ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 31

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 31

29. AS FOR THE REST …

This manual is not intended to answer all questions that both teacher and pupil may raise. In fact, it covers only a few of the more obvious ones, in terms of a brief summary of some of the major concepts in the text and workbook. It is not a substitute for either, but merely a supplement. While it is called a manual for teachers, it must be remembered that only time divides teacher and pupil, so that the difference is temporary by definition. In some cases, it may be helpful for the pupil to read the manual first. Others might do better to begin with the workbook. Still others may need to start at the more abstract level of the text.

Which is for which? Who would profit more from prayers alone? Who needs but a smile, being as yet unready for more? No one should attempt to answer these questions alone. Surely no teacher of God has come this far without realising that. The curriculum is highly individualised, and all aspects are under the Holy Spirit’s particular care and guidance. Ask and He will answer. The responsibility is His, and He alone is fit to assume it. To do so is His function. To refer the questions to Him is yours. Would you want to be responsible for decisions about which you understand so little. Be glad you have a Teacher Who cannot make a mistake. His answers are always right. Would you say that of yours?

There is another advantage,—and a very important one,—in referring decisions to the Holy Spirit with increasing frequency. Perhaps you have not thought of this aspect, but its centrality is obvious. To follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance is to let yourself be absolved of guilt. It is the essence of the Atonement. It is the core of the curriculum. The imagined usurping of functions not your own is the basis of fear. The whole world you see reflects the illusion that you have done so, making fear inevitable. To return the function to the One to Whom it belongs is thus the escape from fear. And it is this that lets the memory of love return to you. Do not, then, think that following the Holy Spirit’s guidance is necessary merely because of your own inadequacies. It is the way out of hell for you.

Here again is the paradox often referred to in the course. To say, “Of myself I can do nothing” is to gain all power. And yet it is but a seeming paradox. As God created you, you have all power. The image you made of yourself has none. The Holy Spirit knows the truth about you. The image you made does not. Yet, despite its obvious and complete ignorance, this image assumes it knows all things because you have given that belief to it. Such is your teaching, and teaching of the world that was made to uphold it. But the Teacher Who knows the truth has not forgotten it. His decisions bring benefit to all, being wholly devoid of attack. And therefore incapable of arousing guilt.

Who assumes a power that he does not possess is deceiving himself. Yet to accept the power given him by God is but to acknowledge his Creator and accept His gifts. And His gifts have no limit. To ask the Holy Spirit to decide for you is simply to accept your true inheritance. Does this mean that you cannot say anything without consulting Him? No, indeed! That would hardly be practical, and it is the practical with which this course is most concerned. If you have made it a habit to ask for help when and where you can, you can be confident that wisdom will be given you when you need it. Prepare for this each morning, remember God when you can throughout the day, ask the Holy Spirit’s help when it is feasible to do so, and thank Him for His guidance at night. And your confidence will be well founded indeed.

Never forget that the Holy Spirit does not depend on your words. He understands the requests of your heart, and answers them. Does this mean that, while attack remains attractive to you, He will respond with evil? Hardly! For God has given Him the power to translate your prayers of the heart into His language. He understands that an attack is a call for help. And He responds with help accordingly. God would be cruel if He let your words replace His Own. A loving father does not let his child harm himself, or choose his own destruction. He may ask for injury, but his father will protect him still. And how much more than this does your Father love His Son?

Remember you are His completion and His Love. Remember your weakness is His strength. But do not read this hastily or wrongly. If His strength is in you, what you perceive as your weakness is but illusion. And He has given you the means to prove it so. Ask all things of His Teacher, and all things are given you. Not in the future but immediately; now. God does not wait, for waiting implies time and He is timeless. Forget your foolish images, your sense of frailty and your fear of harm, your dreams of danger and selected “wrongs”. God knows but His Son, and as he was created so he is. In confidence I place you in His hands, and I give thanks for you that this is so.

And now in all your doings be you blessed.
God turns to you for help to save the world.
Teacher of God, His thanks He offers you,
And all the world stands silent in the grace
You bring from Him. You are the Son He loves,
And it is given you to be the means
Through which His Voice is heard around the world,
To close all things of time; to end the sight
Of all things visible; and to undo
All things that change. Through you is ushered in
A world unseen, unheard, yet truly there.
Holy are you, and in your light the world
Reflects your holiness, for you are not
Alone and friendless. I give thanks for you,
And join your efforts on behalf of God,
Knowing they are on my behalf as well,
And for all those who walk to God with me.
AMEN

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 31

Lesson 304

Let not my world obscure the sight of Christ.

I can obscure my holy sight, if I intrude my world upon it. Nor can I behold the holy sights Christ looks upon, unless it is His vision that I use. Perception is a mirror, not a fact. And what I look on is my state of mind, reflected outward. I would bless the world by looking on it through the eyes of Christ. And I will look upon the certain signs that all my sins have been forgiven me.

You lead me from the darkness to the light; from sin to holiness. Let me forgive, and thus receive salvation for the world. It is Your gift, my Father, given me to offer to Your holy Son, that he may find again the memory of You, and of Your Son as You created him.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #89: The course says we are not our body. The Christ Self is in us and we are not in a body. The real Self the Christ is in Holiness. Where are we then? Everything is inside but not inside the body then where? Is it the place before I became a body? Where was I before I took a body form? Is that where the Christ and my real Self is? If individual consciousness does not exist there, how does one know the place when he is there? Or is (not knowing) real knowledge.

A: We are at a distinct disadvantage in trying to answer these questions, which are everyone’s questions. The reason is that we have no way of conceptualizing or understanding what does not have physical (quantifiable) dimensions. And that is precisely what the Christ Self is — beyond time and space entirely. Therefore “where” does not apply — “where” always has spatial connotations, as do the terms inside and outside. We have no concepts nor a language that can encompass non-physical reality. And to take this one step further, we are trying to understand a realm of reality which we have chosen to banish from our awareness, and/or have changed its true meaning entirely. Moreover, the body (i.e., the brain) was specifically made not to understand (T.18.IX.4,5). So we are really severely “disabled” when we start grappling with these issues, and yet they are vitally important to us.

Indeed, we can say that the Christ Self is nowhere, which is “where” we were before we took bodily form, and we will have no trouble recognizing it when we return because it is not a place, and besides, we never left. Okay, now that you are even more confused, let’s see if we can unravel this a bit:

We are told that “to be without a body is to be in our natural state” (W.pI.72.9:3), but that “what you have done to hurt your mind has made it so unnatural that it does not remember what is natural to it. And when you are told what is natural, you cannot understand it” (T.16.II.3:1,2). This is our predicament. We have hurt our minds by denying we have a mind and thinking instead that we are bodies. We continue to do this — although we are not aware that we are making these choices — so that we can keep the separation going. Thus we think physical existence is real, and our true Self is an unknown and distant reality. When we no longer have a need to deny our true Identity as spirit, as Christ, we will simply be what we always have been. We never truly “became” a body. We remain decision-making minds simply fantasizing or hallucinating that we are something other than our Christ Self. As a result, there would not be a problem recognizing “where” we are when we no longer are “in” a body, because we are never “in” a body at all. The mind just chooses to think it is a body. Our body is just an idea in the mind, and since “ideas leave not their source,” it has no reality outside the mind that thinks it. That is why Jesus concentrates so much on the need to look within our minds with him — so that we would become aware of this thought system, which we have chosen to govern all of our thinking and perception.

The following quote nicely expresses some of these points: “The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained. I can make you aware of the conditions of truth, but the experience is of God. Together we can meet its conditions, but truth will dawn upon you of itself” (T.8.VI.9:6,7,8,9,10,11).

The conditions Jesus is talking about of course pertain to forgiveness, which is why it is the central theme of his teachings. A major effect of practicing forgiveness is that our identification with the body automatically begins to weaken and is replaced by more frequent perceptions of our oneness with each other beyond the body. So as we continue to forgive ourselves and others, we gradually allow back into our awareness what we had been denying by believing we are individuals living in a physical world with separate and competing interests and goals. As we make our way back up the ladder separation led us down (T.28.III.1:2), our identity shifts slowly and the kinds of questions you raise begin to fade and ultimately disappear, because they have come from the perspective of bodily, individualized existence, and that perspective has now shifted.

want only love

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ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 30

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 30

28. WHAT IS THE RESURRECTION?

Very simply, the resurrection is the overcoming or surmounting of death. It is a re-awakening or a rebirth; a change of mind about the meaning of the world. It is the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world’s purpose; the acceptance of the Atonement for oneself. It is the end of dreams of misery, and the glad awareness of the Holy Spirit’s final dream. It is the recognition of the gifts of God. It is the dream in which the body functions perfectly, having no function except communication. It is the lesson in which learning ends, for it is consummated and surpassed with this. It is the invitation to God to take His final step. It is the relinquishment of all other purposes, all other interests, all other wishes and all other concerns. It is the single desire of the Son for the Father.

The resurrection is the denial of death, being the assertion of life. Thus is all the thinking of the world reversed entirely. Life is now recognised as salvation, and pain and misery of any kind perceived as hell. Love is no longer feared, but gladly welcomed. Idols have disappeared, and the remembrance of God shines unimpeded across the world. Christ’s face is seen in every living thing, and nothing is held in darkness, apart from the light of forgiveness. There is no sorrow still upon the earth. The joy of Heaven has come upon it.

Here the curriculum ends. From here on, no directions are needed. Vision is wholly corrected and all mistakes undone. Attack is meaningless and peace has come. The goal of the curriculum has been achieved. Thoughts turn to Heaven and away from hell. All longings are satisfied, for what remains unanswered or incomplete? The last illusion spreads across the world, forgiving all things and replacing all attack. The whole reversal is accomplished. Nothing is left to contradict the Word of God. There is no opposition to the truth. And now the truth can come at last. How quickly will it come as it is asked to enter and envelop such a world!

All living hearts are tranquil with a stir of deep anticipation, for the time of everlasting things is now at hand. There is no death. The Son of God is free. And in his freedom is the end of fear. No hidden places now remain on earth to shelter sick illusions, dreams of fear and misperceptions of the universe. All things are seen in light, and in the light their purpose is transformed and understood. And we, God’s children, rise up from the dust and look upon our perfect sinlessness. The song of Heaven sounds around the world, as it is lifted up and brought to truth.

