ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 10
8. HOW CAN PERCEPTION OF ORDER OF DIFFICULTIES BE AVOIDED?
The belief in order of difficulties is the basis for the world’s perception. It rests on differences; on uneven background and shifting foreground, on unequal heights and diverse sizes, on varying degrees of darkness and light, and thousands of contrasts in which each thing seen competes with every other in order to be recognised. A larger object overshadows a smaller one. A brighter thing draws the attention from another with less intensity of appeal. And a more threatening idea, or one conceived of as more desirable by the world’s standards, completely upsets the mental balance. What the body’s eyes behold is only conflict. Look not to them for peace and understanding.
Illusions are always illusions of differences. How could it be otherwise? By definition, an illusion is an attempt to make something real that is regarded as of major importance, but is recognised as being untrue. The mind therefore seeks to make it true out of its intensity of desire to have it for itself. Illusions are travesties of creation; attempts to bring truth to lies. Finding truth unacceptable, the mind revolts against truth and gives itself an illusion of victory. Finding health a burden, it retreats into feverish dreams. And in these dreams the mind is separate, different from other minds, with different interests of its own, and able to gratify its needs at the expense of others.
Where do all these differences come from? Certainly they seem to be in the world outside. Yet it is surely the mind that judges what the eyes behold. It is the mind that interprets the eyes’ messages and gives them “meaning”. And this meaning does not exist in the world outside at all. What is seen as “reality” is simply what the mind prefers. Its hierarchy of values is projected outward, and it sends the body’s eyes to find it. The body’s eyes will never see except through differences. Yet it is not the messages they bring on which perception rests. Only the mind evaluates their messages, and so only the mind is responsible for seeing. It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful.
It is in the sorting out and categorising activities of the mind that errors in perception enter. And it is here correction must be made. The mind classifies what the body’s eyes bring to it according to its preconceived values, judging where each sense datum fits best. What basis could be faultier than this? Unrecognised by itself, it has itself asked to be given what will fit into these categories. And having done so, it concludes that the categories must be true. On this the judgement of all differences rests, because it is on this that judgements of the world depend. Can this confused and senseless “reasoning” be depended on for anything?
There can be no order of difficulty in healing merely because all sickness is illusion. Is it harder to dispel the belief of the insane in a larger hallucination as opposed to a smaller one? Will he agree more quickly to the unreality of a louder voice he hears than to that of a softer one? Will he dismiss more easily a whispered demand to kill than a shout? And do the number of pitchforks the devils he sees carrying affect their credibility in his perception? His mind has categorised them all as real, and so they are all real to him. When he realises they are all illusions they will disappear. And so it is with healing. The properties of illusions which seem to make them different are really irrelevant, for their properties are as illusory as they are.
The body’s eyes will continue to see differences. But the mind that has let itself be healed will no longer acknowledge them. There will be those who seem to be “sicker” than others, and the body’s eyes will report their changed appearances as before. But the healed mind will put them all in one category; they are unreal. This is the gift of its Teacher; the understanding that only two categories are meaningful in sorting out the messages the mind receives from what appears to be the outside world. And of these two, but one is real. Just as reality is wholly real, apart from size and shape and time and place—for differences cannot exist within it—so too are illusions without distinctions. The one answer to sickness of any kind is healing. The one answer to all illusions is truth.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 10
My true Identity abides in You.
Father, I made an image of myself, and it is this I call the Son of God. Yet is creation as it always was, for Your creation is unchangeable. Let me not worship idols. I am he my Father loves. My holiness remains the light of Heaven and the Love of God. Is not what is beloved of You secure? Is not the light of Heaven infinite? Is not Your Son my true Identity, when You created everything that is?
Now are we One in shared Identity, with God our Father as our only Source, and everything created part of us. And so we offer blessing to all things, uniting lovingly with all the world, which our forgiveness has made one with us.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1361: I’ve been married for a year, and I have a husband who constantly verbally abuses me. Any little thing I angers him, making him swear at me even in front of others. We have fought about this, but I found it of no use. It was during that time I began to practice A Course in Miracles . Sometimes the Course works, and sometimes doesn’t. But somehow I feel I just can’t take it anymore. I am full of hatred and self-pity. I don’t want to forgive him and I hate myself for doing this. I don’t know what to do.
A: Being a student of A Course in Miracles does not mean that you must stay in an abusive relationship in order to practice your lessons of forgiveness. That is a mistake students often make. While it is not the purpose of the Course to advise us on behavior, it does advise us — and that is the focus of its training — on the kind of thinking that would help restore our minds to their natural state of true innocence, because from that state, you would know what the most loving course of action is for both you and your husband. You would not have to agonize over it. You would either stay or leave, but whatever you choose, you would do it without conflict, guilt, anger, or fear. It is not easy to reach that state, as you have discovered in the short amount of time you have been working with the Course — normally, it is a process that occurs over many years. But holy instants in which you are free of ego investments are within reach at any stage of the process: “The necessary condition for the holy instant does not require that you have no thoughts that are not pure. But it does require that you have none that you would keep” (T.15.IV.9:1,2). That instant without fear or guilt aligns your thinking with the compassionate truth that is always present in your right mind.
It is vital that you be gentle with yourself when you practice forgiveness imperfectly as well as when you refuse to forgive. There are many layers of fear in our minds that account for our resistance and all the difficulties we have with forgiveness. Jesus is our model to follow in this: he never judges us, for he sees our ego choices only as mistakes in need of correction, not sins demanding punishment. He asks that we have this same attitude when we are tempted to judge ourselves for our unwillingness and our imperfect practice. There is no merit in fighting against yourself just in order to be spiritual or a “good” Course in Miracles student (T.30.I.1:7) .
It is important, too, to understand that forgiveness is never about the other person; it is solely about recognizing all anger as a projection of our own guilt, and that our concealed ongoing choice to believe in our sinfulness is the real and only source of our unhappiness and lack of peace, not what other people do or do not do to us. That is why the overriding emphasis in the Course is on looking within at the contents of our minds and restoring to our awareness the power we have to choose to follow either the ego’s teachings or Jesus’. That is the function of the miracle: “The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and its content is not true” (T.28.II.7:1).
Questions #501 and #675 also address the type of situation you find yourself in. The discussion elaborates on some points made here, with particular emphasis on the ego pitfalls that students are apt to miss in their attempts to deal with the pain and anger of abusive relationships.