ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 30

ACIM Reading for November 30

Supplement: Song of Prayer

2. Forgiveness

2.- II. Forgiveness-to-Destroy

1. Forgiveness-to-destroy has many forms, being a weapon of the world of form. Not all of them are obvious, and some are carefully concealed beneath what seems like charity. Yet all the forms that it may seem to take have but this single goal; their purpose is to separate and make what God created equal, different. The difference is clear in several forms where the designed comparison cannot be missed, nor is it really meant to be.

2. In this group, first, there are the forms in which a “better” person deigns to stoop to save a “baser” one from what he truly is. Forgiveness here rests on an attitude of gracious lordliness so far from love that arrogance could never be dislodged. Who can forgive and yet despise? And who can tell another he is steeped in sin, and yet perceive him as the Son of God? Who makes a slave to teach what freedom is? There is no union here, but only grief. This is not really mercy. This is death.

3. Another form, still very like the first if it is understood, does not appear in quite such blatant arrogance. The one who would forgive the other does not claim to be the better. Now he says instead that here is one whose sinfulness he shares, since both have been unworthy and deserve the retribution of the wrath of God. This can appear to be a humble thought, and may indeed induce a rivalry in sinfulness and guilt. It is not love for God’s creation and the holiness that is His gift forever. Can His Son condemn himself and still remember Him?

4. Here the goal is to separate from God the Son He loves, and keep him from his Source. This goal is also sought by those who seek the role of martyr at another’s hand. Here must the aim be clearly seen, for this may pass as meekness and as charity instead of cruelty. Is it not kind to be accepting of another’s spite, and not respond except with silence and a gentle smile? Behold, how good are you who bear with patience and with saintliness the anger and the hurt another gives, and do not show the bitter pain you feel.

5. Forgiveness-to-destroy will often hide behind a cloak like this. It shows the face of suffering and pain, in silent proof of guilt and of the ravages of sin. Such is the witness that it offers one who could be savior, not an enemy. But having been made enemy, he must accept the guilt and heavy-laid reproach that thus is put upon him. Is this love? Or is it rather treachery to one who needs salvation from the pain of guilt? What could the purpose be, except to keep the witnesses of guilt away from love?

6. Forgiveness-to-destroy can also take the form of bargaining and compromise. “I will forgive you if you meet my needs, for in your slavery is my release.” Say this to anyone and you are slave. And you will seek to rid yourself of guilt in further bargains which can give no hope, but only greater pain and misery. How fearful has forgiveness now become, and how distorted is the end it seeks. Have mercy on yourself who bargains thus. God gives and does not ask for recompense. There is no giving but to give like Him. All else is mockery. For who would try to strike a bargain with the Son of God, and thank his Father for his holiness?

7. What would you show your brother? Would you try to reinforce his guilt and thus your own? Forgiveness is the means for your escape. How pitiful it is to make of it the means for further slavery and pain. Within the world of opposites there is a way to use forgiveness for the goal of God, and find the peace He offers you. Take nothing else, or you have sought your death, and prayed for separation from your Self. Christ is for all because He is in all. It is His face forgiveness lets you see. It is His face in which you see your own.

8. All forms forgiveness takes that do not lead away from anger, condemnation and comparisons of every kind are death. For that is what their purposes have set. Be not deceived by them, but lay them by as worthless in their tragic offerings. You do not want to stay in slavery. You do not want to be afraid of God. You want to see the sunlight and the glow of Heaven shining on the face of earth, redeemed from sin and in the Love of God. From here is prayer released, along with you. Your wings are free, and prayer will lift you up and bring you home where God would have you be.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 30

Lesson 334
Today I claim the gifts forgiveness gives.

I will not wait another day to find the treasures that my Father offers me. Illusions are all vain, and dreams are gone even while they are woven out of thoughts that rest on false perceptions. Let me not accept such meager gifts again today. God’s Voice is offering the peace of God to all who hear and choose to follow Him. This is my choice today. And so I go to find the treasures God has given me.

I seek but the eternal. For Your Son can be content with nothing less than this. What, then, can be his solace but what You are offering to his bewildered mind and frightened heart, to give him certainty and bring him peace? Today I would behold my brother sinless. This Your Will for me, for so will I behold my sinlessness.

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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #440: For years now I study and do my utmost to practice the principles of A Course in Miracles. But how on earth do I forgive a person like Saddam Hussein? Have I not forgiven myself in total that I seem not to be able to forgive leaders like him? They always seem to be people I do not know personally, but who are capable of allowing in their governments the most horrible things to happen to their fellow men. It comes down to the question: How do I forgive totally and completely?

A: When the mind chooses to believe that the separation is real it gives rise to intolerable guilt that must be projected out. It is first projected onto a made-up god of vengeance (victimizer), who will punish the Son (victim) for the imagined separation thought. This ego dynamic of an “innocent” victim pursued by an angry, vicious victimizer runs through every authority relationship in the world, in many different forms. In the following passage this dynamic is described: “Suffering is an emphasis upon all that the world has done to injure you. Here is the world’s demented version of salvation clearly shown. Like to a dream of punishment, in which the dreamer is unconscious of what brought on the attack against himself, he sees himself attacked unjustly and by something not himself. He is the victim of this “something else,” a thing outside himself, for which he has no reason to be held responsible. He must be innocent because he knows not what he does, but what is done to him. Yet is his own attack upon himself apparent still, for it is he who bears the suffering. And he cannot escape because its source is seen outside himself” (T.27.VII.1).

Several important principles of the Course’s teaching of forgiveness are presented here, and are meant to be applied precisely to the situations you describe. The Course tells us that the source of all victimization is in the mind that has attacked itself by believing that it can be separate from its Source (God). The choice to believe this thought of separation and the ensuing guilt are forgotten, and then appear in some form of conflict in the world, with the victimization theme running through it. There is no resolution in the world. There is obviously an endless supply of Hitlers, Husseins, or other less dramatic examples of victimizers. This is because, as the Course tells us, the problem is in the mind and not in the world. The first step in the forgiveness process then, is recognizing that guilt in the mind is the cause of all conflict, pain, and victimization experienced in the world. This is a very difficult step because the situations in the world are so convincing. On the ego’s terms projection works; it keeps the suffering of the world in operation. This guilt lies buried in all of us, and thus is unnoticed and unhealed. When a particular form of “evil-doer” comes along and we judge him or her, we are provided with another opportunity to forgive this unconscious guilt. Incidentally, this does not mean that you approve of the cruelty of others, but it does mean that you do not have to condemn the person.

If you could forgive totally and completely you would not need A Course in Miracles to lead you through the gentle steps of letting the Holy Spirit transform all the beliefs of the ego thought system. It is enough to be willing to question your interpretation of the situations you describe, by remembering the true source of the conflict and asking for a new interpretation: “The Guest Whom God sent you will teach you how to do this, if you but recognize the little spark and are willing to let it grow. Your willingness need not be perfect, because His is” (T.11.II.6:5,6).

sinless son

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ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 29

ACIM Reading for November 29

Supplement: The Song of Prayer

2. Forgiveness
2.- I. Forgiveness of Yourself

1. No gift of Heaven has been more misunderstood than has forgiveness. It has, in fact, become a scourge; a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God. Yet those who have not yet chosen to begin the steps of prayer cannot but use it thus. Forgiveness’ kindness is obscure at first, because salvation is not understood, nor truly sought for. What was meant to heal is used to hurt because forgiveness is not wanted. Guilt becomes salvation, and the remedy appears to be a terrible alternative to life.

2. Forgiveness-to-destroy will therefore suit the purpose of the world far better than its true objective, and the honest means by which this goal is reached. Forgiveness-to-destroy will overlook no sin, no crime, no guilt that it can seek and find and “love.” Dear to its heart is error, and mistakes loom large and grow and swell within its sight. It carefully picks out all evil things, and overlooks the loving as a plague; a hateful thing of danger and of death. Forgiveness-to-destroy is death, and this it sees in all it looks upon and hates. God’s mercy has become a twisted knife that would destroy the holy Son He loves.

3. Would you forgive yourself for doing this? Then learn that God has given you the means by which you can return to Him in peace. Do not see error. Do not make it real. Select the loving and forgive the sin by choosing in its place the face of Christ. How otherwise can prayer return to God? He loves His Son. Can you remember Him and hate what He created? You will hate his Father if you hate the Son He loves. For as you see the Son you see yourself, and as you see yourself is God to you.

4. As prayer is always for yourself, so is forgiveness always given you. It is impossible to forgive another, for it is only your sins you see in him. You want to see them there, and not in you. That is why forgiveness of another is an illusion. Yet it is the only happy dream in all the world; the only one that does not lead to death. Only in someone else can you forgive yourself, for you have called him guilty of your sins, and in him must your innocence now be found. Who but the sinful need to be forgiven? And do not ever think you can see sin in anyone except yourself.