Now there are no distinctions. Differences have disappeared and Love looks on Itself. What further sight is needed? What remains that vision could accomplish? We have seen the face of Christ, His sinlessness, His Love behind all forms, beyond all purposes. Holy are we because His holiness has set us free indeed! And we accept His holiness as ours; as it is. As God created us so will we be forever and forever, and we wish for nothing but His Will to be our own. Illusions of another will are lost, for unity of purpose has been found.

These things await us all, but we are not prepared as yet to welcome them with joy. As long as any mind remains possessed of evil dreams, the thought of hell is real. God’s teachers have the goal of wakening the minds of those asleep, and seeing there the vision of Christ’s face to take the place of what they dream. The thought of murder is replaced with blessing. judgement is laid by, and given Him Whose function judgement is. And in His final judgement is restored the truth about the holy Son of God. He is redeemed, for he has heard God’s Word and understood its meaning. He is free because he let God’s Voice proclaim the truth. And all he sought before to crucify are resurrected with him, by his side, as he prepares with them to meet his God.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 30

Lesson 303
The holy Christ is born in me today.

Watch with me, angels, watch with me today. Let all God’s holy Thoughts surround me, and be still with me while Heaven’s Son is born. Let earthly sounds be quiet, and the sights to which I am accustomed disappear. Let Christ be welcomed where He is at home. And let Him hear the sounds He understands, and see but sights that show His Father’s Love. Let Him no longer be a stranger here, for He is born again in me today.

Your Son is welcome, Father. He has come to save me from the evil self I made. He is the Self that You have given me. He is but what I really am in truth. He is the Son You love above all things. He is my Self as You created me. It is not Christ that can be crucified. Safe in Your Arms let me receive Your Son.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 30

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 30

28. WHAT IS THE RESURRECTION?

Very simply, the resurrection is the overcoming or surmounting of death. It is a re-awakening or a rebirth; a change of mind about the meaning of the world. It is the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world’s purpose; the acceptance of the Atonement for oneself. It is the end of dreams of misery, and the glad awareness of the Holy Spirit’s final dream. It is the recognition of the gifts of God. It is the dream in which the body functions perfectly, having no function except communication. It is the lesson in which learning ends, for it is consummated and surpassed with this. It is the invitation to God to take His final step. It is the relinquishment of all other purposes, all other interests, all other wishes and all other concerns. It is the single desire of the Son for the Father.

The resurrection is the denial of death, being the assertion of life. Thus is all the thinking of the world reversed entirely. Life is now recognised as salvation, and pain and misery of any kind perceived as hell. Love is no longer feared, but gladly welcomed. Idols have disappeared, and the remembrance of God shines unimpeded across the world. Christ’s face is seen in every living thing, and nothing is held in darkness, apart from the light of forgiveness. There is no sorrow still upon the earth. The joy of Heaven has come upon it.

Here the curriculum ends. From here on, no directions are needed. Vision is wholly corrected and all mistakes undone. Attack is meaningless and peace has come. The goal of the curriculum has been achieved. Thoughts turn to Heaven and away from hell. All longings are satisfied, for what remains unanswered or incomplete? The last illusion spreads across the world, forgiving all things and replacing all attack. The whole reversal is accomplished. Nothing is left to contradict the Word of God. There is no opposition to the truth. And now the truth can come at last. How quickly will it come as it is asked to enter and envelop such a world!

All living hearts are tranquil with a stir of deep anticipation, for the time of everlasting things is now at hand. There is no death. The Son of God is free. And in his freedom is the end of fear. No hidden places now remain on earth to shelter sick illusions, dreams of fear and misperceptions of the universe. All things are seen in light, and in the light their purpose is transformed and understood. And we, God’s children, rise up from the dust and look upon our perfect sinlessness. The song of Heaven sounds around the world, as it is lifted up and brought to truth.

Now there are no distinctions. Differences have disappeared and Love looks on Itself. What further sight is needed? What remains that vision could accomplish? We have seen the face of Christ, His sinlessness, His Love behind all forms, beyond all purposes. Holy are we because His holiness has set us free indeed! And we accept His holiness as ours; as it is. As God created us so will we be forever and forever, and we wish for nothing but His Will to be our own. Illusions of another will are lost, for unity of purpose has been found.

These things await us all, but we are not prepared as yet to welcome them with joy. As long as any mind remains possessed of evil dreams, the thought of hell is real. God’s teachers have the goal of wakening the minds of those asleep, and seeing there the vision of Christ’s face to take the place of what they dream. The thought of murder is replaced with blessing. judgement is laid by, and given Him Whose function judgement is. And in His final judgement is restored the truth about the holy Son of God. He is redeemed, for he has heard God’s Word and understood its meaning. He is free because he let God’s Voice proclaim the truth. And all he sought before to crucify are resurrected with him, by his side, as he prepares with them to meet his God.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 30

Lesson 303
The holy Christ is born in me today.

Watch with me, angels, watch with me today. Let all God’s holy Thoughts surround me, and be still with me while Heaven’s Son is born. Let earthly sounds be quiet, and the sights to which I am accustomed disappear. Let Christ be welcomed where He is at home. And let Him hear the sounds He understands, and see but sights that show His Father’s Love. Let Him no longer be a stranger here, for He is born again in me today.

Your Son is welcome, Father. He has come to save me from the evil self I made. He is the Self that You have given me. He is but what I really am in truth. He is the Son You love above all things. He is my Self as You created me. It is not Christ that can be crucified. Safe in Your Arms let me receive Your Son.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #273: In the Bible it speaks of Lucifer the fallen angel. Is that a symbolic expression of our separation from God? When the Bible speaks of hell is that also another symbolic expression of our living in this nightmare on earth that we think is real?

A: Neither the Bible, nor traditional Christianity, refers to Lucifer or hell as a symbols. In Biblical terms Lucifer was the leader of the angels who refused submission to God, and hell is viewed as an actual place of punishment where those who reject God are doomed to an eternity in God’s absence. The teaching of the Bible is based on beliefs that are not similar to the principles of A Course in Miracles. Since the Course teaches that the separation never really happened (T.6.II.10), it follows that it cannot have any symbolic expression. The separation is a thought in the mind of the Sonship of something that could never occur in reality. It becomes a “reality” in our awareness when we choose to take it seriously and to believe it is real. Guilt over this choice is then projected out of the mind in the form of the physical universe, which is made to keep God out: “Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him” (W.pII.3:4). Since hell is defined as the absence of God, the world becomes hell in our experience; not a symbolic expression of it. The Course is very clear that God cannot be found in this world of form. However, when an individual chooses to identify with the part of the mind that holds the memory of God, the world becomes a reflection of that choice, and is no longer perceived as hell: “The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects” (W.249.1:5,6).

The important distinction for students of the Course to make is that because separation from God is not possible, there is no hell, there are no “fallen angels,” nor a world where God can enter not. The sick mind that believes in separation makes them real; the healed mind knows they are not.

sinless son

Who Wrote A Course in Miracles? (Part 1)

Who Wrote the Course?

Before we go into this, let’s ask again: Who wants to know? And what purpose will it serve in getting an answer to this question? In other words, what’s at stake for you here? Because your investment in whether the Course comes from Jesus or not will determine what you see. In other words, I could give you all the most persuasive reasons why the Course could not have been work of a brilliant human mind (Helen Schucman), but if you don’t want to believe that, you will find reasons not to. It will fall on deaf ears. “Believing is seeing.”

I could tell you, for example, that Mrs. Schucman was a self-professed atheist with a longstanding argument with God, not an outwardly forgiving or even friendly person by any stretch of the imagination. And she was openly resistant to writing down the messages she was receiving from a voice that called itself Jesus. Her colleague, Bill Thetford, was a witness to all of this. Was Helen just a really good actor, or did they both agree to concoct a whole story to dupe the masses? If so, why wouldn’t either of them agree to put their names on the Course, or get rich from it? What motive did they have in the whole process except for what seems to me the only plausible reason: Somehow they felt it was their responsibility to publish the Course because they knew the world needed its message.

Helen once famously replied to someone’s asking whether she felt the Course was the truth: “I know it’s all true, I just don’t believe it!” I used to think this was funny and a sign of how resistant Helen was to the Course (as we all are on some level), but I’ve lately begun to feel how honest and real Helen was. Because if we really consider what the Course is saying, it flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught to believe in a world that appears to be very real. And nearly everyone with any religious background believes that God created the world; or if you’re an agnostic or atheist, you doubt the God who created our world exists. Most of us can’t wrap our minds around a God who exists (and in fact, is the only thing that really exists), but does not have any awareness of the world of separation.

The other thing that seems so apparent once you start looking deeper into the Course is its unique, authoritative voice and internal coherency. On the surface, the work seems to contradict itself in many places, yet this is due to its being more of an artistic-poetic-holographic presentation than a strictly logical and linear one. Helen, in one rare video interview, says that she would never have written something like this, and many have wondered whether any human could. Other channeled writings speak with similar authority and clarity about elusive spiritual subjects, for example Jane Roberts’ Seth material.  So if you can accept that channeling is a real/valid phenomenon, we are then led to the next big question:

Assuming this is a channeled writing and not the product of a genius human mind, then who are the alleged “spirits” who speak through their human mouthpiece? And are they “good” or “bad”? Do they have our best interests in mind, or do they have some hidden agenda to confuse and distract us? And the question that everyone wants to know: How do we know that the entity that told Helen it was Jesus really was Jesus?

Ego or Evil, God or Devil, Christ or Anti-Christ

“A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary.
It is this experience toward which the course is directed”
(Clarification of Terms 2:5,6)

This brings us to one of the biggest issues weighing on my mind when I read the Course, namely the question of its source. Because I believe in the phenomenon of channeling, and it seems hard to deny the evidence that there is something going on. The issue is that that something, as with everything in this world, is open to debate. Fundamentalist Christians (or even just “traditionalists”) have been quick to dispense with ACIM by citing passages such as Matthew 24:4ff that ‘many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray…For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform greats signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.’ Yet, sorry guys, that seems a too easy way to eliminate the competition…

But let’s take a step back: It’s difficult to be a critical person today and not have doubts or at least questions about the authorship of the New Testament itself (let’s leave the Hebrew Bible out of this for now, but that, too!), because it is well known that gospel writers lived decades after the events that they depicted. So even if we consider the possibility that the gospel writers were themselves channeling (or “divinely inspired”), or that God somehow ordained the New Testament to take exactly its current form (and what would that be exactly?), we still have the same basic epistemological question that we have with ACIM: How do we know? Who is the S/source?

