ACIM Text Reading for January 16
Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement
V. The Function of the Miracle Worker
Before miracle workers are ready to undertake their function in this world, it is essential that they fully understand the fear of release. Otherwise they may unwittingly foster the belief that release is imprisonment, a belief that is already very prevalent. This misperception arises in turn from the belief that harm can be limited to the body. That is because of the underlying fear that the mind can hurt itself. None of these errors is meaningful, because the miscreations of the mind do not really exist. This recognition is a far better protective device than any form of level confusion, because it introduces correction at the level of the error. It is essential to remember that only the mind can create, and that correction belongs at the thought level. To amplify an earlier statement, spirit is already perfect and therefore does not require correction. The body does not exist except as a learning device for the mind. This learning device is not subject to errors of its own, because it cannot create, It is obvious, then, that inducing the mind to give up its miscreations is the only application of creative ability that is truly meaningful.
Magic is the mindless or the miscreative use of mind. Physical medications are forms of ‘spells’, but if you are afraid to use the mind to heal, you should not attempt to do so. The very fact that you are afraid makes your mind vulnerable to miscreation. You are therefore likely to misunderstand any healing that might occur, and because egocentricity and fear usually occur together, you may be unable to accept the real Source of the healing. Under these conditions, it is safer for you to rely temporarily on physical healing devices, because you cannot misperceive them as your own creations. As long as your sense of vulnerability persists, you should, not attempt to perform miracles.
I have already said that miracles are expressions of miracle-mindedness, and miracle-mindedness means right-mindedness. The right-minded neither exalt nor depreciate the mind of the miracle worker or the miracle receiver. However, as a correction, the miracle need not await the right-mindedness of the receiver. In fact, its purpose is to restore him to his right mind. It is essential, however, that the miracle worker be in his right mind, however briefly, or he will be unable to re-establish right-mindedness in someone else.
The healer who relies on his own readiness is endangering his understanding. You are perfectly safe as long as you are completely unconcerned about your readiness, but maintain a consistent trust in mine. If your miracle working inclinations are not functioning properly, it is always because fear has intruded on your right-mindedness and has turned it upside down. All forms of not-right-mindedness are the result of refusal to accept the Atonement for yourself. If you do accept it, you are in a position to recognise that those who need healing are simply those who have not realised that right-mindedness is healing.
The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself. This means you recognise that mind is the only creative level, and that its errors are healed by the Atonement. Once you accept this, your mind can only heal. By denying your mind any destructive potential and reinstating its purely constructive powers, you place yourself in a position to undo the level confusion of others. The message you then give to them is the truth that their minds are similarly constructive, and their miscreations cannot hurt them. By affirming this you release the mind from over-evaluating its own learning device, and restore the mind to its true position as the learner.
It should be emphasised again that the body does not learn any more than it creates. As a learning device it merely follows the learner, but if it is falsely endowed with self-initiative, it becomes a serious obstruction to the very learning it should facilitate. Only the mind is capable of illumination. Spirit is already illuminated and the body in itself is too dense. The mind, however, can bring its illumination to the body by recognising that it is not the learner, and is therefore unamenable to learning. The body is, however, easily brought into alignment with a mind that has learned to look beyond it toward the light.
Corrective learning always begins with the awakening of spirit, and the turning away from the belief in physical sight. This often entails fear, because you are afraid of what your spiritual sight will show you. I said before that the Holy Spirit cannot see error, and is capable only of looking beyond it to the defence of Atonement. There is no doubt that this may produce discomfort, yet the discomfort is not the final outcome of the perception. When the Holy Spirit is permitted to look upon the defilement of the altar, He also looks immediately toward the Atonement. Nothing He perceives can induce fear. Everything that results from spiritual awareness is merely channelised toward correction. Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need for correction into awareness.
The fear of healing arises in the end from an unwillingness to accept unequivocally that healing is necessary. What the physical eye sees is not corrective, nor can error be corrected by any device that can be seen physically. As long as you believe in what your physical sight tells you, your attempts at correction will be misdirected. The real vision is obscured, because you cannot endure to see your own defiled altar. But since the altar has been defiled, your state becomes doubly dangerous unless it is perceived.