5. This is the great deception of the world, and you the great deceiver of yourself. It always seems to be another who is evil, and in his sin you are the injured one. How could freedom be possible if this were so? You would be slave to everyone, for what he does entails your fate, your feelings, your despair or hope, your misery or joy. You have no freedom unless he gives it to you. And being evil, he can only give of what he is. You cannot see his sins and not your own. But you can free him and yourself as well.

6. Forgiveness, truly given, is the way in which your only hope of freedom lies. Others will make mistakes and so will you, as long as this illusion of a world appears to be your home. Yet God Himself has given all His Sons a remedy for all illusions that they think they see. Christ’s vision does not use your eyes, but you can look through His and learn to see like Him. Mistakes are tiny shadows, quickly gone, that for an instant only seem to hide the face of Christ, which still remains unchanged behind them all. His constancy remains in tranquil silence and in perfect peace. He does not know of shadows. His the eyes that look past error to the Christ in you.

7. Ask, then, His help, and ask Him how to learn forgiveness as His vision lets it be. You are in need of what He gives, and your salvation rests on learning this of Him. Prayer cannot be released to Heaven while forgiveness-to-destroy remains with you. God’s mercy would remove this withering and poisoned thinking from your holy mind. Christ has forgiven you, and in His sight the world becomes as holy as Himself. Who sees no evil in it sees like Him. For what He has forgiven has not sinned, and guilt can be no more. Salvation’s plan is made complete, and sanity has come.

8. Forgiveness is the call to sanity, for who but the insane would look on sin when he could see the face of Christ instead? This is the choice you make; the simplest one, and yet the only one that you can make. God calls on you to save His Son from death by offering Christ’s Love to him. This is your need, and God holds out this gift to you. As He would give, so must you give as well. And thus is prayer restored to formlessness, beyond all limits into timelessness, with nothing of the past to hold it back from reuniting with the ceaseless song that all creation sings unto its God.

9. But to achieve this end you first must learn, before you reach where learning cannot go. Forgiveness is the key, but who can use a key when he has lost the door for which the key was made, and where alone it fits? Therefore we make distinctions, so that prayer can be released from darkness into light. Forgiveness’ role must be reversed, and cleansed from evil usages and hateful goals. Forgiveness-to-destroy must be unveiled in all its treachery, and then let go forever and forever. There can be no trace of it remaining, if the plan that God established for returning be achieved at last, and learning be complete.

10. This is the world of opposites. And you must choose between them every instant while this world retains reality for you. Yet you must learn alternatives for choice, or you will not be able to attain your freedom. Let it then be clear to you exactly what forgiveness means to you, and learn what it should be to set you free. The level of your prayer depends on this, for here it waits its freedom to ascend above the world of chaos into peace.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Reading from the Song of Prayer, Click HERE

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 29

Lesson 333
Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here.

Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, or hidden by deceit of any kind, if it would be escaped. It must be seen exactly as it is, where it is thought to be, in the reality which has been given it, and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. For only then are its defenses lifted, and the truth can shine upon it as it disappears.

Father, forgiveness is the light You chose to shine away all conflict and all doubt, and light the way for our return to You. No light but this can end our evil dream. No light but this can save the world. For this alone will never fail in anything, being Your gift to Your beloved Son.

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ACIM Miracle Principles for Today

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

Principle 43

Miracles arise from a miraculous state of mind, or a state of miracle-readiness.

Later on, this is called “right-mindedness” (e.g., text, p. 21; T-2.V.3:1). In other words, we first shift our mind from the ego, the wrong mind, to the Holy Spirit’s way of thinking, which is the right mind. That is what the miracle is. We give up the investment in the ego’s way of looking — attack, separation, etc. — and choose instead the Holy Spirit’s — forgiveness and joining, seeing all things as opportunities to learn that we are forgiven.

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Principle 44

The miracle is an expression of an inner awareness of Christ and the acceptance of His Atonement.

We can say that the miracle joins you with someone from whom you have separated. This reflects back to us the idea that we are all one in Christ, and this corrects the error of believing we were separated. Accepting Christ’s Atonement is accepting this principle of being one with Him. Here again, we see the idea that the miracle is the expression of Christ, not the awareness itself. This is similar to what we talked about earlier — that the miracle is a reflection of the truth, not the truth itself. It still exists and has meaning only within the world of illusion.

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Principle 45

A miracle is never lost. It may touch many people you have not even met, and produce undreamed of changes in situations of which you are not even aware.

This is similar to Principle 35. Think of the model of the hologram where we are all joined, and all the dimensions of time and space are in one part. There is no way that we could ever judge the power of what it means to let go of our grievances or to let go of our beliefs in separation. “When I am healed I am not healed alone” (workbook, p. 254; W-pI.137), as we have already seen. This can have effects, not only on people physically here, but on people who have already died. Time is not linear, and we are joined in one mind as in the hologram, regardless of the particular dimension of time and space we believe we or others are in.

Again, the only thing A Course in Miracles asks of us is to accept the Atonement for ourselves, which means to do our part in having our minds be healed of these thoughts. The extension of that miracle — Atonement or forgiveness — is not our concern, because we would have no idea of what is truly helpful. Our only responsibility — to accept the Atonement for ourselves — is to choose forgiveness or the miracle.

Q: What about intercessory prayer? How does that fit in?

A: It does not, at least not in the usual way of thinking about it. First, God does not have to be told what to do; it is simply insane to believe that. Second, and even more important, as I mentioned earlier, once we pray for others, we are saying there is a problem out there, and then we are right back in the ego’s trap. We do not pray for others, we pray for ourselves — that our minds, which believed there was a form of darkness outside, be healed. The early sections of “The Song of Prayer” state this very clearly. We pray really for help to get ourselves out of the way, so that the Holy Spirit can extend through our mind to other minds.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1085: I have read on your Web site that God does not hear the prayers that we pray here from this illusory world. How can this be true since we are joined to God through our “right” mind? Also, as we are just ideas in the mind of God, and ideas leave not their source , how could God not hear them seeing as how we, and everything there is, is in the Mind of God? I understand from reading The Song of Prayer , that our prayers should be around forgiveness and about not making any decisions on our own each day. Does the Holy Spirit, and thus God, in fact, hear our prayers or do they only serve to strengthen our faith in the Holy Spirit and God’s plan for our salvation?

A: When we (as one Son) fell asleep and left our home in God, we took with us the memory of our true Identity — that is what is known in A Course in Miracles as our right mind. But since our separating from God is completely illusory, the right mind is as well. We can choose to remember that we are not separate from God, but this has nothing to do with God. God knows nothing of what is not real. The Holy Spirit is spoken of as the “remaining Communication Link between God and His separated Sons” (C.6.3:1) , but as with the other forms He seems to be for us within the dream — a Voice, a Guide, a Helper, etc. — He is in truth part of the “eternal formlessness of God” (C.6.5:8) . It is helpful to keep in mind that to get through to us, Jesus must use language that is meaningful to us; but his meaning is not always meant literally. Thus, whenever he is speaking about duality in any sense, his language must be understood metaphorically, not literally.

In truth, we exist only in the Mind of God, “a Oneness joined as One” (T.25.I.7:1) . But in our deluded state we do not think of ourselves as one with God; we think of ourselves as individuals trying to communicate with God Who is separate from us. There is no “we” in Heaven: “God shares His Fatherhood with you who are His Son, for He makes no distinctions in what is Himself and what is still Himself. What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:3,4) . In Heaven, therefore, prayer is radically different from what we think it means in this illusory world of separate individuals, where it usually is some form of supplication or entreaty related to our needs. As one with our Source in Heaven, though, “we” could have no needs. Jesus thus says: “The Love They [Father and Son] share is what all prayer will be throughout eternity, when time is done. For such it was before time seemed to be” (S.1.in.1:7,8) .

While we still believe we exist as separate individuals, however, Jesus teaches us that prayer will take the form that best suits our needs (S.1.in.2:1) . It is a process, with different levels corresponding to where we are on our journey back to our natural state of oneness with each other and with God. But it is always for ourselves (S.1.II.6:1; III.1:1); it is part of our Atonement process. Prayer thus should be centered on forgiveness as much as possible, as it is the experience of forgiveness that leads us to the awareness that we already have what we need: “Prayer in its earlier forms [asking out of need] is an illusion, because there is no need for a ladder to reach what one has never left. Yet prayer is part of forgiveness as long as forgiveness, itself an illusion, remains unattained. Prayer is tied up with learning until the goal of learning has been reached. And then all things will be transformed together, and returned unblemished into the Mind of God” (S.1.II.8:3,4,5,6) .

i-am-here-only-meditation-6

 

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 28

ACIM Reading for November 28

Supplement: The Song of Prayer

2. Forgiveness- Introduction

1. Forgiveness offers wings to prayer, to make its rising easy and its progress swift. Without its strong support it would be vain to try to rise above prayer’s bottom step, or even to attempt to climb at all. Forgiveness is prayer’s ally; sister in the plan for your salvation. Both must come to hold you up and keep your feet secure; your purpose steadfast and unchangeable. Behold the greatest help that God ordained to be with you until you reach to Him. Illusion’s end will come with this. Unlike the timeless nature of its sister, prayer, forgiveness has an end. For it becomes unneeded when the rising up is done. Yet now it has a purpose beyond which you cannot go, nor have you need to go. Accomplish this and you have been redeemed. Accomplish this and you have been transformed. Accomplish this and you will save the world.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 28

Lesson 332
Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free.