I will propose that there’s no easy answer to this question, and I would question anyone who claims to have a definitive one.

I can only tell you how I resolved this issue for myself

First, I will point again to the dubious claim to being the one true word of God that Christians have made for the New Testament, for the very reasons already mentioned, including internal contradictions in the gospel accounts, etc. It was quite challenging, given all of my reading and training in philosophy, to take the New Testament as more than a document of some of what Jesus said and did, and what that was exactly seemed very open to debate.

And yet, even with my skepticism about details, I couldn’t deny that the figure of Jesus that the gospels describe had been inspiring, not to mention highly quotable! When I discovered ACIM, I wondered: Why not? How can we limit Jesus’ gospel to just one writing? And why wouldn’t I believe just as much in a gospel coming through a reluctant atheist professor living in the heart of the Big Apple (i.e., Helen Schucman) as anywhere else? Especially when that gospel was a far more mystical, gnostic gospel that was more in line with the wisdom of the East – wisdom that I had already been deeply engaged with for years?

I can understand why traditional Christians would feel disturbed by the Course, because at least on the surface, it seems antithetical to their belief system.  To help clarify the differences, here are 10 basic points of difference between traditional Christianity and the teachings of Jesus in the Course. Please keep in mind that I am here doing my best to present this to you in as non-judgmental and non-confrontational a way as possible, and I can be forgiven if I err on either side of things here. I also do not feel that the differences are so great! This is something we will discuss, but in the meantime…

1) God is within you and everything, not utterly transcendent, but also immanent as “the Holy Spirit.”

2) God did not create the world, the belief in separation did. In other words, the world is a manifestation of the desire to have a life apart from God.

3) You are the messiah, the Christ, as much as Jesus is. The only difference is that, Jesus fully realized this. Others who have fully realized like Jesus, even if they are not “Christians” per se, are also one with the “Christ.”

4) There is and can be more than one Bible, or revealed scripture.

5) We are not inherently sinful; we are inherently sinless, innocent. Again, we are just unaware of this fact most of the time.

6) Satan is not any more ultimately real than the ego is, both are merely part of the illusion/dream of separation; the more reality/belief we give to them, the more real they are for us.  (It’s also possible to understand the devil as ego, from a Course perspective.)

7) Accepting Jesus as our savior is not enough; we must also seek what he sought, using him as our guide.

8) Only through direct experience of Perfect Love (what Jesus is) can we truly have knowledge of what it is; dogma and indirect experience are not sufficient.

9) Real forgiveness is not found by holding anything against our brother, but to recognize our oneness with him (her, or it), and that we both are in our deepest essence innocent.

10) The “Second Coming of Christ” is a shift in perception that occurs in your mind when you accept your reality as God’s Son.

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 29

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 29

27. WHAT IS DEATH?

Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end? We have asked this question before, but now we need to consider it more carefully. It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. This is regarded as “the way of nature”, not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the “natural” law of life. The cyclical, the changing and unsure; the undependable and the unsteady, waxing and waning in a certain way upon a certain path,—all this is taken as the Will of God. And no one asks if a benign Creator could will this.

In this perception of the universe as God created it, it would be impossible to think of Him as loving. For who has decreed that all things pass away, ending in dust and disappointment and despair, can but be feared. He holds your little life in his hand but by a thread, ready to break it off without regret or care, perhaps today. Or if he waits, yet is the ending certain. Who loves such a god knows not of love, because he has denied that life is real. Death has become life’s symbol. His world is now a battleground, where contradiction reigns and opposites make endless war. Where there is death is peace impossible.

Death is the symbol of the fear of God. His Love is blotted out in the idea, which holds it from awareness like a shield held up to obscure the sun. The grimness of the symbol is enough to show it cannot coexist with God. It holds an image of the Son of God in which he is “laid to rest” in devastation’s arms, where worms wait to greet him and to last a little while by his destruction. Yet the worms as well are doomed to be destroyed as certainly. And so do all things live because of death. Devouring is nature’s “law of life”. God is insane, and fear alone is real.

The curious belief that there is part of dying things that may go on apart from what will die, does not proclaim a loving God nor re-establish any grounds for trust. If death is real for anything, there is no life. Death denies life. But if there is reality in life, death is denied. No compromise in this is possible. There is either a god of fear or One of Love. The world attempts a thousand compromises, and will attempt a thousand more. Not one can be acceptable to God’s teachers, because not one could be acceptable to God. He did not make death because He did not make fear. Both are equally meaningless to Him.

The “reality” of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s Son is a body. And if God created bodies, death would indeed be real. But God would not be loving. There is no point at which the contrast between the perception of the real world and that of the world of illusions becomes more sharply evident. Death is indeed the death of God, if He is Love. And now His Own creation must stand in fear of Him. He is not Father, but destroyer. He is not Creator, but avenger. Terrible His Thoughts and fearful His image. To look on His creations is to die.

“And the last to be overcome will be death”. Of course! Without the idea of death there is no world. All dreams will end with this one. This is salvation’s final goal; the end of all illusions. And in death are all illusions born. What can be born of death and still have life? But what is born of God and still can die? The inconsistencies, the compromises and the rituals the world fosters in its vain attempts to cling to death and yet to think love real are mindless magic, ineffectual and meaningless. God is, and in Him all created things must be eternal. Do you not see that otherwise He has an opposite, and fear would be as real as love?

Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which death plays a part. Do not believe in cruelty, nor let attack conceal the truth from you. What seems to die has but been misperceived and carried to illusion. Now it becomes your task to let the illusion be carried to the truth. Be steadfast but in this; be not deceived by the “reality” of any changing form. Truth neither moves nor wavers nor sinks down to death and dissolution. And what is the end of death? Nothing but this; the realization that the Son of God is guiltless now and forever. Nothing but this. But do not let yourself forget it is not less than this.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 29

Lesson 302

Where darkness was I look upon the light.

Father, our eyes are opening at last. Your holy world awaits us, as our sight is finally restored and we can see. We thought we suffered. But we had forgot the Son whom You created. Now we see that darkness is our own imagining, and light is there for us to look upon. Christ’s vision changes darkness into light, for fear must disappear when love has come. Let me forgive Your holy world today, that I may look upon its holiness and understand it but reflects my own.

Our Love awaits us as we go to Him, and walks beside us showing us the way. He fails in nothing. He the End we seek, and He the Means by which we go to Him.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #175: The following three questions all address the issue of death and so will be answered together:

i: I would like to know more about “death solves nothing.”

ii: It is common for us to say when a person dies that he or she is finally “at peace.” Does death of the ego not release us from it’s fear based thinking and grant us peace?

iii: Would you kindly explain what A Course in Miracles teaches regarding finding peace after death?

A: Since everyone in this world suffers the excruciating pain of believing they are separated from their true Home and their Creator, there are times throughout one’s life that the thought of escape from this pain would seem to be a blessing. In this instance, death represents escape from our pain. And yet, A Course in Miracles teaches us that we are not our bodies: “The body is the symbol of what you think you are. It is clearly a separation device, and therefore does not exist (T.6.V.A.2:2,3). Therefore we need not escape from our bodies, whether they be physical, psychological, emotional, astral, etc. What we do need to escape from, however, is the thought of separation, and this is accomplished through the process of forgiveness. If the mind has not been totally healed of the thought of separation once the body “dies,” the unforgiveness that it holds will be played out in other times and other forms until forgiveness is perfected.

“When your body and your ego and your dreams are gone, you will know that you will last forever. Perhaps you think this is accomplished through death, but nothing is accomplished through death, because death is nothing” (T.6.V.A.1:1,2).

At other times, we are may believe this world to be a spiritual testing ground, and death symbolizes an end to our testing, and our ticket back Home. Or we may believe that once we die, our egos are automatically transcended, and we will be at peace. Beliefs such as this tempt one to want death to come sooner rather than later. “There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self which God created” (T.27.VII.10:2). It is important to keep in mind that the “death of the ego” does not come from the body’s death, but rather from the process of forgiveness, which only occurs within the mind. And, our bodies may die with or without completing this process.

You can see in any of this instances how we are tempted to attribute pain to our body rather than to our mind. Once we have learned where the real problem lies, the Holy Spirit can begin to use our body to teach us our true identity as a mind: “The Holy Spirit, as always, takes what you have made [the body] and translates it into a learning device….He reinterprets what the ego uses as an argument for separation into a demonstration against it (T.6.V.A.2:4,5).

So death (which is nothing) of the body (also nothing) solves nothing (the thought of separation, another nothing).

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Q #68: What happens to the mind after the demise of the body? Does the mind go home and re-join, although it never left? What happens to the ego? Where can I find this answer in the Text?

A: The answer to your questions lies in understanding the Course’s teaching on life and death, contrasted with the ego’s version. It is very important to remember that the Course refers to death as the choice in the mind to believe the ego’s definition of who we are: sinful, fearful, guilty, separated individuals imprisoned in bodies. This belief is the ego’s way of dealing a death blow to our awareness of who we really are as God’s innocent Son, and this is what the Course calls “death.” When the Course speaks of “life” it is always referring to our life in Heaven with God. “There is no life outside of Heaven” (T.23.II.19:1).

With that in mind there are several passages in the Course that address death, the mind, the body and the ego that are helpful in understanding the points you bring up. 1)The Course tells us the mind is not in the body: “It (mind) cannot make a body, nor abide within a body” (W.pI.167.6:3); “A mind and body cannot both exist. Make no attempt to reconcile the two, for one denies the other can be real. If you are physical, your mind is gone from your self- concept, for it has no place in which it could be really part of you. If you are spirit, then the body must be meaningless to your reality” (W.p.I.96.3:4,5,6,7).

Therefore there cannot be any change to the condition of the mind due to the demise of the body, nothing happens to it and it does not go anywhere. This is difficult for us to understand because most of us identify with our bodies, but it is essential to understanding the Course’s teaching. You are correct in saying that in truth the mind never left its home in Heaven, where it abides in Oneness. Our illusory experience in this dream is the result of a thought in the sleeping mind of the Son, who believes the separation actually occurred. The mind does not return home when the body dies. The mind returns home when it makes a final choice to accept the Atonement and no longer identify with the ego thought system. It thus awakens to the truth that it never left Heaven, never separated from its Source.