Healing is an ability that developed after the separation, before which it was unnecessary. Like all aspects of the belief in space and time, it is temporary. However, as long as time persists, healing is needed as a means of protection. This is because healing rests on charity, and charity is a way of perceiving the perfection of another even if you cannot perceive it in yourself. Most of the loftier concepts of which you are capable now are time-dependent. Charity is really a weaker reflection of a much more powerful love-encompassment that is far beyond any form of charity you can conceive of as yet. Charity is essential to right-mindedness in the limited sense in which it can now be attained.
Charity is a way of looking at another as if he had already gone far beyond his actual accomplishments in time. Since his own thinking is faulty he cannot see the Atonement for himself, or he would have no need of charity. The charity that is accorded him is both an acknowledgement that he needs help, and a recognition that he will accept it. Both of these perceptions clearly imply their dependence on time, making it apparent that charity still lies within the limitations of this world. I said before that only revelation transcends time. The miracle, as an expression of charity, can only shorten it. It must be understood, however, that whenever you offer a miracle to another, you are shortening the suffering of both of you. This corrects retroactively as well as progressively.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 16
I have no neutral thoughts.
The idea for today is a beginning step in dispelling the belief that your thoughts have no effect. Everything you see is the result of your thoughts. There is no exception to this fact. Thoughts are not big or little; powerful or weak. They are merely true or false. Those that are true create their own likeness. Those that are false make theirs.
There is no more self-contradictory concept than that of “idle thoughts.” What gives rise to the perception of a whole world can hardly be called idle. Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions. You can indeed multiply nothing, but you will not extend it by doing so.
Besides your recognizing that thoughts are never idle, salvation requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war; either love or fear. A neutral result is impossible because a neutral thought is impossible. There is such a temptation to dismiss fear thoughts as unimportant, trivial and not worth bothering about that it is essential you recognize them all as equally destructive, but equally unreal. We will practice this idea in many forms before you really understand it.
In applying the idea for today, search your mind for a minute or so with eyes closed, and actively seek not to overlook any “little” thought that may tend to elude the search. This is quite difficult until you get used to it. You will find that it is still hard for you not to make artificial distinctions. Every thought that occurs to you, regardless of the qualities that you assign to it, is a suitable subject for applying today’s idea.
In the practice periods, first repeat the idea to yourself, and then as each one crosses your mind hold it in awareness while you tell yourself:
This thought about ________ is not a neutral thought.
That thought about ________ is not a neutral thought.
As usual, use today’s idea whenever you are aware of a particular thought that arouses uneasiness. The following form is suggested for this purpose:
This thought about ________ is not a neutral thought, because I have no neutral thoughts.
Four or five practice periods are recommended, if you find them relatively effortless. If strain is experienced, three will be enough. The length of the exercise period should also be reduced if there is discomfort.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q # 939: A Course in Miracles says that physical medications are forms of spells. Would you explain what this means? Didn’t God say he gave us everything we need, including the herbs to make medications?
A: While the Bible and our Western religions are based on the premise that God created the world and everything in it, A Course in Miracles is not. According to the Course, the world is “false perception” (W.pII.3.1:1) , was “made as an attack on God” (W.pII.3.2:1) , and “meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him” (W.pII.3.2:4). Nothing in this physical world could have come from God because He is perfect oneness while this is a world of separation and multiplicity. So clearly, God is not in this world and does not even know about it. This entire world, our individual identity, our body, and all of our problems, only exist in our mind. We made all of this up precisely to keep the Love of God away. We made up everything that seems to help us or give us pleasure for the same reason.
In one sense, whenever we seem to be helped by something external, we are telling God that we do not need His Love because we found something better. This is what the Course calls magic — the attempt to solve problems externally by changing something in the physical world. We practice this type of magic virtually all the time. When we feel upset by people’s words or actions, we want to change them . When we have physical discomfort, we treat the body. The trouble with this approach is that it can never lead us to a lasting state of peace. If we do manage to get someone else to change, there will always be another person who upsets us. If we take a pill for our headache, sooner or later another part of our body will act up.