The ego makes illusions. Truth undoes its evil dreams by shining them away. Truth never makes attack. It merely is. And by its presence is the mind recalled from fantasies, awaking to the real. Forgiveness bids this presence enter in, and take its rightful place within the mind. Without forgiveness is the mind in chains, believing in its own futility. Yet with forgiveness does the light shine through the dream of darkness, offering it hope, and giving it the means to realize the freedom that is its inheritance.

We would not bind the world again today. Fear holds it prisoner. And yet Your Love has given us the means to set it free. Father, we would release it now. For as we offer freedom, it is given us. And we would not remain as prisoners, while You are holding freedom out to us.

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ACIM  Q & A for Today

Q #926: As a Catholic and a student of A Course in Miracles , how do I pray now?

A: Whether as a student of the Course or a Catholic, true prayer is always what the Course refers to as the prayer of the heart. This means it is the content that matters, not the form. Any form can serve as an expression of the mind’s willingness to hear the Holy Spirit’s “still small voice” that is “… not drowned out by all the ego’s raucous screams and senseless ravings to those who want to hear It (T.21.V.1:6). It may be very helpful for you to use Catholic forms of prayer that are familiar to you, to remember that the Holy Spirit holds the memory of God in your mind and that the ego’s voice is not the only option. The content is the willingness to keep this in mind and choose the Holy Spirit, regardless of what form the prayer takes.

In the Course, prayer is understood as an expression of the mind’s choice between the ego or the Holy Spirit. In the manual, Jesus refers to this choice as the “prayer of the heart” (M.21) . The prayer/choice is always answered because the mind has the power to make its choice “real” in its experience. Thus, the mind gets what it wants. It has chosen and received separation, and until another choice is made it is compelled to seek outside itself for relief from the pain of having decided to be separate from its Source. It then “prays” to a magical god to be saved from the hell of its own making. Yet, there is no real relief in the ego’s plan, because nothing outside the mind has any effect on it. It is impossible for the mind to receive what it has chosen against. As Jesus tells us in the text: “ It is impossible that the prayer of the heart remain unanswered in the perception of the one who asks. If he asks for the impossible [separation] , if he wants what does not exist [the world] or seeks for illusions in his heart, all this becomes his own. The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven (M.21.3:3,4,5,6). Thus, the answer to the mind’s prayer/decision in favor of the ego is hell (the misery of this world), while the prayer/decision for the Holy Spirit leads to Heaven (peace in the dream).

Praying as a student of the Course means paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and judgments in relationships that reflect the choice the mind has made. The choice otherwise remains hidden behind layers of denial and projection. Willingness to recognize the mind’s projection instead of blaming others for how you are feeling is the first step in forgiveness, which is the prayer we are taught in the Course : “…the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless” (T.3.V.6:3,4). Thus, the form of prayer, as it is understood in the Course, is distinct from the form of Catholic prayer in that it is addressed to oneself, for oneself, in forgiveness of oneself for having taken the “tiny mad idea” (T.27.VIII.6) of separation seriously. It is remembering in every situation and relationship that everything is a reflection of the mind’s choice, and nothing else . To pray always means to be mindful always, thus fulfilling the Christian injunction. The goal of this mindfulness/prayer is to learn to not choose separation: “The sleeping Son of God has but this power [of decision] left to him. It is enough. His words do not matter” (M.21.3:7,8,9). No rituals, words, sacraments, or celebrations are required for the simple practice of forgiveness. However, if they serve as reminders to apply it to your relationships and daily experiences, they can indeed be helpful. The goal of returning home to the Father we never left can be reached by many paths.

(See also: Questions # 23, #104, #437, #505, #563, #597, and #645.)

awake & remember

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 27

ACIM Reading for November 27

Supplement: The Song of Prayer

  1. Prayer
    1.- V. The Ladder Ends

1. Prayer is a way to true humility. And here again it rises slowly up, and grows in strength and love and holiness. Let it but leave the ground where it begins to rise to God, and true humility will come at last to grace the mind that thought it was alone and stood against the world. Humility brings peace because it does not claim that you must rule the universe, nor judge all things as you would have them be. All little gods it gladly lays aside, not in resentment, but in honesty and recognition that they do not serve.

2. Illusions and humility have goals so far apart they cannot coexist, nor share a dwelling place where they can meet. Where one has come the other disappears. The truly humble have no goal but God because they need no idols, and defense no longer serves a purpose. Enemies are useless now, because humility does not oppose. It does not hide in shame because it is content with what it is, knowing creation is the Will of God. Its selflessness is Self, and this it sees in every meeting, where it gladly joins with every Son of God, whose purity it recognizes that it shares with him.

3. Now prayer is lifted from the world of things, of bodies, and of gods of every kind, and you can rest in holiness at last. Humility has come to teach you how to understand your glory as God’s Son, and recognize the arrogance of sin. A dream has veiled the face of Christ from you. Now can you look upon His sinlessness. High has the ladder risen. You have come almost to Heaven. There is little more to learn before the journey is complete. Now can you say to everyone who comes to join in prayer with you:

I cannot go without you, for you are a part of me.

And so he is in truth. Now can you pray only for what you truly share with him. For you have understood he never left, and you, who seemed alone, are one with him.

4. The ladder ends with this, for learning is no longer needed. Now you stand before the gate of Heaven, and your brother stands beside you there. The lawns are deep and still, for here the place appointed for the time when you should come has waited long for you. Here will time end forever. At this gate eternity itself will join with you. Prayer has become what it was meant to be, for you have recognized the Christ in you.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 27

Lesson 331
Section 12. What is the Ego?

The ego is idolatry; the sign of limited and separated self, born in a body, doomed to suffer and to end its life in death. It is the “will” that sees the Will of God as enemy, and takes a form in which it is denied. The ego is the “proof” that strength is weak and love is fearful, life is really death, and what opposes God alone is true.

The ego is insane. In fear it stands beyond the Everywhere, apart from All, in separation from the Infinite. In its insanity it thinks it has become a victor over God Himself. And in its terrible autonomy it “sees” the Will of God has been destroyed. It dreams of punishment, and trembles at the figures in its dreams; its enemies, who seek to murder it before it can ensure its safety by attacking them.

The Son of God is egoless. What can he know of madness and the death of God, when he abides in Him? What can he know of sorrow and of suffering, when he lives in eternal joy? What can he know of fear and punishment, of sin and guilt, of hatred and attack, when all there is surrounding him is everlasting peace, forever conflict-free and undisturbed, in deepest silence and tranquility?

To know reality is not to see the ego and its thoughts, its works, its acts, its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes, its plans for its salvation, and the cost belief in it entails. In suffering, the price for faith in it is so immense that crucifixion of the Son of God is offered daily at its darkened shrine, and blood must flow before the altar where its sickly followers prepare to die.

Yet will one lily of forgiveness change the darkness into light; the altar to illusions to the shrine of Life Itself. And peace will be restored forever to the holy minds which God created as His Son, His dwelling place, His joy, His love, completely His, completely one with Him.

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Lesson 331

There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.

How foolish, Father, to believe Your Son could cause himself to suffer! Could he make a plan for his damnation, and be left without a certain way to his release? You love me, Father. You could never leave me desolate, to die within a world of pain and cruelty. How could I think that Love has left Itself? There is no will except the Will of Love. Fear is a dream, and has no will that can conflict with Yours. Conflict is sleep, and peace awakening. Death is illusion; life, eternal truth. There is no opposition to Your Will. There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.

Forgiveness shows us that God’s Will is One, and that we share it. Let us look upon the holy sights forgiveness shows today, that we may find the peace of God. Amen.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #592: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles since the age of sixteen, but I am still having trouble releasing myself from the fear of hell that my over-zealous Baptist relatives imposed upon me when I was younger. I was taught to “pray” before I would eat a meal, and I find myself doing this every so often when I am stressed out, as if I was “sucking up” to God. Sometimes I find it easier to revert back to the rituals and idol worship when it seems my awakening is unattainable. My wife was recently deployed to Iraq, and even though I can contain the fear early in the day, later I start to feel overwhelmed and powerless, often performing the Baptist rituals out of desperation. It seems as if I am trying to communicate with two very conflicting ideas of God. What is the most effective method of prayer?