The ego is also not in the body; it is the thought of separation in the mind which does not change with the death of the body: “The ego is the part of the mind that believes in division” (T.5.V.3:1). The ego is not in the body but does identify with the body. We too identify with the body when we choose the ego thought system, which is why we accept the body’s experience of death and believe in its significance. With the ego we see it as “…the central dream from which all illusions stem…It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. This is regarded as ‘the way of nature,’ not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the ‘natural’ law of life” (M.27.1:1,4,5). Although the ego does not die with the demise of the body, because it is a thought in the mind, it is obsessed with death; fearing it, seeking it, using it to prove its reality and the reality of the body. It may be helpful to review “The Attraction of Death” (T.19.IV.C). Our experience in learning a new identity by questioning our beliefs of who we think we are, freeing ourselves to accept the Holy Spirit’s message of who we really are, will enable us to see the death of the body differently and open our minds to a new perception and experience of the life the Course speaks of: “When your body and your ego and your dreams are gone, you will know that you will last forever. Perhaps you think this is accomplished through death, but nothing is accomplished through death, because death is nothing. Everything is accomplished through life, and life is of the mind and in the mind. The body neither lives nor dies, because it cannot contain you who are life” (T.6.V.A.1:1, 2, 3,4).

sun of god guiltless

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 28

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 28

26. CAN GOD BE REACHED DIRECTLY?

God indeed can be reached directly, for there is no distance between Him and His Son. His awareness is in everyone’s memory, and His Word is written on everyone’s heart. Yet this awareness and this memory can arise across the threshold of recognition only where all barriers to truth have been removed. In how many is this the case? Here, then, is the role of God’s teachers. They, too, have not attained the necessary understanding as yet, but they have joined with others. This is what sets them apart from the world. And it is this that enables others to leave the world with them. Alone they are nothing. But in their joining is the power of God.

There are those who have reached God directly, retaining no trace of worldly limits and remembering their own Identity perfectly. These might be called the Teachers of teachers because, although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon. And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so. To those to whom such appearances would be frightening, they give their ideas. No one can call on them in vain. Nor is there anyone of whom they are unaware. All needs are known to them, and all mistakes are recognised and overlooked by them. The time will come when this is understood. And meanwhile, they give all their gifts to the teachers of God who look to them for help, asking all things in their Name and in no other.

Sometimes a teacher of God may have a brief experience of direct union with God. In this world, it is almost impossible that this endure. It can, perhaps, be won after much devotion and dedication, and then be maintained for much of the time on earth. But this is so rare that it cannot be considered a realistic goal. If it happens, so be it. If it does not happen, so be it as well. All worldly states must be illusory. If God were reached directly in sustained awareness, the body would not be long maintained. Those who have laid the body down merely to extend their helpfulness to those remaining behind are few indeed. And they need helpers who are still in bondage and still asleep, so that by their awakening can God’s Voice be heard.

Do not despair, then, because of limitations. It is your function to escape from them, but not to be without them. If you would be heard by those who suffer, you must speak their language. If you would be a saviour, you must understand what needs to be escaped. Salvation is not theoretical. Behold the problem, ask for the answer, and then accept it when it comes. Nor will its coming be long delayed. All the help you can accept will be provided, and not one need you have will not be met. Let us not, then, be too concerned with goals for which you are not ready. God takes you where you are and welcomes you. What more could you desire, when this is all you need?

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 28

Lesson 301

Section 9. What is the Second Coming?

Christ’s Second Coming, which is sure as God, is merely the correction of mistakes, and the return of sanity. It is a part of the condition that restores the never lost, and re-establishes what is forever and forever true. It is the invitation to God’s Word to take illusion’s place; the willingness to let forgiveness rest upon all things without exception and without reserve.

It is the all-inclusive nature of Christ’s Second Coming that permits it to embrace the world and hold you safe within its gentle advent, which encompasses all living things with you. There is no end to the release the Second Coming brings, as God’s creation must be limitless. Forgiveness lights the Second Coming’s way, because it shines on everything as one. And thus is oneness recognized at last.

The Second Coming ends the lessons that the Holy Spirit teaches, making way for the Last Judgment, in which learning ends in one last summary that will extend beyond itself, and reaches up to God. The Second Coming is the time in which all minds are given to the hands of Christ, to be returned to spirit in the name of true creation and the Will of God.

The Second Coming is the one event in time which time itself can not affect. For every one who ever came to die, or yet will come or who is present now, is equally released from what he made. In this equality is Christ restored as one Identity, in which the Sons of God acknowledge that they all are one. And God the Father smiles upon His Son, His one creation and His only joy.

Pray that the Second Coming will be soon, but do not rest with that. It needs your eyes and ears and hands and feet. It needs your voice. And most of all it needs your willingness. Let us rejoice that we can do God’s Will, and join together in its holy light. Behold, the Son of God is one in us, and we can reach our Father’s Love through Him.

Lesson 301

And God Himself shall wipe away all tears.

Father, unless I judge I cannot weep. Nor can I suffer pain, or feel I am abandoned or unneeded in the world. This is my home because I judge it not, and therefore is it only what You will. Let me today behold it uncondemned, through happy eyes forgiveness has released from all distortion. Let me see Your world instead of mine. And all the tears I shed will be forgotten, for their source is gone. Father, I will not judge Your world today.

God’s world is happy. Those who look on it can only add their joy to it, and bless it as a cause of further joy in them. We wept because we did not understand. But we have learned the world we saw was false, and we will look upon God’s world today.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

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ACIM Miracle Principle for October 28

from The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick

Principle 41

Wholeness is the perceptual content of miracles.
They thus correct, or atone for, the faulty perception of lack.
Once again, we are saying the same thing. The basic principle of the ego is the scarcity principle, that there is something missing because we have excluded God. That is where guilt comes from: the thought that there is something lacking, which makes the ego and, therefore, the body real. We see other people and ourselves as lacking; the miracle reflects for us the wholeness that is our true Identity. “Wholeness” can be equated with abundance, the denial of the ego’s scarcity principle. “Abundance” does not mean anything material, an association frequently made in what is called Prosperity Consciousness. In Prosperity Consciousness, it is typically thought that the abundance of spirit can be translated into material form: If I think abundance, then I will receive abundance. There is no question that our thoughts do influence what is outside us. This is how the whole physical world was made in the first place. But that does not make it into a spiritual principle. From the perspective of the Course, this is the mistake here. Our minds do affect the world, but this is merely a statement of the power of the mind. It is a psychic phenomenon, not a spiritual one. What makes it spiritual, as we have seen, is turning the power over to the Holy Spirit. Without His help and guidance we would merely continue to choose according to our ego’s needs, rooting us still further in this world of illusion. Thus, the miracle does not give us material things. The miracle simply undoes the defenses that were based on our belief in lack and which reinforce this scarcity principle. This process then returns our mind to its original and ongoing state of being one with God, having everything that God gave us in creation: joy, unity, freedom, happiness, etc.

Again, please do not read the word “at-one” or “at-one-ment.” At-one-ment is the state of our being in Heaven, where we are all at one with God and with each other. Atonement, however, has nothing to do with Heaven. It has to do with the state here, so if you want to use “atonement,” it would be in the sense that atonement restores to us the awareness that we are at one with God.

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #451: What is your understanding of, “And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so?”

A: The “they” referred to in the above quote from the manual for teachers are what A Course in Miracles refers to as the Teachers of teachers, those who have transcended all worldly limitations and have remembered their Identity perfectly (M.26.2:1,2). From our ego-based perspective as figures in the dream, they would seem to be other figures in the dream who have awakened, such as Jesus. However, we must remember that we are the dreamer of the dream, not the figure in the dream, and so it would be more accurate to say that such Teachers are symbols within our dream of the Answer, pure manifestations of the Holy Spirit — egoless thoughts that remind us of the truth of ourselves. The thought behind each such symbol is abstract, but the form they may appear to take will be whatever form our own mind gives to them that allows us to hear the message of correction without increasing our fear. And so, while we still believe we are separate, they will also seem to us to be separate (T.25.I.5:1), because that is what will be least threatening and most helpful to us. The form could be an intuition, an inner voice, a book, music, a person, etc. The specific form is always irrelevant to the purpose. All that matters is the message of love, which will be a reminder to ourselves to forgive, regardless of the form it appears to take.

Know Yourself

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 27

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 27

25. ARE “PSYCHIC” POWERS DESIRABLE?

The answer to this question is much like the preceding one. There are, of course, no “unnatural” powers, and it is obviously merely an appeal to magic to make up a power that does not exist. It is equally obvious, however, that each individual has many abilities of which he is unaware. As his awareness increases, he may well develop abilities that seem quite startling to him. Yet nothing he can do can compare even in the slightest with the glorious surprise of remembering Who he is. Let all his learning and all his efforts be directed toward this one great final surprise, and he will not be content to be delayed by the little ones that may come to him on the way.

Certainly there are many “psychic” powers that are clearly in line with this course. Communication is not limited to the small range of channels the world recognises. If it were, there would be little point in trying to teach salvation. It would be impossible to do so. The limits the world places on communication are the chief barriers to direct experience of the Holy Spirit, Whose Presence is always there and Whose Voice is available but for the hearing. These limits are placed out of fear, for without them the walls that surround all the separate places of the world would fall at the holy sound of His Voice. Who transcends these limits in any way is merely becoming more natural. He is doing nothing special, and there is no magic in his accomplishments.

The seemingly new abilities that may be gathered on the way can be very helpful. Given to the Holy Spirit, and used under His direction, they are valuable teaching aids. To this, the question of how they arise is irrelevant. The only important consideration is how they are used. Taking them as ends in themselves, no matter how this is done, will delay progress. Nor does their value lie in proving anything; achievements from the past, unusual attunement with the “unseen”, or “special” favours from God. God gives no special favours, and no one has any powers that are not available to everyone. Only by tricks of magic are special powers “demonstrated”.

Nothing that is genuine is used to deceive. The Holy Spirit is incapable of deception, and He can use only genuine abilities. What is used for magic is useless to Him. But what He uses cannot be used for magic. There is, however, a particular appeal in unusual abilities that can be curiously tempting. Here are strengths which the Holy Spirit wants and needs. Yet the ego sees in these same strengths an opportunity to glorify itself. Strengths turned to weakness are tragedy indeed. Yet what is not given to the Holy Spirit must be given to weakness, for what is withheld from love is given to fear, and will be fearful in consequence.

