning. Now he begins to see the transfer value of what he has learned. Its potential is literally staggering, and the teacher of God is now at the point in his progress at which he sees in it his whole way out. “Give up what you do not want, and keep what you do”. How simple is the obvious! And how easy to do! The teacher of God needs this period of respite. He has not yet come as far as he thinks. Yet when he is ready to go on, he goes with mighty companions beside him. Now he rests a while, and gathers them before going on. He will not go on from here alone.
The next stage is indeed “a period of unsettling”. Now must the teacher of God understand that he did not really know what was valuable and what was valueless. All that he really learned so far was that he did not want the valueless, and that he did want the valuable. Yet his own sorting out was meaningless in teaching him the difference. The idea of sacrifice, so central to his own thought system, had made it impossible for him to judge. He thought he learned willingness, but now he sees that he does not know what the willingness is for. And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible to reach for a long, long time. He must learn to lay all judgement aside, and ask only what he really wants in every circumstance. Were not each step in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed!
And finally, there is “a period of achievement”. It is here that learning is consolidated. Now what was seen as merely shadows before become solid gains, to be counted on in all “emergencies” as well as tranquil times. Indeed, the tranquillity is their result; the outcome of honest learning, consistency of thought and full transfer. This is the stage of real peace, for here is Heaven’s state fully reflected. From here, the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here. Who would “go” anywhere, if peace of mind is already complete? And who would seek to change tranquillity for something more desirable? What could be more desirable than this?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 30
The stillness of the peace of God is mine.
Perhaps we are now ready for a day of undisturbed tranquility. If this is not yet feasible, we are content and even more than satisfied to learn how such a day can be achieved. If we give way to a disturbance, let us learn how to dismiss it and return to peace. We need but tell our minds, with certainty, “The stillness of the peace of God is mine,” and nothing can intrude upon the peace that God Himself has given to His Son.
Father, Your peace is mine. What need have I to fear that anything can rob me of what You would have me keep? I cannot lose Your gifts to me. And so the peace You gave Your Son is with me still, in quietness and in my own eternal love for You.
Miracle Principle for September 30
The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick
A miracle is a correction introduced into false thinking by me.
It acts as a catalyst, breaking up erroneous perception and reorganizing it properly.
This places you under the Atonement principle, where perception is healed.
Until this has occurred, knowledge of the Divine Order is impossible.
“Erroneous perception” is perceiving a problem in the world, external to us. The miracle reorganizes perception because it shifts perception back to where the problem really is, in our minds. Jesus is the one who introduces the miracle. Our job is merely to choose to want him to, to ask his help to see the situation the way he does. This is true perception. Jesus takes the false perceptions we have made real — sickness, conflict, war, etc.– and turns them around so that we see everything the same way: everyone, including ourselves, is calling for help. The Atonement principle is then chosen, which can be restated as the denial of the reality of the separation and guilt.
Another technical term used consistently throughout A Course in Miracles is “knowledge.” As the Course uses it, it is synonymous with Heaven. The counterpart to knowledge, or the opposite to knowledge, is perception, and almost always you will see those two terms juxtaposed. Knowledge transcends the subject-object dichotomy, which is inherent in perception. Even “holy visions” (such as those many mystics report) are perceptual and, therefore, do not last.
Knowledge is of spirit, of God, and cannot be attained in this world. In fact, the Course says very clearly that knowledge is not the goal of this Course; peace is (text, p. 128; T-8.I.1:1-2). Here it is talking about the peace that comes within this world when you look on all people as being joined with you. There is no guilt and no attack.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #655: I have discovered that my form of attacking the Sonship is overeating. I felt that I was ready through reducing what I eat to look at the guilt and hopefully reduce the fear of God’s Love and not use that particular form of attack any more. What I have found is that it is INCREDIBLY difficult to do this, even though I know exactly what purpose my overeating serves — to attack God’s Son and keep God’s Love away, or to reinforce separation.