A: You express an experience common to many students who were raised with strong religious beliefs. You also have a lot of company in practicing rituals and idol worship, since that is the sum and substance of life in a body once the separation is taken seriously: “The world believes in idols. No one comes unless he worshipped them, and still attempts to seek for one that yet might offer him a gift reality does not contain” (T.29.VIII.8:4,5). Identifying with the body necessarily entails a vast array of rituals and idol worship in the form of physical, emotional and psychological care. Though not religious in nature, they are no different from religious beliefs in that they are used as substitutes for God and to defend the ego thought system based on the belief in separation. The underlying belief in our pursuit of comfort in rituals and idols, whatever form they may take, is that something external to the mind has caused our pain, and therefore something external can bring healing. It does not matter whether it be a prayer to a made-up notion of God, a favorite food, or a day at the beach. Having sided with the ego’s belief that the separation is real, we seek escape from the terrible pain of our guilt by hiding in the body and the world. Because we have made them our “friends,” we think they will shelter us from pain and bring us peace. We are mistaken; they won’t. But we are not completely convinced, because our strong attachment to our beliefs makes it difficult for us to reverse them. That is why the Course is a gentle learning process.

It is no more a sin to say a little prayer to a god that doesn’t exist, than it is to relax with enjoyable music: “You do but dream, and idols are the toys you dream you play with” (T.29.IX.4:4).

The important thing is to be aware of the fear, that causes the stress, that results in the ritualistic behavior. It can be very helpful to see this dynamic in operation and to acknowledge to Jesus or the Holy Spirit that you are afraid, concerned for your wife’s safety, and unsure of what to do to feel better. That would be an effective prayer. If then you sincerely invite him to be with you as you say your “Baptist” words, or do whatever you find comforting, they will not make you feel guilty. More importantly, the part of your mind that knows they are not the real answer, and are not what you truly believe, will be strengthened.

You may find it helpful to read “The Song of Prayer,” which is one of the Course supplements. It offers a very beautiful and comprehensive view of prayer in accord with the teaching of the Course.

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Q #628: I feel kind of confused about prayer. I have understood that forgiveness means to see something that you desire to change as being something that has been made by the ego. You accept and recognize this as true. Then you ask the Holy Spirit for true perception regarding this thing. I understand that prayers of supplication are not answered by the Holy Spirit. Is not the very asking for true perception a type of prayer of supplication?

A: A Course in Miracles teaches that forgiveness is a process, whereby we recognize that any grievance we have against any person, event, or thing is the result of a projection of guilt. Guilt originates in the mind when a choice is made to be separate from God and from others. The mind seeks to free itself from this guilt by projecting it onto something external to itself. It then dissociates itself from responsibility for choosing separation, denies the guilt, and blames something or someone for causing its discomfort. The forgiveness process begins with the willingness to look at our grievances in the light of this teaching. Whenever we find ourselves blaming something or someone for our feelings of anger, victimization, abandonment, etc., we are asked to remember that the source of our feeling is the guilt in our minds for choosing separation, not the situation or person we are accusing. That is what the Course means when it tells us we “…forgive the Son of God [our brother] for what he did not do” (T.17.III.1:5).

Because we have denied our identity as minds and have a strong attachment to our identity as bodies, this is not an easy process to practice. That is where “prayer” comes in. The Course does not tell us that the Holy Spirit does not answer prayers of supplication. All prayer begins with supplication. Because we perceive Jesus and the Holy Spirit as separate from us, our experience is that we ask them to help us. They represent the part of our minds that remembers our true Identity as God’s innocent Son. The prayer is actually a way of reminding ourselves that we do have a mind with the power to choose “another way” of looking at any situation. The very fact of recognizing misperception as a mistaken choice is already another way of looking, and is in itself the answer to a prayer to see differently. It is not the whole story, but it is a good beginning. Once we have come this far in the process, we have the opportunity to accept that the Holy Spirit’s perception is true, and we would be happier if we let it replace all the judgments about ourselves and others that we have used to keep ourselves rooted in the illusion of separation. This, too, is a prayer, in that it expresses our desire to remember this process each time we find ourselves judging, and becoming upset with the people and circumstances of our lives.

Our prayer then, is to remember, and the answer is our remembering. This is how we join with the Holy Spirit in our minds, and allow Him to teach us to eventually remain there with Him. It is the prayer described in The Song of Prayer (supplement to A Course in Miracles), whereby we “Ask…to receive what is already given; to accept what is already there” (S.1.I.1:7).

Into Christ's Presence

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 26

ACIM Reading for November 26

Supplement: The Song of Prayer

  1. Prayer

1.- IV. Praying With Others

1. Until the second level at least begins, one cannot share in prayer. For until that point, each one must ask for different things. But once the need to hold the other as an enemy has been questioned, and the reason for doing so has been recognized if only for an instant, it becomes possible to join in prayer. Enemies do not share a goal. It is in this their enmity is kept. Their separate wishes are their arsenals; their fortresses in hate. The key to rising further still in prayer lies in this simple thought; this change of mind:

We go together, you and I.

2. Now it is possible to help in prayer, and so reach up yourself. This step begins the quicker ascent, but there are still many lessons to learn. The way is open, and hope is justified. Yet it is likely at first that what is asked for even by those who join in prayer is not the goal that prayer should truly seek. Even together you may ask for things, and thus set up but an illusion of a goal you share. You may ask together for specifics, and not realize that you are asking for effects without the cause. And this you cannot have. For no one can receive effects alone, asking a cause from which they do not come to offer them to him.

3. Even the joining, then, is not enough, if those who pray together do not ask, before all else, what is the Will of God. From this Cause only can the answer come in which are all specifics satisfied; all separate wishes unified in one. Prayer for specifics always asks to have the past repeated in some way. What was enjoyed before, or seemed to be; what was another’s and he seemed to love,–all these are but illusions from the past. The aim of prayer is to release the present from its chains of past illusions; to let it be a freely chosen remedy from every choice that stood for a mistake. What prayer can offer now so far exceeds all that you asked before that it is pitiful to be content with less.

4. You have chosen a newborn chance each time you pray. And would you stifle and imprison it in ancient prisons, when the chance has come to free yourself from all of them at once? Do not restrict your asking. Prayer can bring the peace of God. What time-bound thing can give you more than this, in just the little space that lasts until it crumbles into dust?

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 26

Lesson 330
I will not hurt myself again today.

Let us this day accept forgiveness as our only function. Why should we attack our minds, and give them images of pain? Why should we teach them they are powerless, when God holds out His power and His Love, and bids them take what is already theirs? The mind that is made willing to accept God’s gifts has been restored to spirit, and extends its freedom and its joy, as is the Will of God united with its own. The Self which God created cannot sin, and therefore cannot suffer. Let us choose today that He be our Identity, and thus escape forever from all things the dream of fear appears to offer us.

Father, Your Son can not be hurt. And if we think we suffer, we but fail to know our one Identity we share with You. We would return to It today, to be made free forever from all our mistakes, and to be saved from what we thought we were.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #215: The Song of Prayer, p. 6, says that praying for material things is not what prayer is. This is only a call for hiding our guilt and a call for enemy (our own). Then is the correct way of praying a prayer of gratitude only? How do we deal with our internal desires? If our only goal is knowing God, how do I pray? Should I be in silence? Praying with others is then both looking to God? How do I deal with wishful thinking?

A: This beautiful scribed piece, The Song of Prayer, came in response to the way in which students of A Course in Miracles were using the Course. Many students thought that the Course was telling them to ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit to heal their bodies, fix things, solve problems in the world, and get them what they wanted. So Jesus teaches us in The Song of Prayer what true prayer is. He tells us, first, that it is not wrong to ask for material things; and in fact, as long as we think we are individuals living in the world, we cannot avoid praying that way (1.I.2:3). Prayer, he says, is like a ladder that we are climbing, and as we make our way up, our prayer will take a different form, because our needs will change. We will have less and less guilt as we practice forgiveness, and “without guilt there is no scarcity. The sinless have no needs” (1.I.3:5,6). Thus, at the top of the ladder — when we are advanced teachers of God — we will not experience lack of any kind, we will not perceive separation, and therefore our prayer will be just a song of gratitude. But that is at the top of the ladder.

