ACIM Reading for December 20
THE CIRCULAR WAY
The transient things are not of God.
For He Creates like to Himself. How can it be
That what the One Eternal calls His Own
Has but a little life, with breath on loan
And mortgaged unto death? We seem to go
From birth to certain death, and do not know
What goes before or after. Yet we tread
A golden circle, and are surely led
Back to the Source of our infinity,
To which we will return as certainty.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 20
We stand together, Christ and I, in peace
And certainty of purpose. And in Him
Is His Creator, as He is in me.
My oneness with the Christ establishes me as Your Son, beyond the reach of time, and wholly free of every law but Yours. I have no self except the Christ in me. I have no purpose but His Own. And He is like His Father. Thus must I be one with You as well as Him. For who is Christ except Your Son as You created Him? And what am I except the Christ in me?
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #687: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles now for a year and a half. I do a great deal of study of other religions, in an effort to understand others better, seek common ground and connectedness, and to find what feels most “right” for me. I have come to realize that there is a number of metaphysical based religions, such as Christian Science, New Thought, Unity, and Religious Science. I am wondering what organized religion do you see as being most closely identified with the teachings of the Course? I feel my purpose, or calling, is toward ministry, but not in the traditional sense. Can you offer any suggestion for direction?
Also, I am a reader of various authors who write from the perspective of the Course, and I have varying reactions to their teachings. How can one be certain that a teacher, who proclaims to understand the Course, has the correct interpretation, given that so many have interpreted the bible in opposing ways?
A: Although, as you observe, the Course shares some principles in common with other religious teachings, it really has its own unique contribution to make to facilitating achievement of the objective of any true spiritual teaching — to lead us along the path to egolessness. And so we would suggest that it may be more helpful to understand how it differs from other teachings — so one can make an informed choice about whether this is the path to embrace for oneself — than to identify its similarities with them.
So, while the Course, for example, shares an emphasis on forgiveness with many other teachings, including Christianity and the metaphysical religions you mention, it defines forgiveness and its practice in a unique way, based on the metaphysical principles that the world and the self we think we are illusory, projected symbols of guilt (W.pII.1). And although it shares with other paths an underlying assumption about the primacy of mind, its purpose in understanding the “power” of the mind to manifest in form is not to access that power in order to control it but rather to demonstrate how painful the results ultimately are if the power is guided by a belief in need and limitation. And while the Course shares the basic premise that the world is an illusion with other spiritualities, including some Eastern religions and New Age teachings, it attributes no divine purpose to the illusion and offers a unique explanation for the world’s origin — that it is the result of an ego-based conspiracy promulgated in opposition to God, including a seeming attack on love in order to exclude it from the mind and the mind from it (W.pII.3).
The Course is also unique among the world’s spiritualities in its blending of the practical and the sublime, in a beautifully integrated whole that never lets us forget where we are heading, at the same time not asking us to deny where we believe we are. It does this through its use of a sophisticated psychodynamic understanding of the ego thought system — drawing on the insights of Freudian psychology with its analysis of guilt, denial and projection as they play out in our special relationships — presented within the uncompromising framework of its non-dualistic metaphysics, which holds that the thought of separation, as well as all its seeming consequences, is an illusion.
In response to your feeling of being called toward non-traditional ministry, the Course offers a relatively unique perspective on that as well (M.in;1). It would never advocate any specific role for any of us in the world, but rather would ask us whether we are demonstrating its principles of forgiveness in how we live our lives, whatever we may be doing. And this demonstration has nothing to do with our words and actions, and everything to do with our underlying thoughts and attitude. Are we choosing to remember in each moment that genuine happiness and peace come only from a recognition of our shared interest with all our brothers and sisters, rather than from a belief in separate, competing interests based on meeting our own personal needs? And the way we remember is to become vigilant for all of our ego motivations, so that we can recognize them and then choose a different teacher — the Holy Spirit — to guide us in our thinking. And that is the most powerful ministry we can embrace, for it will serve as a reminder to all our brothers and sisters that the same choice for peace lies within their own minds as well.
Jesus invites us to be a part of his ministry by sharing in his peace. In his own words, “Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you” (T.11.VI.7:3,4). And we demonstrate this by recognizing that our only responsibility is to choose forgiveness. The extension of the peace that follows from this choice is not our concern (T.16.II.1:3,4,5). We are not the ones who extend peace or persuade others to change their minds. The Holy Spirit does that through us, when we are His willing instruments. And again, we become his channels by getting ourselves out of the way, through practicing forgiveness.
As for discerning genuine teachers of the Course, it is always the underlying content that defines the real teacher, regardless of the specific form they present. Just as we have described the nature of a real ministry being defined, not by the externals, but by the underlying thought of forgiveness, so any authentic teacher of the Course will be committed to a consistency across every level of thinking, with a willingness to step aside from the ego in every moment and let the love and gentle wisdom of the Holy Spirit flow through. This may not be easy for us to discern since, so long as we remain identified with our own egos, our own projections of guilt will interfere. But so long as we maintain a willingness to recognize our own ego, we can trust that our ability to discern the help we really need will become increasingly accessible to us (e.g., T.11.V). The true teacher will be one who always directs us to our inner Teacher, with no interest in establishing himself or herself as our teacher.