Even those who no longer value the material things of the world may still be deceived by “psychic” powers. As investment has been withdrawn from the world’s material gifts, the ego has been seriously threatened. It may still be strong enough to rally under this new temptation to win back strength by guile. Many have not seen through the ego’s defenses here, although they are not particularly subtle. Yet, given a remaining wish to be deceived, deception is made easy. Now the “power” is no longer a genuine ability, and cannot be used dependably. It is almost inevitable that, unless the individual changes his mind about its purpose, he will bolster his “power’s” uncertainties with increasing deception.

Any ability that anyone develops has the potentiality for good. To this there is no exception. And the more unusual and unexpected the power, the greater its potential usefulness. Salvation has need of all abilities, for what the world would destroy the Holy Spirit would restore. “Psychic” abilities have been used to call upon the devil, which merely means to strengthen the ego. Yet here is also a great channel of hope and healing in the Holy Spirit’s service. Those who have developed “psychic” powers have simply let some of the limitations they laid upon their minds be lifted. It can be but further limitations they lay upon themselves if they utilise their increased freedom for greater imprisonment. The Holy Spirit needs these gifts, and those who offer them to Him and Him alone go with Christ’s gratitude upon their hearts, and His holy sight not far behind.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 27

Lesson 300

Only an instant does this world endure.

This is a thought which can be used to say that death and sorrow are the certain lot of all who come here, for their joys are gone before they are possessed, or even grasped. Yet this is also the idea that lets no false perception keep us in its hold, nor represent more than a passing cloud upon a sky eternally serene. And it is this serenity we seek, unclouded, obvious and sure, today.

We seek Your holy world today. For we, Your loving Sons, have lost our way a while. But we have listened to Your Voice, and learned exactly what to do to be restored to Heaven and our true Identity. And we give thanks today the world endures but for an instant. We would go beyond that tiny instant to eternity.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #589: Before A Course in Miracles, I thought that psychic powers or abilities were spiritual gifts from God and that the good people used them for good things and the bad people used them for evil. The discussion in the teachers manual gives me more understanding but I still have some questions. Can you explain what exactly are psychic powers and how they work in relationship to our split mind and the body? And if someone is aware of having psychic abilities, how is it best to use them? I have a few psychic abilities and the Course says these are strengths the Holy Spirit wants and needs. I think I understand the ego traps one could fall into but could you give me some suggestions or examples of how one could use psychic powers for a holy purpose?

A: If you remember that the Course says we are mind, existing outside of time and space, and that all minds are joined, or are seeming fragments of the one split mind, psychic powers lose some of their mystery. The only reason we think they are so special is because we mistakenly believe we are bodies, part of the ego’s clever plan to keep us mindless (T.20.VI.11:1,2,3). Time and space are illusory constructs of the split mind that have been projected into an illusory world of form to keep us unaware of our minds and focused on the world and our bodies instead (T.1.VI.3:4,5,6; T.26.VIII.1:3,4,5).

Most psychic abilities involve accessing information that seems to be at a distance from where we see ourselves in time and space. But since time is not truly linear and everything in the split mind actually exists simultaneously (T.26.V.3:3,4,5,6,7), everything that has happened, seems to be happening now, or could happen in the future, is potentially available to each seemingly separate fragment. It is only a decision of each individual mind, often based on fear, that keeps all the information in the split mind from being accessible.

The body and the brain have nothing to do with psychic powers, since they themselves are nothing but the projected images of the split mind. Information about bodies — past, present and future, dead or alive, born or unborn — is simply information about the images contained in the holographic mind, whether or not they appear to be projected into the world of form at any particular point in time and space (T.28.I.5:3,4,5,6,7,8,9). The mind is holographic in the sense that the whole is contained in each part. So then, reading past lives, talking to dead friends, relatives, and spirit guides, predicting the future (always a probabilistic venture since there are always options at the level of form from which the mind can choose), having awareness of what exists or is happening at locations at a distance or invisible to the eyes, are all easily understood once we recognize the holographic nature of the mind.

Other less common psychic powers, such as psychic healing and altering things physically within the dimensions of time and space, that seem to “defy physical laws,” simply involve the ability of the mind to access and project changes in projected images in the hologram without seeming to follow the conventional “law of cause and effect” in the world, which is illusory anyway (T.28.I.6:1,2,3,4). For it is always a decision at the level of the mind and not anything in the world that leads to changes in the world, but most of us are not in touch with that ego-based choice in the mind. If we easily allowed ourselves to recognize the power that rests in the mind, the world would soon lose its value as a defense, for we cannot be victims of a world that our minds control (M.5.II.1,3). And the ego’s only but hidden purpose for the world and the body is to convince us that our pain does not come from a choice for separation in our mind but rather from a world over which we have no control, which victimizes us despite our best efforts as bodies to protect ourselves.

So all psychic powers are ego-based, but we keep most of them out of conscious awareness because of their potential for challenging our belief in the reality of the illusion. The ego warns us of the dangers of psychic powers because its goal is to keep us mindless. But even if we discover we have such abilities, the ego will gladly provide interpretations of their “special” value that can minimize our recognition of what they mean about the mind so that we use them instead to reinforce our belief in magic, differences and specialness, as if they are special gifts divinely “conferred” on the special ones, as you once believed.

A psychic power has been given to the Holy Spirit for His use when we do not decide ourselves how it should be used. Anything that can help us to expand our perspective beyond the limited time/space dimension we seem to be restricted to as bodies can be helpful, provided we use it as a means and not an end in itself (M.25.3:5), as the ego would have us do, for then it becomes an object of specialness. As Jesus observes in the section on psychic powers you refer to: “Communication is not limited to the small range of channels the world recognizes. … The limits the world places on communication are the chief barriers to direct experience of the Holy Spirit, Whose Presence is always there and Whose Voice is available but for the hearing. These limits are placed out of fear, for without them the walls that surround all the separate places of the world would fall at the holy sound of His Voice. Who transcends these limits in any way is merely becoming more natural. He is doing nothing special, and there is no magic in his accomplishments” (M.25.2:2,5,6,7,8).

The only way to be confident that we have offered such abilities to the Holy Spirit — as with any talents we may possess — is first to be honest with ourselves about the ego-based reasons we personally would seek to display them. These could include accessing information to enable you to get what you want for yourself, impressing others with your spirituality, offering help to others for their problems as you perceive them, and so on. When you can identify your ego investments, you are in a position to release them and will also be more likely to recognize them when they may once again tempt you to seek after specialness.

Any examples of the right-minded use of psychic powers must necessarily focus on the purpose and not the specific situation, since it is only ever the purpose that makes anything holy. And so a word of caution — if you think you know specifically the purpose of what you may find yourself doing or saying, there is a good chance that your ego has stepped in and is directing the process. And that is not a sin, but it is not likely to be truly helpful to yourself or to anyone else.

And so sharing insights about someone’s past lives could help them release a judgment they may be holding onto in the present against themselves or someone they know. Providing information from a deceased family member may allow someone to know that they are not being condemned for something they did or failed to do. Anything that facilitates the process of forgiveness — and you may have no idea yourself what that might be and in most cases would not — would reflect having offered a power to the Holy Spirit for His use. Similarly, anything that allows someone not to take this life and the world quite so seriously or to recognize shared rather than separate interests, would be serving the Holy Spirit’s purpose of helping us to awaken from the dream of separation and sin.

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Q #644: Could you comment on psychic powers? If someone says they are asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit, are they always right or can what they predict be changed? How can someone predict something years prior to it happening? And can what they predict be changed? For example: a psychic predicts that your child would become ill, or your marriage will end or even on a positive note, you will finally meet your dream person and get married. I have friends that really believe in what these people say because what they say comes true. How can I become my own reliable source to questions I refer to the Holy Spirit?

A: A good rule of thumb to follow is that when you receive specific answers, such as the ones in your example, you should be suspicious. In general, the Holy Spirit does not answer in specifics, primarily because He is trying to help us move beyond the specifics of the ego’s world to the contents in our mind. Our decision to believe that the contents in our wrong mind (separation, sin, guilt, fear) are the truth, is the real problem. Our personal problems in the world are all smokescreens intended to keep us away from our mind so we will remain forever wedded to the ego thought system, without ever knowing that that ongoing decision is the real source of our unhappiness and lack of peace. So your asking for help of the Holy Spirit should be in the context of your desire to look at the contents in your mind that are the cause of all your seeming problems in the world. “The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand, and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within. He brings all your insane projections . . . that you have placed outside you to the truth. Thus He reverses the course of insanity and restores you to reason” (T.18.I.8:3,4,5). A very helpful explanation of the roles of Jesus and the Holy Spirit can be found in chapters 4 and 5 in Few Choose to Listen, Volume Two of Kenneth’s book, The Message of A Course in Miracles.

We can provide only a brief response to your question about psychic phenomena. The topic of time raises complex issues, which have been addressed at length in some of our publications — especially Kenneth’s book, A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles. Briefly, then, within our dream of separation, Jesus tells us that time is not linear, even though that is how we experience it, owing to the ego’s strategy of convincing us of the reality of sin (the past), guilt (the present), and fear (the future). Every conceivable form of separation already exists, as if in a video-tape library, to use one of the analogies in Kenneth’s book. We (our decision-making mind outside time and space) have access to all of them all the time (pardon the pun). So “prediction” amounts simply to the mind’s choice to view a particular video tape. This is understandable, again, only if time is viewed as holographic, not linear.

Now, the contents of the tapes do not change; but there exists another library, the Holy Spirit’s corrected version of the ego’s script, to which we also have unlimited access. Thus, to choose one of these tapes is to choose His interpretation of the events in our lives. That is what can change, not the ego’s script. In other words, guilt demands punishment, and so many things would happen in our lives that express (by our own choice) our belief that we deserve to be punished for our sinfulness and that we are unworthy of a peaceful, happy life. If, however, we call that belief into question and choose Jesus or the Holy Spirit as our Teacher, then our choice of video would be from the “corrected script” of the Holy Spirit. The need to experience victimization would have changed, and we would then not have victimization experiences at all, or we would go through them peacefully, knowing that our true self is not defined or affected by what goes on in the body or the world. Jesus is our model for that shift: he did not perceive or experience himself as a persecuted victim even though his body had been nailed to a cross.