On the lower rungs of the ladder, we experience all kinds of needs and desires. That is normal. We need to be gentle about that and not deny them. If we are honest, and we acknowledge that they are coming from a faulty perception of ourselves, we will not be held back by them. Asking for specifics is not wrong; and feeling guilty about the fact that we have needs and desires is never helpful, nor is fighting against them. We need only say “That is where I am right now; and when I am less fearful, I will allow more love to come in, and I will not experience lack or scarcity.” It is so important to remember that this is not a course in sacrifice or asceticism. This is a slow process, a gentle one, and we do not jump from the bottom of the ladder right up to the top. There are many steps in between, and if we are doing the best we can wherever we are, nothing more is ever asked of us. As we practice forgiveness, the form of our prayer will change of itself.

Our prayer on the lower rungs is always to ourselves, that we would ask the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit to look gently and without judgment at our ego thoughts, and to see our interests as shared with everyone else’s. When we have “enemies,” we have already seen our interests as separate from, and in conflict with, others. That is when we need to ask for help to have our own minds be healed through forgiveness. When our need to have an enemy is recognized and then healed, we will have advanced closer to our true state of oneness, and then praying with someone will simply be a joyous acknowledgment of our Oneness as Christ, and the Oneness of Christ and God. Asking-out-of-need will no longer have any meaning.

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Q #388: I have been thinking and meditating a lot on the concept of prayer. It seems to me that the only thing we can do in prayer is to give thanks. Because God does not and cannot enter the human form, we cannot ask for anything, but it seems that many people say that they prayed and God did this or that for them and thus their “miracles.” What happens here in these instances? Tell me more about prayer. I understand it seems silly to ask God to do what is already being done. What would Jesus say?

A: “The Song of Prayer” pamphlet may answer many of your questions regarding prayer. It describes different levels or steps, and uses the image of a ladder reaching up to God. The prayer you describe, whereby people ask for certain “things” (material, psychological, or emotional) for themselves or others, is at the bottom of the ladder. It is a form of magic, in that it seems that someone or something outside (in this case, God), granted a wish. What actually takes place is a process in the mind. A person wants something and uses the power of the mind to obtain it. But, because the person is unaware or afraid of the power of their mind, it appears that a petition is made and then granted by God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. This is then called a “miracle.” As you may know, the miracle A Course in Miracles teaches (which is a change in perception), has nothing to do with anything external. Since the Course is teaching us that we do in fact have a mind and that it has the power to choose, it certainly would not want us to think that God grants prayers in the way described above. It tells us that true prayer is the prayer of the heart, and it is always answered because in the dream we have and experience anything we truly desire. A very important principle of the thought system of A Course in Miracles explains this: “There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release. Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly. Ideas leave not their source”(W.pI.132.5:1,2,3).

The simple prayer of the Course then would be our willingness to change our minds. All of our efforts in practicing and applying the teachings of the Course — forgiveness, letting go of grievances, paying attention to our thoughts and beliefs, seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance to have them transformed, remembering our goal as often as we can — is the form our prayer takes. It is the expression of our willingness to accept the healing of our minds, the desire of our hearts, as we look honestly at all the forms our resistance and opposition take in our interactions and pursuits throughout the day. This prayer will eventually lead to the awareness of what we truly want, the top of the ladder of prayer when: “You have understood that you forgive and pray but for yourself. And in this understanding you are healed. In prayer you have united with your Source, and understood that you have never left. This level cannot be attained until there is no hatred in your heart, and no desire to attack the Son of God” (S.3.IV.4:3,4,5,).

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 25

ACIM Reading for November 25

The Song of Prayer

  1. Prayer 
    1.- III. Praying for Others

1. We said that prayer is always for yourself, and this is so. Why, then, should you pray for others at all? And if you should, how should you do it? Praying for others, if rightly understood, becomes a means for lifting your projections of guilt from your brother, and enabling you to recognize it is not he who is hurting you. The poisonous thought that he is your enemy, your evil counterpart, your nemesis, must be relinquished before you can be saved from guilt. For this the means is prayer, of rising power and with ascending goals, until it reaches even up to God.

2. The earlier forms of prayer, at the bottom of the ladder, will not be free from envy and malice. They call for vengeance, not for love. Nor do they come from one who understands that they are calls for death, made out of fear by those who cherish guilt. They call upon a vengeful god, and it is he who seems to answer them. Hell cannot be asked for another, and then escaped by him who asks for it. Only those who are in hell can ask for hell. Those who have been forgiven, and who accepted their forgiveness, could never make a prayer like that.

3. At these levels, then, the learning goal must be to recognize that prayer will bring an answer only in the form in which the prayer was made. This is enough. From here it will be an easy step to the next levels. The next ascent begins with this:

What I have asked for for my brother is not what I would have.
Thus have I made of him my enemy.

It is apparent that this step cannot be reached by anyone who sees no value or advantage to himself in setting others free. This may be long delayed, because it may seem to be dangerous instead of merciful. To the guilty there seems indeed to be a real advantage in having enemies, and this imagined gain must go, if enemies are to be set free.

4. Guilt must be given up, and not concealed. Nor can this be done without some pain, and a glimpse of the merciful nature of this step may for some time be followed by a deep retreat into fear. For fear’s defenses are fearful in themselves, and when they are recognized they bring their fear with them. Yet what advantage has an illusion of escape ever brought a prisoner? His real escape from guilt can lie only in the recognition that the guilt has gone. And how can this be recognized as long as he hides it in another, and does not see it as his own? Fear of escape makes it difficult to welcome freedom, and to make a jailer of an enemy seems to be safety. How, then, can he be released without an insane fear for yourself? You have made of him your salvation and your escape from guilt. Your investment in this escape is heavy, and your fear of letting it go is strong.

5. Stand still an instant, now, and think what you have done. Do not forget that it is you who did it, and who can therefore let it go. Hold out your hand. This enemy has come to bless you. Take his blessing, and feel how your heart is lifted and your fear released. Do not hold on to it, nor onto him. He is a Son of God, along with you. He is no jailer, but a messenger of Christ. Be this to him, that you may see him thus.

6. It is not easy to realize that prayers for things, for status, for human love, for external “gifts” of any kind, are always made to set up jailers and to hide from guilt. These things are used for goals that substitute for God, and therefore distort the purpose of prayer. The desire for them is the prayer. One need not ask explicitly. The goal of God is lost in the quest for lesser goals of any kind, and prayer becomes requests for enemies. The power of prayer can be quite clearly recognized even in this. No one who wants an enemy will fail to find one. But just as surely will he lose the only true goal that is given him. Think of the cost, and understand it well. All other goals are at the cost of God.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 25

Lesson 329
I have already chosen what You will.

Father, I thought I wandered from Your Will, defied it, broke its laws, and interposed a second will more powerful than Yours. Yet what I am in truth is but Your Will, extended and extending. This am I, and this will never change. As You are One, so am I one with You. And this I chose in my creation, where my will became forever one with Yours. That choice was made for all eternity. It cannot change, and be in opposition to itself. Father, my will is Yours. And I am safe, untroubled and serene, in endless joy, because it is Your Will that it be so.

Today we will accept our union with each other and our Source. We have no will apart from His, and all of us are one because His Will is shared by all of us. Through it we recognize that we are one. Through it we find our way at last to God.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #96: Is praying for others beneficial to them? If so, what is the best and most helpful way to pray for others — ones in difficult times and those in happy times — our loved ones (those here and those who have passed on) and our “enemies” — those we know and those we don’t know in our community, our country and our world — or should we pray for others at all?

A: A Course in Miracles does not ask us to pray for others in the usual sense, but rather to release our brothers from all our judgments of them, including the fact that we think they are in need of our prayers. We are told that our only function is forgiveness: “Salvation of the world depends on you who can forgive. Such is your function here” (W.p.I.186.14:5,6). The prayer the Course calls us to then, is forgiveness “…the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless. The prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that you may be able to recognize what you already have” (T.3.V.6:3,4,5). What we have, along with everybody else, is the identity God gave us as His innocent Son; an identity that has no opposite. Recognition of this identity in ourselves and in all our brothers, with no exclusion of distinction, is our prayer for them. Only this is truly beneficial to others, as well as to ourselves, and it applies to all persons in all situations.

Since all forgiveness is ultimately for ourselves for having misperceived, so all prayer is for ourselves: “Let it never be forgotten that prayer at any level is always for yourself. If you unite with anyone in prayer, you make him part of you. The enemy is you, as is the Christ. Before it can become holy, then, prayer becomes a choice. You do not choose for another. You can but choose for yourself. Pray truly for your enemies, for herein lies your own salvation. Forgive them for your sins, and you will be forgiven indeed” (S.1.II.6:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8). Forgiveness is not only our only function but our only need, and this is true for everyone. This is the prayer we may offer each time we think we see someone “in need of our prayers” or in need of anything: “Let me know this brother as I know myself” (T.5.in 3:8). When we encounter someone we think is in need of our prayer, our response is first to ask that our perception be corrected to perceive the person truly, so that we can be an example of one who has accepted the Holy Spirit’s perception in our own mind. Thus we appeal to the power of the person’s mind to choose the corrected perception himself. If we practice with sincerity we will come to know ourselves and everyone as sinless, whole, and healed of all misperceptions. No one could ask for or need anything else.

awake & remember

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 24

ACIM Reading for November 24

The Song of Prayer

Prayer

1.- II. The Ladder of Prayer

1. Prayer has no beginning and no end. It is a part of life. But it does change in form, and grow with learning until it reaches its formless state, and fuses into total communication with God. In its asking form it need not, and often does not, make appeal to God, or even involve belief in Him. At these levels prayer is merely wanting, out of a sense of scarcity and lack.