I was hoping you could help me with this process. When I reduce what I eat, there is a very strong feeling of “hunger” that overwhelms me. I think at that point I want to turn to the Holy Spirit and “look” at the guilt in my mind so that I can see that it is not real. When I do this I am not getting any clear thoughts about how to do this. The strong thought is the hunger and need to eat a bunch of junk so the feeling will go away. What does it mean to “look at the guilt”? Do you have any suggestions for how I can get past this block that I have to the awareness of love’s presence? What are some of the “truths” I can use to help me become less afraid and get past this form of attack?
A: You’ve got part of it right, but there’s an important aspect of your current approach to food that you may want to reconsider, in light of the teachings of A Course in Miracles. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get a guilt-based, addictive behavior, such as overeating — or drinking, or gambling, etc. — under control, and that can sometimes be a very helpful first step. But if that is your primary goal, even if you acknowledge that it is a form or symbol for your attack on the Sonship, you’ve put the cart before the horse, from the Course’s perspective! That puts you in good company, since most students want to try to change their behavior rather than their minds. And this is only a “natural” desire, while we are more identified with the body in time and space than with the mind outside of time and space. But it’s playing right into the ego’s grand design of keeping our attention focused on effect (the body) and relegating cause (the mind) to a secondary role.
An alternative approach, which reflects the Course’s emphasis on thought rather than behavior, would be to shift your goal from reducing your food intake to merely watching the thoughts that accompany your cravings and your eating binges. We believe the problem is our destructive behavior, but Jesus says that the behavior is only ever a symptom of the underlying destructive thought of guilt in the mind (T.2.VI.3). The behavior helps us recognize that the guilt is there in the mind, but our purpose, believe it or not, is not to change either the behavior or the guilt, but merely to acknowledge the guilt and ask for help in seeing ourselves differently. You see, the overeating in itself is not the attack. The thought that motivates the overeating is the attack — and that thought is not real. And if our goal is to change either, we are saying both the thought and its effect — the overeating — are real. Obviously, since both feel very real to us, we cannot be the ones to undo them.
The thought of guilt may be experienced as anxiety, fear, neediness, scarcity, inadequacy, self- loathing, etc. The ego wants us to make the specific interpretation — that we are hungry and craving food and the way to address the problem is to eat. The Course invites us to dissociate the thought from the specific context and recognize that the underlying thought is really a statement we are making about ourselves, that we are empty and missing something inside — the love we unconsciously believe we have thrown away (T.30.III.1,2,3). And this thought is the source of our guilt. Whether we eat something or not is irrelevant as we allow ourselves to get in touch with the underlying thought, which may bring up both fear and pain. We don’t want to minimize this step, but we also don’t want to stop with it.
And so the Course process of looking with the Holy Spirit or Jesus means that we take what seems very real and powerful to us — our guilt, in whatever form it seems real for us — and look at it with Their gentle, nonjudgmental presence beside us. If we are successful in joining with Their love in this process of looking, we will experience some level of reduction in the intensity of our guilt-based feelings. Our continuing investment in the ego and the self we think we are, which are protected by the guilt, will determine how willing we are to release the guilt in any particular moment. So we do not want to judge ourselves if the feelings do not seem to diminish, but just continue to look as honestly as we can and ask for the help to see ourselves in a different light. For what we believe about ourselves — that we are sinful, guilty, weak, limited creatures — is an ego- based lie. And the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our minds is proof that it is a lie, for our minds could not be home to Their gentle presence if we were the limited selves we have up until now insisted we are. This process of looking at and releasing our guilt is likely to take time so it is important that we be patient with ourselves. Over time, the need to use food to push away those unpleasant, even terrifying thoughts, may also diminish, and food itself will recede in importance as a focus of concern.
A more in-depth discussion of this process and these issues can be found in “Overeating: A Dialogue” (published in both a small book and a single tape format), which presents a discussion Ken Wapnick held with three students around issues of food addiction and preoccupation with weight.