ACIM Text Reading for January 12
THE SEPARATION AND THE ATONEMENT
I. The Origins of Separation
To extend is a fundamental aspect of God which He gave to His Son. In the creation, God extended Himself to His creations and imbued them with the same loving Will to create. You have not only been fully created, but have also been created perfect. There is no emptiness in you. Because of your likeness to your Creator you are creative. No child of God can lose this ability because it is inherent in what he is, but he can use it inappropriately by projecting. The inappropriate use of extension, or projection, occurs when you believe that some emptiness or lack exists in you, and that you can fill it with your own ideas instead of truth. This process involves the following steps:
First, you believe that what God created can be changed by your own mind.
Second, you believe that what is perfect can be rendered imperfect or lacking.
Third, you believe that you can distort the creations of God, including yourself.
Fourth, you believe that you can create yourself, and that the direction of your own creation is up to you.
These related distortions represent a picture of what actually occurred in the separation, or the ‘detour into fear’. None of this existed before the separation, nor does it actually exist now. Everything God created is like Him. Extension, as undertaken by God, is similar to the inner radiance that the children of the Father inherit from Him. Its real source is internal. This is as true of the Son as of the Father. In this sense the creation includes both the creation of the Son by God, and the Son’s creations when his mind is healed. This requires God’s endowment of the Son with free will, because all loving creation is freely given in one continuous line, in which all aspects are of the same order.
The Garden of Eden, or the pre-separation condition, was a state of mind in which nothing was needed. When Adam listened to the ‘lies of the serpent’, all he heard was untruth. You do not have to continue to believe what is not true unless you choose to do so. All that can literally disappear in the twinkling of an eye because it is merely a misperception. What is seen in dreams seems to be very real. Yet the Bible says that a deep sleep fell upon Adam, and nowhere is there reference to his waking up. The world has not yet experienced any comprehensive reawakening or rebirth. Such a rebirth is impossible as long as you continue to project or miscreate. It still remains within you, however, to extend as God extended His Spirit to you. In reality this is your only choice, because your free will was given you for your joy in creating the perfect.
All fear is ultimately reducible to the basic misperception that you have the ability to usurp the power of God. Of course, you neither can nor have been able to do this. Here is the real basis for your escape from fear. The escape is brought about by your acceptance of the Atonement, which enables you to realise that your errors never really occurred. Only after the deep sleep fell upon Adam could he experience nightmares. If a light is suddenly turned on while someone is dreaming a fearful dream, he may initially interpret the light itself as part of his dream and be afraid of it. However, when he awakens, the light is correctly perceived as the release from the dream, which is then no longer accorded reality. This release does not depend on illusions. The knowledge that illuminates not only sets you free, but also shows you clearly that you are free.
Whatever lies you may believe are of no concern to the miracle, which can heal any of them with equal ease. It makes no distinctions among misperceptions. Its sole concern is to distinguish between truth on the one hand, and error on the other. Some miracles may seem to be of greater magnitude than others. But remember the first principle in this course; there is no order of difficulty in miracles. In reality you are perfectly unaffected by all expressions of lack of love. These can be from yourself and others, from yourself to others, or from others to you. Peace is an attribute in you. You cannot find it outside. Illness is some form of external searching. Health is inner peace. It enables you to remain unshaken by lack of love from without and capable, through your acceptance of miracles, of correcting the conditions proceeding from lack of love in others.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 12
I am upset because I see a meaningless world.
The importance of this idea lies in the fact that it contains a correction for a major perceptual distortion. You think that what upsets you is a frightening world, or a sad world, or a violent world, or an insane world. All these attributes are given it by you. The world is meaningless in itself.
These exercises are done with eyes open. Look around you, this time quite slowly. Try to pace yourself so that the slow shifting of your glance from one thing to another involves a fairly constant time interval. Do not allow the time of the shift to become markedly longer or shorter, but try, instead, to keep a measured, even tempo throughout. What you see does not matter. You teach yourself this as you give whatever your glance rests on equal attention and equal time. This is a beginning step in learning to give them all equal value.
As you look about you, say to yourself:
I think I see a fearful world, a dangerous world, a hostile world,
a sad world, a wicked world, a crazy world,
and so on, using whatever descriptive terms happen to occur to you. If terms which seem positive rather than negative occur to you, include them. For example, you might think of “a good world,” or “a satisfying world.” If such terms occur to you, use them along with the rest. You may not yet understand why these “nice” adjectives belong in these exercises but remember that a “good world” implies a “bad” one, and a “satisfying world” implies an “unsatisfying” one. All terms which cross your mind are suitable subjects for today’s exercises. Their seeming quality does not matter.