2. These forms of prayer, or asking-out-of-need, always involve feelings of weakness and inadequacy, and could never be made by a Son of God who knows Who he is. No one, then, who is sure of his Identity could pray in these forms. Yet it is also true that no one who is uncertain of his Identity can avoid praying in this way. And prayer is as continual as life. Everyone prays without ceasing. Ask and you have received, for you have established what it is you want.

3. It is also possible to reach a higher form of asking-out-of-need, for in this world prayer is reparative, and so it must entail levels of learning. Here, the asking may be addressed to God in honest belief, though not yet with understanding. A vague and usually unstable sense of identification has generally been reached, but tends to be blurred by a deep-rooted sense of sin. It is possible at this level to continue to ask for things of this world in various forms, and it is also possible to ask for gifts such as honesty or goodness, and particularly for forgiveness for the many sources of guilt that inevitably underlie any prayer of need. Without guilt there is no scarcity. The sinless have no needs.

4. At this level also comes that curious contradiction in terms known as “praying for one’s enemies.” The contradiction lies not in the actual words, but rather in the way in which they are usually interpreted. While you believe you have enemies, you have limited prayer to the laws of this world, and have also limited your ability to receive and to accept to the same narrow margins. And yet, if you have enemies you have need of prayer, and great need, too. What does the phrase really mean? Pray for yourself, that you may not seek to imprison Christ and thereby lose the recognition of your own Identity. Be traitor to no one, or you will be treacherous to yourself.

5. An enemy is the symbol of an imprisoned Christ. And who could He be except yourself? The prayer for enemies thus becomes a prayer for your own freedom. Now it is no longer a contradiction in terms. It has become a statement of the unity of Christ and a recognition of His sinlessness. And now it has become holy, for it acknowledges the Son of God as he was created.

6. Let it never be forgotten that prayer at any level is always for yourself. If you unite with anyone in prayer, you make him part of you. The enemy is you, as is the Christ. Before it can become holy, then, prayer becomes a choice. You do not choose for another. You can but choose for yourself. Pray truly for your enemies, for herein lies your own salvation. Forgive them for your sins, and you will be forgiven indeed.

7. Prayer is a ladder reaching up to Heaven. At the top there is a transformation much like your own, for prayer is part of you. The things of earth are left behind, all unremembered. There is no asking, for there is no lack. Identity in Christ is fully recognized as set forever, beyond all change and incorruptible. The light no longer flickers, and will never go out. Now, without needs of any kind, and clad forever in the pure sinlessness that is the gift of God to you, His Son, prayer can again become what it was meant to be. For now it rises as a song of thanks to your Creator, sung without words, or thoughts, or vain desires, unneedful now of anything at all. So it extends, as it was meant to do. And for this giving God Himself gives thanks.

8. God is the goal of every prayer, giving it timelessness instead of end. Nor has it a beginning, because the goal has never changed. Prayer in its earlier forms is an illusion, because there is no need for a ladder to reach what one has never left. Yet prayer is part of forgiveness as long as forgiveness, itself an illusion, remains unattained. Prayer is tied up with learning until the goal of learning has been reached. And then all things will be transformed together, and returned unblemished into the Mind of God. Being beyond learning, this state cannot be described. The stages necessary to its attainment, however, need to be understood, if peace is to be restored to God’s Son, who lives now with the illusion of death and the fear of God.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Reading, Click HERE

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 24

Lesson 328
I choose the second place to gain the first.

What seems to be the second place is first, for all things we perceive are upside down until we listen to the Voice for God. It seems that we will gain autonomy but by our striving to be separate, and that our independence from the rest of God’s creation is the way in which salvation is obtained. Yet all we find is sickness, suffering and loss and death. This is not what our Father wills for us, nor is there any second to His Will. To join with His is but to find our own. And since our will is His, it is to Him that we must go to recognize our will.

There is no will but Yours. And I am glad that nothing I imagine contradicts what You would have me be. It is Your Will that I be wholly safe, eternally at peace. And happily I share that Will which You, my Father, gave as part of me.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #818: The preliminary diagnosis is that there is a malignant tumor in my esophagus where the esophagus enters the stomach. The result is a severe constriction making swallowing very difficult. I have seen questions asked about praying and relieving or eliminating malignancies. My question is, what prayers should I use to relieve and remove the growth? My wife will help me pray.

A: First of all, you want to continue to seek out and follow whatever medical advice and treatment is available to help you with your condition. It is important to be clear that it is never an either-or proposition between medical interventions and A Course in Miracles . And then you should say whatever prayers bring you comfort and reassure you that it is not God’s Will that you suffer or experience pain or fear, using words that are personally meaningful to you and your wife. The specific words are not so important as the decision you make to allow your mind to be joined with your wife’s in a shared purpose of healing.

The Course’s focus is on healing the thoughts of unforgiveness we are holding against ourselves in our minds and not on changing the symptoms in our bodies, which it considers to be the effects of those thoughts. Still, there is nothing wrong with asking for help with physical conditions and Jesus recognizes that for most of us, still identified with our bodies, that will continue to be our focus of concern ( S.1.II.2 ). Perhaps you would be willing to consider your symptoms as the external expression of a thought of illness — the ego, to be specific — in your mind. Then you can bring the thoughts of fear and pain in your mind to Jesus or the Holy Spirit or God, or whatever loving presence you find most comforting. The value in focusing in your prayers on any thoughts of pain or guilt or fear in your mind, as well as your bodily concerns, is that then you are including, from the Course’s perspective, the underlying cause of the suffering and pain, as well as the effects — the physical symptoms.

There are many passages in the Course that you may find of help and comfort as you deal with the ramifications of your diagnosis. One in particular, which recognizes the process that we all must go through as we commit ourselves to putting the Course’s principles of forgiveness into practice, is workbook lesson 284, “I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt.”

“Loss is not loss when properly perceived. Pain is impossible. There is no grief with any cause at all. And suffering of any kind is nothing but a dream. This is the truth, at first to be but said and then repeated many times; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth. I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt. And I would go beyond these words today, and past all reservations, and arrive at full acceptance of the truth in them. (W.p.II.284.1, italics added ) .

These words are not meant to be used to deny or suppress whatever you may be experiencing in your body, but rather to offer the hope that, as a result of acknowledging the pain and the fear and their deeper source in the mind, the real potential for healing the underlying thoughts becomes possible.

There are a number of questions, as you note, addressing issues of prayer and healing. Two that may be particularly relevant to your concerns include Questions #149 and #215.

Holy Encounter copy

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 23

ACIM Reading for November 23

The Song of Prayer

  1. Prayer

1.- I. True Prayer

1. Prayer is a way offered by the Holy Spirit to reach God. It is not merely a question or an entreaty. It cannot succeed until you realize that it asks for nothing. How else could it serve its purpose? It is impossible to pray for idols and hope to reach God. True prayer must avoid the pitfall of asking to entreat. Ask, rather, to receive what is already given; to accept what is already there.

2. You have been told to ask the Holy Spirit for the answer to any specific problem, and that you will receive a specific answer if such is your need. You have also been told that there is only one problem and one answer. In prayer this is not contradictory. There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not. You cannot be asked to accept answers which are beyond the level of need that you can recognize. Therefore, it is not the form of the question that matters, nor how it is asked. The form of the answer, if given by God, will suit your need as you see it. This is merely an echo of the reply of His Voice. The real sound is always a song of thanksgiving and of Love.

3. You cannot, then, ask for the echo. It is the song that is the gift. Along with it come the overtones, the harmonics, the echoes, but these are secondary. In true prayer you hear only the song. All the rest is merely added. You have sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else has indeed been given you.

4. The secret of true prayer is to forget the things you think you need. To ask for the specific is much the same as to look on sin and then forgive it. Also in the same way, in prayer you overlook your specific needs as you see them, and let them go into God’s Hands. There they become your gifts to Him, for they tell Him that you would have no gods before Him; no Love but His. What could His answer be but your remembrance of Him? Can this be traded for a bit of trifling advice about a problem of an instant’s duration? God answers only for eternity. But still all little answers are contained in this.