Jesus gave us his course to help us realize that our attempts at magic do not yield lasting or satisfying results because they do not address our one real problem — the guilt provoking belief that we separated from God and destroyed His Love. The Course informs us that this self- accusation is false and urges us to make our reawakening to the peace of God our singular goal. The method it lays out for doing so involves changing internal teachers. This is the Course’s definition of a miracle — the shift in perception from the ego’s thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, to the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness. When we are willing to ask for this shift again and again, we will be led through a gentle process of awakening in which we ultimately realize that all our problems are made up and have no power to take away our peace or happiness.
Our choice in any seemingly problematic situation is very simple. We can attempt magic by trying to change the outward picture of our life. Or, we can choose the miracle by asking for help to change the inner condition (our thinking) that lead us to view the picture as a problem. The passage your question refers to states, “Magic is the mindless or the miscreative use of mind. Physical medications are forms of ‘spells,’ but if you are afraid to use the mind to heal, you should not attempt to do so” (T.2.V.2: 1,2). In other words, because we still fear God’s Love and the power of our own mind, there are times when choosing magic is the best we can do. Jesus wants us to know that this is okay. While it will not give us what we truly want, using magic is not bad, evil, or sinful.
So if you have a physical problem and believe that a medication will help you, you should take it and not feel guilty. The medication will not bring you closer to the peace of God. But we can get closer to that peace by taking our medicine with a gentle smile that says, “I’m scared right now and that’s all right.”
Q #128: I have struggled with clinical depression for the last five years or so. When I do not take medication I become very tired and am not able to concentrate. I find this condition difficult to live with. However, when I do take the medication I am able to concentrate and I do not feel tired. My question is: A Course in Miracles says that we are not bodies. Our bodies are projections made by the ego. If there is something wrong with the body, the ego caused it. What do I have to do to heal this depression on a spiritual level so that I will not have to take this medication anymore?
A: Forgive. That’s all you have to do.
In case that answer seems too flip, a few more words may be helpful. Everything we do here in the world to address our bodily limits and needs is what the Course calls magic (for a further discussion of magic, in the context of addictions and 12-step programs, see Question #57). It’s all magic because we are not addressing the real problem and source of all of our symptoms, including experiencing ourselves as a body. The real problem is always and only the guilt in our ego mind. And the only way to address that problem is through practicing forgiveness, which means learning, with the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit, not to judge the projections of our ego so that they can be withdrawn and healed in the mind where they originated.
Now there may be a stigma associated in your mind with taking medication for depression and that may in fact be where you want to begin with your forgiveness process. The fact is, eating and sleeping are also forms of magic we use to cope with what otherwise would be unpleasant or dysfunctional states. But most of us do not ask what we would have to do to heal our hunger or weariness on a spiritual level so that we would no longer need to take food or to sleep anymore. And the Course tells us that all illusions are the same — there is no hierarchy in reality (T.26.VII.6). So you may first want to learn to forgive yourself for your limitations, that is, learn not to judge yourself for the fact that you perceive yourself as a body, with all the needs that accompany seeing yourself in a bodily state, including taking medication for depression. Jesus gently reminds us, “Do not despair, then, because of limitations. It is your function to escape from them, but not to be without them” (M.26.4:1,2).
Then, rather than attempting to find a spiritual means to wean yourself from your antidepressant, it may be much more beneficial to ask for help in getting in touch with the underlying guilt that is triggering the symptoms of depression, so that can be healed. All symptoms are simply signals that we still want the separation and all its ramifications to be real. But that desire has a cost and that cost is what we want to begin to get more in touch with. Seeing ourselves as eternally separate from love, with no way home, is the most depressing state we could possibly experience.
But the good news is that the separation is not really true. As we see the cost of believing in the separation — which includes depression over the perceived hopelessness of our present “reality” – – the desire for a different way of seeing will gradually grow within us, until that becomes all that we want. For we will have learned that the only place of real hope is in our mind, where the presence of love is always available to us to lead us back home.