What would help the most is to keep in mind is that it is not the psychic ability per se that is important, but rather the purpose that it serves. Jesus reminds us again and again that we have but one purpose, and that is forgiveness, or undoing the blocks to our awareness of love’s presence in our minds. If you can keep that as your primary objective, you will recognize and then not be led astray by the ego’s use of psychic ability, which is always to reinforce our sense of specialness and to make the world of time and space real.

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Q #1014: I have had psychic experiences and never paid much attention to them until now. I am trying to understand what they were for. Is it the contention of A Course in Miracles that there are no coincidences — that we get exactly what we ask for, and in this sense there are no victims and victimizers on the level of form? Is it also true that everything that seems to be given by another on the level of form — “good” or “bad” — we have asked for consciously or not, and therefore it is no coincidence that it shows up? Their ego takes it and gives you exactly what you asked for and you do the same in turn?

A: The Course tells us that we are always “reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.4:5) . It seems as if we are experiencing everything for the first time and that the thoughts in our minds are our own private thoughts. But this is only because we have chosen to identify with the ego’s thought system that rests on the premise that separation and time and space are real. Keeping in mind that this is all an illusion, the Course explains that at the moment the separation from God seemed to happen, every conceivable form of separation spun out from that thought, and simultaneously the correction for each of those thoughts also spun out. The separation seemed to occur and was undone in the same instant. Not that we can understand any of this in our present state! So, in this framework, there are no coincidences and nothing happens by chance — everything has already happened. And as decision-making minds we are choosing which part of the “script” we shall revisit, or to use the analogy of a video-tape library, we are choosing which tape to watch. Everything is on the tapes already; we choose what we are going to watch.

The point of the teaching and mind-training exercises in A Course in Miracles is for us to learn how to bring into our awareness our decision-making capacity, so that we will realize what our lives are all about. Realizing that we are minds, we can then continue to choose the ego’s version of the truth, or switch our allegiance and choose the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness that will eventually return our minds to their natural state of undifferentiated oneness in God.

Jesus discusses psychic powers in the manual for teachers (M.25) . He talks about them in the context of the communication levels necessary for the process of salvation: “Communication is not limited to the small range of channels the world recognizes. If it were, there would be little point in trying to teach salvation. It would be impossible to do so. The limits the world places on communication are the chief barriers to direct experience of the Holy Spirit . . . .” (M.25.2:2,3,4,5). These limits are a consequence of the separated mind’s intention to block out anything that would remind it of the illusory nature of its existence. Thus, Jesus goes on to explain that the relevance of psychic abilities lies in the purpose for which they are used: as part of the ego’s plan or the Holy Spirit’s undoing of that plan. We have discussed different aspects of these issues in questions 589, 644, and 682, which you might find of interest.

sun of god guiltless

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 26

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 26

24. IS REINCARNATION SO?

In the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth in a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense. Our only question should be, “Is the concept helpful”? And that depends, of course, on what it is used for. If it is used to strengthen the recognition of the eternal nature of life, it is helpful indeed. Is any other question about it really useful in lighting up the way? Like many other beliefs, it can be bitterly misused. At least, such misuse offers preoccupation and perhaps pride in the past. At worst, it induces inertia in the present. In between, many kinds of folly are possible.

Reincarnation would not, under any circumstances, be the problem to be dealt with now. If it were responsible for some of the difficulties the individual faces now, his task would still be only to escape from them now. If he is laying the groundwork for a future life, he can still work out his salvation only now. To some, there may be comfort in the concept, and if it heartens them its value is self-evident. It is certain, however, that the way to salvation can be found by those who believe in reincarnation and by those who do not. The idea cannot, therefore, be regarded as essential to the curriculum. There is always some risk in seeing the present in terms of the past. There is always some good in any thought which strengthens the idea that life and the body are not the same.

For our purposes, it would not be helpful to take any definite stand on reincarnation. A teacher of God should be as helpful to those who believe in it as to those who do not. If a definite stand were required of him, it would merely limit his usefulness, as well as his own decision-making. Our course is not concerned with any concept that is not acceptable to anyone, regardless of his formal beliefs. His ego will be enough for him to cope with, and it is not the part of wisdom to add sectarian controversies to his burdens. Nor would there be an advantage in his premature acceptance of the course merely because it advocates a long-held belief of his own.

It cannot be too strongly emphasised that this course aims at a complete reversal of thought. When this is finally accomplished, issues such as the validity of reincarnation become meaningless. Until then, they are likely to be merely controversial. The teacher of God is, therefore, wise to step away from all such questions, for he has much to teach and learn apart from them. He should both learn and teach that theoretical issues but waste time, draining it away from its appointed purpose. If there are aspects to any concept or belief that will be helpful, he will be told about it. He will also be told how to use it. What more need he know?

Does this mean that the teacher of God should not believe in reincarnation himself, or discuss it with others who do? The answer is, certainly not! If he does believe in reincarnation, it would be a mistake for him to renounce the belief unless his internal Teacher so advised. And this is most unlikely. He might be advised that he is misusing the belief in some way that is detrimental to his pupil’s advance or his own. Reinterpretation would then be recommended, because it is necessary. All that must be recognised, however, is that birth was not the beginning, and death is not the end. Yet even this much is not required of the beginner. He need merely accept the idea that what he knows is not necessarily all there is to learn. His journey has begun.

The emphasis of this course always remains the same;—it is at this moment that complete salvation is offered you, and it is at this moment that you can accept it. This is still your one responsibility. Atonement might be equated with total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future. Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time. No teaching that does not lead to this is of concern to God’s teachers. All beliefs will point to this if properly interpreted. In this sense, it can be said that their truth lies in their usefulness. All beliefs that lead to progress should be honoured. This is the sole criterion this course requires. No more than this is necessary.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 26

Lesson 299

Eternal holiness abides in me.

My holiness is far beyond my own ability to understand or know. Yet God, my Father, Who created it, acknowledges my holiness as His. Our Will, together, understands it. And Our Will, together, knows that it is so.

Father, my holiness is not of me. It is not mine to be destroyed by sin. It is not mine to suffer from attack. Illusions can obscure it, but can not put out its radiance, nor dim its light. It stands forever perfect and untouched. In it are all things healed, for they remain as You created them. And I can know my holiness. For Holiness Itself created me, and I can know my Source because it is Your Will that You be known.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #24: A Course in Miracles seems to allude to reincarnation. If we truly don’t die but instead just “lay this body” down, do we return in another or continue our lessons on another level?

A: Yes, in the Course, Jesus does seem to allude to reincarnation. But to understand what he is saying, and to address your question, we need to remember that in the Course, he is always speaking to us on the level of the mind, which is the only level where any true learning takes place. And specifically, he’s talking to that part of our mind which has to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit, between hate and love, between death and life.

“But remember that understanding is of the mind, and only of the mind” (T.15.VI.7:5).

He tells us in the Course that this “life” is a dream, that the world is an illusion, that the body doesn’t die because the body doesn’t live (T.19.IV.C.5:2,3,4,5), and that our experience of time is simply a part of that illusion. Our “dream” always and only reflects the choice that we have made for either the ego’s purpose to reinforce our guilt and belief in separation, or the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness and undoing the belief in separation. Therefore, the form of the dream never matters, and when that form changes, the learning, or choosing, continues in the mind.

So when reading a passage that seems to imply reincarnation we could understand it not only on the level of our experience within the dream, but also as the idea of revisiting unforgivenesses. Perhaps it would be helpful to think of “simultaneous” dreams, or to use the model of a hologram where the whole is found in every part. When the mind “revisits” dreams or aspects of the hologram, this could be seen as experiencing different “lifetimes.”

Jesus tells us in the manual that a belief in the concept of reincarnation is not a requirement for his Course. In fact, he says that it is only valuable to the extent to which it is “helpful” or of comfort to his students.

“In the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth into a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense” (M.24.1:1,2,3).

“Reincarnation would not, under any circumstances, be the problem to be dealt with now. It is certain, however, that the way to salvation can be found by those who believe in reincarnation and by those who do not. The idea cannot, therefore, be regarded as essential to the curriculum. There is always some risk in seeing the present in terms of the past. There is always some good in any thought which strengthens the idea that life and the body are not the same” (M.24.2:1,5,6,7,8).

When we can accept the fact that time is not linear, the concept of reincarnation becomes meaningless. But, as long as we believe we are separate individuals, the lessons continue in whatever form we can accept and understand until we truly learn that our reality is spirit and we have always been “…at home in God, [only] dreaming of exile” (T.10.I.2:1). In that acceptance of the Atonement for ourselves, all dreaming ends.

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Q #94: The Course alludes to reincarnation. Can you develop this in more detail? I am 67 years old and running out of time to learn forgiveness. I would certainly like to learn it in this lifetime because I’ll be darned if I want to go through this world again if I don’t have to. I wish we had the option to go poof from this world into the arms of God. I say I want the peace of God but obviously I don’t because I don’t have the peace of God. So I sometimes wish the option existed for people like me who profess a willingness to change to push a button and just make it happen. Then I could push it and learn forgiveness in spite of my “good intentions”. Sometimes I think my whole problem is that instead of being grateful to God for my creation I resented being created because God was more than I. I know that sounds ridiculous but I have to learn otherwise.

A: So many jerks to forgive, so little time! But that’s just your ego speaking — things don’t really work as you’re supposing. And worrying that you won’t learn forgiveness in this lifetime only keeps you trapped that much longer in the illusion of it all. Since forgiveness happens in the mind outside of time and space, it does not depend on time or space for your progress (e.g., T.15.I.9; T.26.VIII.6:1,2,3,4,5). It depends only on your willingness (in the mind) to practice the lessons of forgiveness as your external world seems to present them to you now, one by one. But to do that, you must understand what forgiveness is and what the purpose of the world is.

Resistance to the world only reinforces your belief that the world is real and that it is the source of all the problems that are upsetting you. The Course’s goal is not to teach us how to escape the world but rather how to escape the thought system buried in the mind that convinces us that we want and need the world and all its victimizers to be real. The world provides us an excuse to keep our focus outside our mind, blaming others for our loss of peace rather than looking at the guilt in our own mind which is the real cause. The world is quite literally the projection of the guilt hidden in our mind (T.20.VIII.9), so seeking to escape the world only plays into the ego’s plan to have us look in the wrong place for the problem and its solution (T.27.IV).