5. Prayer is a stepping aside; a letting go, a quiet time of listening and loving. It should not be confused with supplication of any kind, because it is a way of remembering your holiness. Why should holiness entreat, being fully entitled to everything Love has to offer? And it is to Love you go in prayer. Prayer is an offering; a giving up of yourself to be at one with Love. There is nothing to ask because there is nothing left to want. That nothingness becomes the altar of God. It disappears in Him.

6. This is not a level of prayer that everyone can attain as yet. Those who have not reached it still need your help in prayer because their asking is not yet based upon acceptance. Help in prayer does not mean that another mediates between you and God. But it does mean that another stands beside you and helps to raise you up to Him. One who has realized the goodness of God prays without fear. And one who prays without fear cannot but reach Him. He can therefore also reach His Son, wherever he may be and whatever form he may seem to take.

7. Praying to Christ in anyone is true prayer because it is a gift of thanks to His Father. To ask that Christ be but Himself is not an entreaty. It is a song of thanksgiving for what you are. Herein lies the power of prayer. It asks nothing and receives everything. This prayer can be shared because it receives for everyone. To pray with one who knows that this is true is to be answered. Perhaps the specific form of resolution for a specific problem will occur to either of you; it does not matter which. Perhaps it will reach both, if you are genuinely attuned to one another. It will come because you have realized that Christ is in both of you. That is its only truth.

For a Free Downloadable Audio of the Introduction & First Section of The Song of Prayer, Click HERE

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 23

Lesson 327

I need but call and You will answer me.

I am not asked to take salvation on the basis of an unsupported faith. For God has promised He will hear my call, and answer me Himself. Let me but learn from my experience that this is true, and faith in Him must surely come to me. This is the faith that will endure, and take me farther and still farther on the road that leads to Him. For thus I will be sure that He has not abandoned me and loves me still, awaiting but my call to give me all the help I need to come to Him.

Father, I thank You that Your promises will never fail in my experience, if I but test them out. Let me attempt therefore to try them, and to judge them not. Your Word is one with You. You give the means whereby conviction comes, and surety of Your abiding Love is gained at last.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #178: In A Course in Miracles, we are constantly reminded that to dispel the ego we must simply “look” at its machinations without judgment. In other words, with the Holy Spirit or Jesus. It is this process of looking that is a stumbling block for me. Does the Course provide a “mental” formula in the guise of a prayer, phrase or verse that I may employ when I recognize my ego is at work (which is, of course, all the time)?

A: Recognizing your ego is at work is a major component in its undoing, since the ego itself would never allow you to look at its shenanigans. The stumbling block arises because as quickly as you “see” your ego (the right-minded choice), you just as quickly become afraid, and then judge what you have “seen” (the wrong-minded choice). Your fear really then has come from your ability to look with the Holy Spirit’s or Jesus’ nonjudgmental gentleness and patience at your ego thought system, and that is why you run away. So you want to be gentle with yourself over your not being gentle with yourself. Since it has been determined that you have already become afraid, you certainly do not want to make yourself more fearful by punishing yourself for your lack of gentleness. At the end of Chapter 5 in the text is a lovely prayer you may employ whenever you experience this stumbling block:

I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.

I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.

I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.

I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.

I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me (T.5.VII.6:7,8,9,10,11).

sun of god guiltless

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 22

Note: Today we begin reading “The Song of Prayer,” which, like “Psychotherapy,” is another supplement to A Course in Miracles.  The third edition to ACIM published by the Foundation for Inner Peace says the following about The Song of Prayer:

“The Song of Prayer was scribed in 1977, and its three chapters summarize the Course’s teachings on prayer, forgiveness, and healing.  It first presents the ego’s wrong-minded understanding of these terms, which is then contrasted with the Holy Spirit’s right-minded view.”

ACIM Reading for November 22

Supplement: The Song of Prayer

1. Prayer- Introduction

1. Prayer is the greatest gift with which God blessed His Son at his creation. It was then what it is to become; the single voice Creator and creation share; the song the Son sings to the Father, Who returns the thanks it offers Him unto the Son. Endless the harmony, and endless, too, the joyous concord of the Love They give forever to Each Other. And in this, creation is extended. God gives thanks to His extension in His Son. His Son gives thanks for his creation, in the song of his creating in his Father’s Name. The Love They share is what all prayer will be throughout eternity, when time is done. For such it was before time seemed to be.

2. To you who are in time a little while, prayer takes the form that best will suit your need. You have but one. What God created one must recognize its oneness, and rejoice that what illusions seemed to separate is one forever in the Mind of God. Prayer now must be the means by which God’s Son leaves separate goals and separate interests by, and turns in holy gladness to the truth of union in his Father and himself.

3. Lay down your dreams, you holy Son of God, and rising up as God created you, dispense with idols and remember Him. Prayer will sustain you now, and bless you as you lift your heart to Him in rising song that reaches higher and then higher still, until both high and low have disappeared. Faith in your goal will grow and hold you up as you ascend the shining stairway to the lawns of Heaven and the gate of peace. For this is prayer, and here salvation is. This is the way. It is God’s gift to you.

***

ACIM Workbook for November 22

Lesson 326
I am forever an Effect of God.

Father, I was created in Your Mind, a holy Thought that never left its home. I am forever Your Effect, and You forever and forever are my Cause. As You created me I have remained. Where You established me I still abide. And all Your attributes abide in me, because it is Your Will to have a Son so like his Cause that Cause and Its Effect are indistinguishable. Let me know that I am an Effect of God, and so I have the power to create like You. And as it is in Heaven, so on earth. Your plan I follow here, and at the end I know that You will gather Your effects into the tranquil Heaven of Your Love, where earth will vanish, and all separate thoughts unite in glory as the Son of God.

Let us today behold earth disappear, at first transformed, and then, forgiven, fade entirely into God’s holy Will.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #994: If God doesn’t know we exist, who the hell have we all been praying to for thousands of years? Have we been choreographing our own answers? If our prayers were not answered, was it because we couldn’t create properly? Is this why millions of people were killed during the Holocaust although they were devout, prayerful people — because there was no one to hear their prayers and help them? Has everyone that thought there was a God who cared about them, guided them, and loved them been duped? Am I interpreting all of this correctly?

A: No, you are not quite interpreting the message of A Course in Miracles correctly. The Course does give us a way of thinking about God and the nature of this world that is radically different from what western religions have taught for centuries. However, its central message is not that we suffer because God cannot hear us or because we cannot “create properly,” but rather that we suffer because we actively choose to experience suffering instead of the Love of God. The Course informs us that we have been wrong about God because we have been so very wrong about ourselves. Let us take a closer look at how it explains these dynamics.

Jesus tells us that God does not know we are here because we are not here . In the original instant, filled with imaginary guilt, we wanted to escape from God — simultaneously believing that we had killed Him and that He would rise again and give us the punishment we thought we deserved for daring to consider the idea of separation. So we chose to listen to the ego, fall asleep, and dream up this world. Having been birthed by a thought of guilt, this is a guilt-filled world in which everyone appears to lead lives that overflow with punishing pain. While, as you mentioned, Holocaust victims provide an example of extreme physical and psychological anguish, we need hardly look to them to find proof of human suffering that one would expect a Loving God to alleviate. Indeed, simply living as a body is a set up for almost continual pain — the pain of material need, illness, aging, loss, dependency, and so on. The Course asks us to look honestly at this and admit that, as much as we may profess to love Him, if we believe that God created and controls the events in this world and our lives, a part of our minds must hate Him for not doing more to improve things.

And yet, ultimately, the Course’s message is a happy one, which lets us know that God’s Love is much closer than most of us ever imagined. We do not need to beseech God, please Him, or struggle to earn His Love because, in reality, we remain safely enveloped in it, at home in Heaven. As the Course says “Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere. Outside of Heaven, only the conflict of illusion stands; senseless, impossible and beyond all reason, and yet perceived as an eternal barrier to Heaven” (T.23.II.19:6,7).

So all we need do to begin to awaken to that reality is undo the one mistake that we have made from the moment time seemed to begin — choosing the thought system of the ego rather than the Holy Spirit (Who represents the memory of God’s Love in our mind). When we choose the Holy Spirit’s Love, we will be happy regardless of whether the circumstances in our lives are ones that the world would judge to be pleasant or miserable. Likewise, when we choose the ego, we will be unhappy no matter how good or bad our external situation appears to be. For this reason, we cannot judge someone else’s life as being fair or unfair. While certainly the outer life of virtually every human being seems filled with gross injustices, we cannot know why each of us chooses a particular script or the lessons we may be learning as a result of our choice.