Be sure that you do not alter the time intervals between applying today’s idea to what you think is pleasant and what you think is unpleasant. For the purposes of these exercises, there is no difference between them. At the end of the practice period, add:
But I am upset because I see a meaningless world.
What is meaningless is neither good nor bad. Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you? If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy. But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be. It is this you see in it. It is this that is meaningless in truth. Beneath your words is written the Word of God. The truth upsets you now, but when your words have been erased, you will see His. That is the ultimate purpose of these exercises.
Three or four times is enough for practicing the idea for today. Nor should the practice periods exceed a minute. You may find even this too long. Terminate the exercises whenever you experience a sense of strain.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1349: I have a question regarding the following quotes from the text that refer to God / the Holy Spirit and the Course confronting us with our separated world and ego.
“You are in an impossible situation only because you think it is possible to be in one. You would be in an impossible situation if God showed you your perfection, and proved to you that you were wrong. This would demonstrate that the perfect are inadequate to bring themselves to the awareness of their perfection, and thus side with the belief that those who have everything need help and are therefore helpless” (T.6.IV.10:1,2,3).
“What would be gained if God proved to you that you have thought insanely? . . . If He confronted the self you made with the truth He created for you, what could you be but afraid? You would doubt your right mind, which is the only place where you can find the sanity He gave you” (T.6.IV.11:5,9,10).
I understand that “God does not teach” and He does not prove to us that we have thought insanely. However, isn’t that exactly what A Course in Miracles is trying to do, prove to us that we are indeed NOT living in a real world and are NOT separate from God? Isn’t the Course, thereby, putting us into an impossible situation and contradicting itself grossly in this respect? What am I misperceiving? Will we not indeed start to “doubt the only place where God put His sanity,” being “taught” that we are indeed NOT apart from the divine? Could this perhaps be the reason I have sometimes felt that the Course is “impossible to do” — not from an emotional but from a logical point of view?
A: Being asked to undo what never happened is indeed a paradox, if not a pretty good koan. And yes, the Course often does send our logic-driven intellects into shock, while also revealing to us the strict logic of the thought system that has compelled our belief and commitment, deluding us into thinking insanity is sanity. On the one hand, if God Himself were to communicate our wrongness and insanity to us directly, we could not but conclude that our existence apart from Him is somehow real and that we should indeed be afraid of the consequences of what we have done.
On the other hand, though, our experience is that we are alive here as separate and apart from God, but that something is dreadfully wrong with that. What appears as A Course in Miracles is really an answer to this call for help that emanates from deep inside us. Yes, the Course is telling us that the world is not real and that we are not separate from God — only in an illusion could this be so, but in truth, there can’t even be an illusion of separation. We thus are confronted with our massive self-deception, but we are given the means of dealing with the underlying fear that inevitably rises to the surface when we connect with this message. We are taught that guilt and fear are not justified in the face of our now-exposed plot to hide what we have conceived of as our treachery and covered over with our “face of innocence.” But it is not God Who exposes our deception, because God could not respond to what does not exist. A part of our own minds has chosen to question its own operating system, and the teachings of the Course symbolize this process going on in our own minds of questioning, asking for help, re-evaluating, and finally choosing to correct what is now seen as but a faulty choice, which never actually happened in reality.
The Course is written on a high intellectual level, as many have observed, and many others have bemoaned. Yet, there is a point in our work with the Course at which our intellects are seen to be part of the problem, as they serve primarily to sustain our self-perception as autonomous beings, capable of recognizing and solving problems to preserve our species and even the universe itself. Our intellects can take us only so far with the process of healing our minds because they function essentially in the realm of duality, and as many mystics have said, the intellect must be transcended in order to experience God directly. All this is a way of saying that there are no satisfactory intellectual answers to some of the questions that naturally arise as we delve into the Course’s teachings. Our difficulties point back to what we have done to ourselves: “When you made visible what is not true, what is true became invisible to you” (T.12.VIII.3:1). “To you the miracle cannot seem natural, because what you have done to hurt your mind has made it so unnatural that it does not remember what is natural to it. And when you are told what is natural, you cannot understand it” (T.12.II.3:1,2).
Finally, there is that statement that many students have found frustrating and quite humbling, where Jesus gently pokes us in our intellects and says: “You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is. Yet we have emphasized that you need understand nothing. Salvation is easy just because it asks nothing you cannot give right now” (T.18.IV.7:5,6,7). What this comes down to is balancing our intellectual efforts with the humble recognition that we cannot get ourselves out of the mess we got ourselves into without help from outside our familiar thought system. We thus use our intellects to get beyond our intellects. We learn to trust the inner Presence that symbolizes the restoration of our minds to the state of pure Oneness with our Source.