And so, since you are not really here in the world even now, it would be more helpful to focus on the choice in your mind right now for the ego than to concern yourself about possible future (or past) lives, for that only serves the ego purpose of avoiding the present moment, the only time in which forgiveness can happen (M.24.5:6). But if you’d like a further discussion of reincarnation as presented in the Course, you may wish to look at Question #24.

Sincere as it may seem, wanting a button to push that would impose forgiveness on your mind is really just a way of trying to avoid responsibility for your present condition, of not looking at the choice you are making right now to be upset and in pain. In truth, forgiveness is the button you could push or select right now, but you don’t really want to, and that’s what you want to get more in touch with — and why. Your thought about resenting God for being more than you — what the Course calls the authority problem (T.11.in.2:3) — is the kind of awareness that it would be helpful to develop further, for it is playing out in your life right now in your relationships here, a shadow of the real guilt which is hidden in the recesses of your mind.

As an antidote to your impatience with yourself, Jesus’ words on forgiveness provide a gentle reminder: “Forgiveness…is still, and quietly does nothing…It merely looks, and waits, and judges not” (W.pII.1.4:1,3).

sunburst eternity

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson for October 25

ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 25

23. DOES JESUS HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN HEALING?

God’s gifts can rarely be received directly. Even the most advanced of God’s teachers will give way to temptation in this world. Would it be fair if their pupils were denied healing because of this? The Bible says, “Ask in the Name of Jesus Christ”. Is this merely an appeal to magic? A name does not heal, nor does an invocation call forth any special power. What does it mean to call on Jesus Christ? What does calling on his Name confer? Why is the appeal to him part of healing?

We have repeatedly said that one who has perfectly accepted the Atonement for himself can heal the world. Indeed, he has already done so. Temptation may recur to others, but never to this One. He has become the risen Son of God. He has overcome death because he has accepted Life. He has recognised himself as God created him, and in so doing he has recognised all living things as part of him. There is now no limit on his power, because it is the Power of God. So has his name become the Name of God, for he no longer sees himself as separate from Him.

What does this mean for you? It means that in remembering Jesus you are remembering God. The whole relationship of the Son to the Father lies in him. His part in the Sonship is also yours, and his completed learning guarantees your own success. Is he still available for help? What did he say about this? Remember his promises, and ask yourself honestly whether it is likely that he will fail to keep them. Can God fail His Son? And can one who is one with God be unlike Him? Who transcends the body has transcended limitation. Would the greatest teacher be unavailable to those who follow him?

The Name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol. But it stands for love that is not of this world. It is a symbol that is safely used as a replacement for the many names of all the gods to which you pray. It becomes the shining symbol for the Word of God, so close to what it stands for that the little space between the two is lost, the moment that the Name is called to mind. Remembering the Name of Jesus Christ is to give thanks for all the gifts that God has given you. And gratitude to God becomes the way in which He is remembered, for love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and thankful mind. God enters easily, for these are the true conditions for your homecoming.

Jesus has led the way. Why would you not be grateful to him? He has asked for love, but only that he might give it to you. You do not love yourself. But in his eyes your loveliness is so complete and flawless that he sees in it an image of his Father. You become the symbol of his Father here on earth. To you he looks for hope, because in you he sees no limit and no stain to mar your beautiful perfection. In his eyes Christ’s vision shines in perfect constancy. He has remained with you. Would you not learn the lesson of salvation through his learning? Why would you choose to start again, when he has made the journey for you?

No one on earth can grasp what Heaven is, or what its one Creator really means. Yet we have witnesses. It is to them that wisdom should appeal. There have been those whose learning far exceeds what we can learn. Nor would we teach the limitations we have laid on us. No one who has become a true and dedicated teacher of God forgets his brothers. Yet what he can offer them is limited by what he learns himself. Then turn to one who laid all limits by, and went beyond the farthest reach of learning. He will take you with him, for he did not go alone. And you were with him then, as you are now.

This course has come from him because his words have reached you in a language you can love and understand. Are other teachers possible, to lead the way to those who speak in different tongues and appeal to different symbols? Certainly there are. Would God leave anyone without a very present help in time of trouble; a saviour who can symbolise Himself? Yet do we need a many-faceted curriculum, not because of content differences, but because symbols must shift and change to suit the need. Jesus has come to answer yours. In him you find God’s Answer. Do you, then, teach with him, for he is with you; he is always here.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 25

Lesson 298
I love You, Father, and I love Your Son.

My gratitude permits my love to be accepted without fear. And thus am I restored to my reality at last. All that intruded on my holy sight forgiveness takes away. And I draw near the end of senseless journeys, mad careers and artificial values. I accept instead what God establishes as mine, sure that in that alone I will be saved; sure that I go through fear to meet my Love.

Father, I come to You today, because I would not follow any way but Yours. You are beside me. Certain is Your way. And I am grateful for Your holy gifts of certain sanctuary, and escape from everything that would obscure my love for God my Father and His holy Son.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #626: In the manual for teachers of A Course in Miracles we are told, “the name of Jesus Christ as such is but a symbol” (M.23.4:1). Why isn’t it revealed earlier in the text that Jesus is purely symbolic in the curriculum? The Course truly takes on a different meaning when one realizes that Jesus’ role in the Course is purely symbolic.

A: The simple answer to your question is that the statement indicates the name is a symbol, reflecting the earlier statement in the manual that “words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality” (M.21.1:9,10). The statement can also be understood on a deeper level, where Jesus is seen as a symbol of love, just as we are symbols of the ego’s thought system of separation. On that level, everything is a symbol, since everything is taking place in a mind that believes it exists outside the perfect Oneness of God, the only reality, for which there is no symbol and which is “ultimately known without a form, unpictured and unseen” (T.27.III.5:2).

There are not real, separate entities existing in a physical cosmos, even though that is what our senses tell us. Lesson 184 begins by saying, “You live by symbols. You have made up names for everything you see. Each one becomes a separate entity, identified by its own name. By this you carve it out of unity” (W.pI.184.1:1,2,3,4). Jesus is addressing the decision-making mind outside time and space, as he always does in the Course. Yet, in that same lesson he makes it clear that he is not expecting us to go beyond all symbols; but he also cautions us not to be deceived by the symbols of the world: “They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand, but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found” (W.pI.184.9:4,5).

“Jesus,” then, is a symbol, not of the world of separation, but of the real world of love and unity. As we identify more and more with the mind and less and less with the body, we will be better able to relate to this. In the meantime, we should go right on relating to him and ourselves as individuals as long as that is our experience, keeping in mind, however, what he is teaching in this lesson in particular. He is teaching us how to use the names of things in the world to get beyond them to the “one Name, one meaning, and a single Source which unifies all things within Itself” (11:3). Our starting point, which will take us a long way, is to ask help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit to see beyond the separate, competing interests that divide us to the common purpose we all share of restoring to our awareness our unity as God’s one Son. This process of forgiveness is wonderfully described in the section in the text called “Beyond All Symbols” (T.27.III). Also, Chapter 17 in Kenneth’s book, Absence from Felicity, explains Helen Schucman’s experience of Jesus on these two levels. It helps to resolve the confusion that practically all students run into when they begin to deal with this aspect of the Course.

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Q #472: I am having a very difficult time practicing forgiveness as A Course in Miracles teaches. I have gone back and re-read the questions that have to do with forgiveness and I understand that the reason I am having a difficult time is that I am unhappy. I keep on asking for help to let go of these angry feelings, but my mind goes back to a certain person and I begin to feel angry again. I really want to let it go and stop thinking about the situation and the person.

A: It is not helpful, nor gentle, to try to force yourself to stop thinking about something, or to stop being angry. “Do not fight yourself” Jesus reminds us (T.30.I.1:7) in his characteristically gentle way of guiding us. You would be making progress if you were to say, simply and honestly, that you refuse to forgive this person, and then to forgive yourself for not wanting to forgive, knowing that Jesus loves you no less. Just accept where you are right now without making it into a big issue. The ego will try to get you one way or another; and one of its favorite tactics is to encourage you to beat up on yourself when you find forgiveness impossible. The end result of that is that the ego stays in business, and you remain in conflict. One day the cost to you of holding on to the grievance will be painful enough to motivate you to consider letting go. And even then you need not let it go; you need only consider how much more peaceful you would feel if you did. The ego will throw up all kinds of reasons to justify your continuing to condemn the other person; but in the end your attraction to the love and peace of Jesus’ presence will allow that grievance to simply melt away. And you will be thankful to see how wrong you have been in blaming this other person and yourself. You will be at peace.

awake & remember

Some Thoughts on Leela, “the Play of God”

Someone Caught God Playing With Herself

or,

Thoughts on Leela ~ “The Play of God”

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Dedicated with Love to our Prince George Yoga Tribe, Thank You Beautiful Souls! ❤

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tad ekam sat vipram bahudha vadanti
“Truth is one, yet even the sages call it by many names.”
~ Rig Veda
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Who really knows, and who can swear,
How creation came, when or where!
Even gods came after creation’s day,
Who really knows, who can truly say
When and how did creation start?
Did He do it? Or did He not?
Only He, up there, knows, maybe;
Or perhaps, not even He…
~ Rig Veda 10.129

These amazing passages from one of the oldest and most sacred of the world’s scriptures express something that attracted me from the very beginning of my love affair with yoga about India and the Hindu yoga tradition, namely, it’s open-endedness and absence of dogma.  This has translated into Hinduism’s great tolerance for even seemingly contradictory ideas.

This tolerance and flexibility, if you will, can be seen in the fact that there is no one founder of Hinduism (such as a Moses, Buddha, Jesus or Muhammed), and no one scripture that is considered to be the sole authoritative one (even the Holy Vedas are not).  Rather, there are many Hinduisms, many yoga schools, and many saints, sages, swamis, and gurus with their respective schools and lineages.   The idea, as expressed in the Vedic hymn (above), is that there are many ways to get there, numerous trails up the mountain, something for everyone in the smorgasborg of spirituality laid before us to partake.   But at the end of the day, there is only one place to go…

Truth is One, paths are many,”

said the late Swami Satchidananda, echoing the ancient Vedic dictum.