Those who have believed that God cared about them, guided them, and loved them have not been duped if this belief helped them to get in touch with His Love in their mind. In the end, it does not really matter how we conceptualize God or our relationship to Him, so long as we find a way of doing so that helps us replace our guilt and fear with love and inner peace. Basically, Jesus just wants to help us find our way home and has given us the Course as a tool to help us make the journey. But this does not make the Course any more or less true than other tools people have used for the same purpose. Remember, nothing in this world is true, and anything in this world can help us move closer to truth (love) in our mind if that is the purpose we give it. This is why, after establishing the illusory nature of the physical world and the body, Jesus can make a statement like, “If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy” (W.pI.70.9:3,4) . Similarly, if people throughout history have felt God’s Love even while conceptualizing it in a way that is clearly at odds from how it is presented in the Course, this has been no idle fantasy.

Know Yourself

ACIM Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 21

ACIM Reading for November 21

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

3. The Practice of Psychotherapy

3.- III. The Question of Payment

1. No one can pay for therapy, for healing is of God and He asks for nothing. It is, however, part of His plan that everything in this world be used by the Holy Spirit to help in carrying out the plan. Even an advanced therapist has some earthly needs while he is here. Should he need money it will be given him, not in payment, but to help him better serve the plan. Money is not evil. It is nothing. But no one here can live with no illusions, for he must yet strive to have the last illusion be accepted by everyone everywhere. He has a mighty part in this one purpose, for which he came. He stays here but for this. And while he stays he will be given what he needs to stay.

2. Only an unhealed healer would try to heal for money, and he will not succeed to the extent to which he values it. Nor will he find his healing in the process. There will be those of whom the Holy Spirit asks some payment for His purpose. There will be those from whom He does not ask. It should not be the therapist who makes these decisions. There is a difference between payment and cost. To give money where God’s plan allots it has no cost. To withhold it from where it rightfully belongs has enormous cost. The therapist who would do this loses the name of healer, for he could never understand what healing is. He cannot give it, and so he does not have it.

3. The therapists of this world are indeed useless to the world’s salvation. They make demands, and so they cannot give. Patients can pay only for the exchange of illusions. This, indeed, must demand payment, and the cost is great. A “bought” relationship cannot offer the only gift whereby all healing is accomplished. Forgiveness, the Holy Spirit’s only dream, must have no cost. For if it does, it merely crucifies God’s Son again. Can this be how he is forgiven? Can this be how the dream of sin will end?

4. The right to live is something no one need fight for. It is promised him, and guaranteed by God. Therefore it is a right the therapist and patient share alike. If their relationship is to be holy, whatever one needs is given by the other; whatever one lacks the other supplies. Herein is the relationship made holy, for herein both are healed. The therapist repays the patient in gratitude, as does the patient repay him. There is no cost to either. But thanks are due to both, for the release from long imprisonment and doubt. Who would not be grateful for such a gift?  Yet who could possibly imagine that it could be bought?

5. It has well been said that to him who hath shall be given. Because he has, he can give.  And because he gives, he shall be given. This is the law of God, and not of the world. So it is with God’s healers. They give because they have heard His Word and understood it. All that they need will thus be given them. But they will lose this understanding unless they remember that all they have comes only from God. If they believe they need anything from a brother, they will recognize him as a brother no longer. And if they do this, a light goes out even in Heaven. Where God’s Son turns against himself, he can look only upon darkness. He has himself denied the light, and cannot see.

6. One rule should always be observed: No one should be turned away because he cannot pay. No one is sent by accident to anyone. Relationships are always purposeful. Whatever their purpose may have been before the Holy Spirit entered them, they are always His potential temple; the resting place of Christ and home of God Himself. Whoever comes has been sent. Perhaps he was sent to give his brother the money he needed. Both will be blessed thereby. Perhaps he was sent to teach the therapist how much he needs forgiveness, and how valueless is money in comparison. Again will both be blessed. Only in terms of cost could one have more. In sharing, everyone must gain a blessing without cost.

7. This view of payment may well seem impractical, and in the eyes of the world it would be so. Yet not one worldly thought is really practical. How much is gained by striving for illusions? How much is lost by throwing God away? And is it possible to do so? Surely it is impractical to strive for nothing, and to attempt to do what is impossible. Then stop a while, long enough to think of this: You have perhaps been seeking for salvation without recognizing where to look. Whoever asks your help can show you where. What greater gift than this could you be given? What greater gift is there that you would give?

8. Physician, healer, therapist, teacher, heal thyself. Many will come to you carrying the gift of healing, if you so elect. The Holy Spirit never refuses an invitation to enter and abide with you. He will give you endless opportunities to open the door to your salvation, for such is His function. He will also tell you exactly what your function is in every circumstance and at all times. Whoever He sends you will reach you, holding out his hand to his Friend. Let the Christ in you bid him welcome, for that same Christ is in him as well. Deny him entrance, and you have denied the Christ in you. Remember the sorrowful story of the world, and the glad tidings of salvation. Remember the plan of God for the restoration of joy and peace. And do not forget how very simple are the ways of God:

You were lost in the darkness of the world until you asked for light.
And then God sent His Son to give it to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 21

Lesson 325

All things I think I see reflect ideas.

This is salvation’s keynote: What I see reflects a process in my mind, which starts with my idea of what I want. From there, the mind makes up an image of the thing the mind desires, judges valuable, and therefore seeks to find. These images are then projected outward, looked upon, esteemed as real and guarded as one’s own. From insane wishes comes an insane world. From judgment comes a world condemned. And from forgiving thoughts a gentle world comes forth, with mercy for the holy Son of God, to offer him a kindly home where he can rest a while before he journeys on, and help his brothers walk ahead with him, and find the way to Heaven and to God.

Our Father, Your ideas reflect the truth, and mine apart from Yours but make up dreams. Let me behold what only Yours reflect, for Yours and Yours alone establish truth.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q#139: I listened to the tape set Form vs. Content: Sex and Money. It said that you project out from inside your beliefs about money. How do you find out exactly what your beliefs are so that you can change them?

A: Before considering how you may identify your beliefs about money, a little clarification of A Course in Miracles approach to all of our ego thoughts and beliefs may be helpful first. We want to become aware of them so that we can accept responsibility for choosing them, but not so that we can change them. That would put us in charge of the process of Atonement, a surefire formula for failure. The goal with the Course is that we make our unconscious thoughts conscious, accept responsibility for choosing them, recognize what purpose they serve in the ego’s scheme, and then release them along with the guilt they necessarily entail to the healing light of the Holy Spirit or Jesus. But we don’t want to try to change them! For that would make them real and would involve substituting one ego belief for another.

Money is simply an external form or symbol onto which we project our beliefs about ourselves. So what are your attitudes and feelings about money? By the way, there are no right or wrong, good or bad, answers to the questions that follow. All answers will reflect basic ego beliefs about yourself and others, of either a special love or special hate nature. In the end, we will realize they are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad, but simply untrue. But we first have to look at them, because we do believe them, and look with Jesus or the Holy Spirit beside us so that we can look openly and honestly.

Do you feel you never have enough? Are you afraid of losing the money you have? Does having money make you feel better or more secure about yourself? Do you save it as a symbol of security and safety against unforeseen dangers and obstacles? Or do you tend to spend it as quickly as you get it and are always in debt? Do you see having money as a symbol of status and success, a mea­sure of your worth? If you don’t have much money, do you try to pretend you have more? Or do you wear your poverty as a badge of specialness? If you have lots of money, do you like to flaunt it? Or do you try to keep a low profile about it? How do you feel about sharing your money with others or giving it away? Are you jealous or resentful of those who have more money than you? How do you feel your parents have been towards you with money? If you are in a relationship with someone else which involves joint management of money and resources, is there conflict around handling it? What is the nature of the disagreements you have and what judgments do you find yourself making about how the other handles money?

As you reflect on your answers to these and other related questions about money that may come to mind, you want then to get in touch with the underlying thoughts, feelings and beliefs that these represent. These may be thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, scarcity, deprivation, limitation, insecurity, fear, victimization, irresponsibility, shame and guilt, pride, triumph, superiority, generosity, power, control, and so on. The important recognition that you want to foster is that these are basic feelings about yourself that have nothing to do with money, or other people, or anything of the world. These are repercussions from seriously entertaining the thought of separation in your mind and wanting it to be true. For the thought of separation is nothing less than the desire to be separate from love, including a willingness to attack and destroy love in order to establish an individual self. And in that process we believe we have destroyed our own value. And so all of the accompanying feelings of worthlessness, which become too painful to hold in our mind and acknowledge, become projected out onto a world of our own making, with many convenient targets and repositories for those feelings, including money. And then those external symbols seem to be the problem, rather than the thought of separation in our mind through which we devalued our true Self. At that point, the ego thought system is well protected from the Holy Spirit’s Atone­ment principle, which says separation is impossible except in illusory dreams and nothing has really happened to deprive us of the love that we are. But once we understand the ego’s purpose for the world, including money, we can look at all of it differently, and know it is a window to our own unconscious mind. And now we can make a different choice, remembering our true Value as God’s holy Son.