ACIM Text Reading from November 10
from Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice
1. The Purpose of Psychotherapy
1. Very simply, the purpose of psychotherapy is to remove the blocks to truth. Its aim is to aid the patient in abandoning his fixed delusional system, and to begin to reconsider the spurious cause and effect relationships on which it rests. No one in this world escapes fear, but everyone can reconsider its causes and learn to evaluate them correctly. God has given everyone a Teacher Whose wisdom and help far exceed whatever contributions an earthly therapist can provide. Yet there are times and situations in which an earthly patient-therapist relationship becomes the means through which He offers His greater gifts to both.
2. What better purpose could any relationship have than to invite the Holy Spirit to enter into it and give it His Own great gift of rejoicing? What higher goal could there be for anyone than to learn to call upon God and hear His Answer? And what more transcendent aim can there be than to recall the way, the truth and the life, and to remember God? To help in this is the proper purpose of psychotherapy. Could anything be holier? For psychotherapy, correctly understood, teaches forgiveness and helps the patient to recognize and accept it. And in his healing is the therapist forgiven with him.
3. Everyone who needs help, regardless of the form of his distress, is attacking himself, and his peace of mind is suffering in consequence. These tendencies are often described as “self-destructive,” and the patient often regards them in that way himself. What he does not realize and needs to learn is that this “self,” which can attack and be attacked as well, is a concept he made up. Further, he cherishes it, defends it, and is sometimes even willing to “sacrifice” his “life” on its behalf. For he regards it as himself. This self he sees as being acted on, reacting to external forces as they demand, and helpless midst the power of the world.
4. Psychotherapy, then, must restore to his awareness the ability to make his own decisions. He must become willing to reverse his thinking, and to understand that what he thought projected its effects on him were made by his projections on the world. The world he sees does therefore not exist. Until this is at least in part accepted, the patient cannot see himself as really capable of making decisions. And he will fight against his freedom because he thinks that it is slavery.
5. The patient need not think of truth as God in order to make progress in salvation. But he must begin to separate truth from illusion, recognizing that they are not the same, and becoming increasingly willing to see illusions as false and to accept the truth as true. His Teacher will take him on from there, as far as he is ready to go. Psychotherapy can only save him time. The Holy Spirit uses time as He thinks best, and He is never wrong. Psychotherapy under His direction is one of the means He uses to save time, and to prepare additional teachers for His work. There is no end to the help that He begins and He directs. By whatever routes He chooses, all psychotherapy leads to God in the end. But that is up to Him. We are all His psychotherapists, for He would have us all be healed in Him.
For a Free Audio of “The Purpose of Psychotherapy,” click HERE
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 10
I seek a future different from the past.
From new perception of the world there comes a future very different from the past. The future now is recognized as but extension of the present. Past mistakes can cast no shadows on it, so that fear has lost its idols and its images, and being formless, it has no effects. Death will not claim the future now, for life is now its goal, and all the needed means are happily provided. Who can grieve or suffer when the present has been freed, extending its security and peace into a quiet future filled with joy?
Father, we were mistaken in the past, and choose to use the present to be free. Now do we leave the future in Your Hands, leaving behind our past mistakes, and sure that You will keep Your present promises, and guide the future in their holy light.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1248: In the various thought systems extant in the world, there is often in-depth discussion of the “unconscious mind” and the “subconscious mind.” In A Course in Miracles’ view, are these the same, different, interchangeable areas of the mind? Since words are merely symbols twice removed and several words can symbolize the same idea (Jesus/Holy Spirit or God/Perfect Love/Oneness), could we just as easily say our guilt remains buried in the “subconscious mind” instead of the “unconscious mind”?
A: The term subconscious does not appear in A Course in Miracles ; but the term unconscious is used to describe the mind’s intentional banishing of something from awareness. The emphasis is on the mind’s decision not to deal with what it has judged fearful, or simply what it wants forever concealed. For example, Jesus explains in Lesson 136 that we “set up a series of defenses to reduce the threat that has been judged real,” and then after we do this, we deliberately forget we did it: “your plan requires that you must forget you made it . . . . (W.pI.136.4:1,3). In this sense, Jesus is not really talking about a “region” in our minds, but the activity of the decision maker.
Q #144: How would one deal with anxiety from the perspective of A Course in Miracles? If you’ve used cognitive behavioral techniques to deal with feelings of anxiety, and you’ve looked at your anxiety from a psychotherapeutic angle, and you also approach it as a student with the Course’s principles but still find yourself anxious in a particular situation, what are you doing wrong?
A: You don’t say how specifically you have approached your anxiety using the Course’s principles. But the fact that you are continuing to feel anxiety does not mean that you are doing anything wrong other than continuing to identify with your ego thought system. Maintaining a false separate identity is very anxiety-producing as we have set it up in our mind.
The Course refers to the source of anxiety in several passages: “When you are anxious, realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego” (T.4.IV.4:1). “The ingeniousness of the ego to preserve itself is enormous, but it stems from the very power of the mind the ego denies. This means that the ego attacks what is preserving it, which must result in extreme anxiety” (T.7.VI.3:1,2). “If you…distort reality you will experience anxiety, depression and ultimately panic, because you are trying to make yourself unreal” (T.9.I.14:4). By establishing a false ego self, we believe we have set ourselves up in opposition to God, Whom we perceive as an insurmountable force Who will in the end seize back what we have stolen from Him — our separate, individual existence. So trying to maintain that identity has to arouse intense anxiety.
You also don’t say what the particular anxiety-arousing situation is, but it must be a symbol in your mind for the separation, which means that it is a situation in which you are perceiving your interests as separate from, and so in competition with, others. It does not matter who you perceive as right or justified in the situation, the fact that you’re not recognizing your shared interests at a deeper level with everyone else in the situation is the source of the anxiety. For it is a reminder of your initial attack on God, when you perceived your interests as separate from His.
The first step in dealing with your anxiety is to recognize that you have displaced this existential anxiety on to an external situation so that you do not remember its source in the mind, where you could do something about it. Jesus points out how we deceive ourselves: “Even if he is fully aware of anxiety he does not perceive its source as his own ego identification, and he always tries to handle it by making some sort of insane ‘arrangement’ with the world. He always perceives this world as outside himself, for this is crucial to his adjustment. He does not realize that he makes this world, for there is no world outside of him” (T.12.III.6:5,6,7).
Once we return our focus from the outer to the inner, where Jesus or the Holy Spirit are waiting for us, we can ask for Their help in seeing the real source of anxiety — the belief in separation — differently. By joining with Them and asking for Their help, we have moved beyond separate interests. For we are now joined with their love, which reminds us that the Love of God that we thought we had attacked and destroyed remains unchanged and available in our mind.