      And thus, when the student is ready for a particular teaching, the teaching will appear in some form or another, and the form itself ultimately does not matter.  And when that lesson is learned –or rather, embodied — then the next, deeper teaching will present itself to the seeker, and then the next, and the next…  At least in theory, this will go on and on until there is Nothing more to learn and Nowhere (Now Here) to go, in other words, until the point of “enlightenment” — a point to be considered in due time!

Since we’re on the subject of Creation stories… In the Hasidic tradition, there is a beautiful quote that runs,

             “God created the world because God loves stories.” 

     Whether this is at all true is also something that will be touched on here, yet I at least love stories, you?

Well, here’s a wee little one…

I believe Freud is to be credited with the observation that when we’re young, our parents are like gods to us, and up until a certain age, we treat them as such, becoming chips off the old blocks, so to speak.   When I was eleven years old, my parents went through what I experienced to be a painful separation.  Painful because the fairytale was over for me, the Queen banished forever from the King’s Castle, and my hot air ballooning sense that we would be one happy family forever deflated quite abruptly and decidedly.

So one day, a few years later after the Queen’s exile…

I was over at my dad’s house when my mom happened to call and start to berate me for something, related to the fact that I was with my dad and she didn’t like that (this happened often enough at that time).  My dad overheard some of what was happening with me and my mom there on the phone and he said something that I still have not forgotten to this day, partly because it was a little out of character for him, I thought:

                                                           “Tell her you didn’t ask to be born.”  

He said it facetiously, like to get her off my back, yet this was an idea that I had already begun to really ponder and vibe with, namely, the feeling that I could let go of all feelings of guilt and judgment because hey, I didn’t ask for this life, it was just thrust upon me (Gee, thanks, mom! )

If so, why was everyone on my case about everything?  Why this big heap of guilt and judgment all the time?  Sheeshkabob!

Of course, I could have said the same thing to my Dad when he was giving me a hard time about something.  This is all your fault, bro, lay off!

[btw, Bill Cosby, one of my favorite comedians but who has been drawn and quartered of late, has drawn much comic material from his own childhood and has a new book out called “I Didn’t Ask to Be Born (But I’m Glad I Was)“]

I do believe this idea of not asking to be born, if taken to its extreme, contains a very strong kernel of truth. On the one hand, from the standpoint of reincarnation (which I do believe is true in a relative sense), we did in fact ask to be born. We even planned it all out and wrote the whole bloody script, even down to who was going to be in our family, core group of friends, etc.  So we’re not off the hook that easy! And to bring the above story to a close, I never got off the hook with either of my parents that easy, either!

On a still deeper root level, though, the question arises:

Who, or what, is this “I” personality that seems to keep reincarnating lifetime after lifetime after lifetime, how did that happen?

Was that something that “I” asked for?  And again: Who, or what, is this “I”?

    Who the heck Am I anyway?

    Recently I’ve gotten very much into A Course in Miracles, recognizing it to be the next big thing in the unfolding of my own spiritual journey.  I’m noticing that a lot of other people are waking up to the profundity of this work, too. Another little story…

So I’d been living on Maui and happen to be of the Mosaic persuasion (i.e., I’m Jewish by birth — did i sign up for that, too?) and even though I didn’t make it, I heard that there was this great rabbi here who was flown in to lead Yom Kippur (aka, the “Day of Atonement” – the “holiest” day of the year on the Jewish calendar) services.  This rabbi was not traditional in the sense that he didn’t stick solely to the Torah, Talmud, and other Jewish sources.  He was just as much at home quoting Rumi, the Tao Te Ching, and guess who… our old messianic and similarly unorthodox friend, Jesus, who is the stated voice that dictated A Course in Miracles (aka “The Course”) to Helen Shuchman nearly 50 years ago now.

So I was told, the rabbi began his sermon with the opening words of the Course:

Nothing real can be threatened.

Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.

     Wow, a rabbi on Yom Kippur quoting the words of Jesus as channeled by an atheistic Jewish psychology professor in the heart of the Big Apple some 5 decades ago (!)  Surely a sign o’ the times, which perhaps could be described as “post-traditional,” a time when the best of the world’s spiritual traditions are being brought together all on one buffet table, much as your Whole Foods superfoods section contains the most superb foods from various tradtional cultures around the globe.

Yet back to the main point, which is how A Course in Miracles views the Creator’s creation of the world.

Essentially, it never happened.

Really?  Yes, really.

    As the opening salvo of the rabbi’s sermon above indicates, if only God is real, and the world of impermanence that we feel to be so real is in reality not real, then how could God have created this world?  Why would, and how could, what is Real create what is false?

As the poet-sage of the Rig Veda humbly admits, he didn’t really have a clue either, but he was pretty damn sure it was a toss up between 2 possibilities: Either God did it, or God didn’t!  Pretty brilliant, no?  Hey, anyone’s got a 50-50 chance of getting that one! They didn’t call ’em sages for nothin’!

So later, it seems, some of these wiseacre sages got cleverer about how to answer this whole question.

God didn’t create the world, actually, but somehow it still came from God.

Whaaaaa?

um, How?

“The play’s the thing…”

(remember Hamlet?)

Yes, the idea somehow came through that God was lonely or some craziness like that and wanted to feel what it felt like to have a playmate, namely the dualistic Universe of namarupa, name and form, yin and yang, Shiva and Shakti…

This is the idea of “Lila,” that the whole cosmic manifestation that we find ourselves in is the “Play of God,” sometimes also referred to as the “Divine Drama,” in which we are all merely players/actors (again, Shakespeare).  Now, the squeaky keen reader will still be wondering WHY on earth God would/could do this if God is perfect Oneness for which nothing could possibly be added or taken away…?  Sounds preposterous, no?  Why would God need a “playmate” (the Universe) in other words when She could just Self-Pleasure Herself for all Eternity (figuratively speaking, of course ; )?

Here’s one recent, decent answer to this that I found in Gary Renard’s second book dealing with the Course, Your Immortal Reality, which is a dialogue between Renard and two ascended masters, Arten and Pursah:

Gary: “…there are people who think that God couldn’t experience Himself in Oneness, and the only way He could experience Himself was to make this world and live in it….

Pursah: “…The idea of thinking that God would have to make this world in order to experience duality so he could enjoy Himself is the equivalent of the idea that in order to experience and enjoy sex, you would have to also experience getting shot in the gut.  No. Pain is the result of the guilt that came from thinking you separated yourself from God, and you don’t have to experience pain in order to experience the pleasure of reality.  But you do have to forgive pain and suffering and give it up in order to return to reality.”

It’s at this point that the idea of paradox perhaps needs to be brought in, paradox being a Greek word that literally means “beyond belief.”  A paradox is the concept that two seemingly contradictory ideas can somehow be reconciled, like having your cake and eating it, too, or the chicken and egg manifesting at the same time, something like that.

For if the conception of God is one of Absoluteness – that God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent — or even that God is absolutely transcendent of everything, then we still want to say that some way somehow, God did create the world, or that it came to be through God’s agency somehow, otherwise God wouldn’t truly be God, would God?!?  The idea we find in A Course in Miracles is that a “tiny, mad idea” was somehow in the Cosmic Mind that “gee, what would it be like to be separate from God…?”

Now, most people I’ve spoken with do not find this completely satisfying, because it still seems to suggest that God had something to do with it, otherwise where could that tiny, mad idea come from?

Well, if God is truly infinite, then there might be a sense in which God contains within Godself infinite possibility. This could also mean that God contains within Godself even the thought “not-God.” Yet even that thought is still part of God and could never actually be separate from God – it’s a possibility and could even appear to become an actuality, but that would only be from within the idea itself that it would all seem real. In and of itself, however, it would really only be a possibility in the Mind of God, nothing more, but also nothing less.

To return now to the idea of “Divine Play” (lila/leela) that we find in the Hindu tradition, and one that has definitely taken hold in the minds of many…Perhaps we can now reconcile the seemingly opposing view that we find in the Course with this idea. On this view, God also did not willfully create the world, yet it still rose from God as God’s “Lila” or divine play from out of the eternal bliss of God’s Self.  As one commentator has put it:

   “Brahman is full of all perfections. And to say that Brahman has some purpose in creating the world will mean that it wants to attain through the process of creation something which it has not. And that is impossible. Hence, there can be no purpose of Brahman in creating the world. The world is a mere spontaneous creation of Brahman. It is a Lila, or sport, of Brahman. It is created out of Bliss, by Bliss and for Bliss. Lila indicates a spontaneous sportive activity of Brahman as distinguished from a self-conscious volitional effort. The concept of Lila signifies freedom as distinguished from necessity.”

                     —Ram Shanker Misra, The Integral Advaitism of Sri Aurobindo

For those who need an answer to this question, there you have it, and I do feel that this is the closest we’re going to get to it using just our intellects.   While for those deep thinkers (or overthinkers : ) out there I realize that even this will not be sufficient, I do feel this is enough. What I especially appreciate about both the Advaita Vedanta and what is presented in A Course in Miracles is their downplaying the theological and philosophical speculation on these Big Questions in favor of the actual empirical experience of these truths through the continual practice of removing the cloudiness in our minds that have obscured the light of the sun.   As the Course famously says:

       “The ego will demand many answers this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, ‘How did the impossible occur?’, ‘To what did the impossible happen?’, and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you.”

The Course (or Jesus, the narrator of the Course) goes even further to tell us that actually, the only reason the ego has these questions to begin with is to say something like: “See, I exist! I’m real! Now tell me (or don’t tell me!) how I’m not real!” So at various places in the Course, Jesus makes radical statements like the following:

“Your questions have no answer, being made to still God’s Voice,

which asks of everyone one question only:

“Are you ready yet to help Me save the world?””

         Another way of putting all of this is that the only way for the ego to have a truly satisfying answer to these ultimate questions is for the ego to be completely dissolved – at which point there will be no more ego to appreciate the answer! Until that point, there will only be, there can only be, doubt and questions.   This is where faith must come in, and a firm commitment to keep that faith and keep practicing, even with doubts. The good news is that even just on the illusionary level at which we currently are, the practices that will “undo” the ego will also generally create a happier, healthier, more peaceful life. So we do get our cake and eat it, too!

In other words, while it is indeed helpful to be aware of the questions and these metaphysical issues, they mean nothing if there is no practical application of them.

And so I will leave you with one of my favorite philosophy jokes:

 

What is Mind?

Oh, no matter.

 

What is Matter?

Never mind!

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