ACIM Text Reading for January 26
Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception
VI. Judgement and the Authority Problem
We have already discussed the Last Judgement, but in insufficient detail. After the Last Judgement there will be no more. Judgement is symbolic because beyond perception there is no judgement. When the Bible says ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’, it means that if you judge the reality of others you will be unable to avoid judging your own.
The choice to judge rather than to know is the cause of the loss of peace. Judgement is the process on which perception but not knowledge rests. I have discussed this before in terms of the selectivity of perception, pointing out that evaluation is its obvious prerequisite. Judgement always involves rejection. It never emphasises only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether in you or in others. What has been perceived and rejected, or judged and found wanting, remains in your mind because it has been perceived. One of the illusions from which you suffer is the belief that what you judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless you also believe that what you judged against does not exist. You evidently do not believe this, or you would not have judged against it. In the end it does not matter whether your judgement is right or wrong. Either way you are placing your belief in the unreal. This cannot be avoided in any type of judgement, because it implies the belief that reality is yours to select from.
You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgement. When you recognise what you are and what your brothers are, you will realise that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from the belief that you are under the coercion of judgement. You do not need judgement to organise your life, and you certainly do not need it to organise yourself. In the presence of knowledge all judgement is automatically suspended, and this is the process that enables recognition to replace perception.
You are very fearful of everything you have perceived but have refused to accept. You believe that, because you have refused to accept it, you have lost control over it. This is why you see it in nightmares, or in pleasant disguises in what seem to be your happier dreams. Nothing that you have refused to accept can be brought into awareness. It is not dangerous in itself, but you have made it seem dangerous to you.
When you feel tired, it is because you have judged yourself as capable of being tired. When you laugh at someone, it is because you have judged him as unworthy. When you laugh at yourself you must laugh at others, if only because you cannot tolerate the idea of being more unworthy than they are. All this makes you feel tired because it is essentially disheartening. You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourself. The strain of constant judgement is virtually intolerable. It is curious that an ability so debilitating would be so deeply cherished. Yet if you wish to be the author of reality, you will insist on holding on to judgement. You will also regard judgement with fear, believing that it will someday be used against you. This belief can exist only to the extent that you believe in the efficacy of judgement as a weapon of defence for your own authority.
God offers only mercy. Your words should reflect only mercy, because that is what you have received and that is what you should give. Justice is a temporary expedient, or an attempt to teach you the meaning of mercy. It is judgemental only because you are capable of injustice.
I have spoken of different symptoms, and at that level there is almost endless variation. There is, however, only one cause for all of them: the authority problem. This is ‘the root of all evil’. Every symptom the ego makes involves a contradiction in terms, because the mind is split between the ego and the Holy Spirit, so that whatever the ego makes is incomplete and contradictory. This untenable position is the result of the authority problem which, because it accepts the one inconceivable thought as its premise, can produce only ideas that are inconceivable.
The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When you have an authority problem, it is always because you believe you are the author of yourself and project your delusion onto others. You then perceive the situation as one in which others are literally fighting you for your authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God. This belief is very frightening to them, but hardly troubles God. He is, however, eager to undo it, not to punish His children, but only because He knows that it makes them unhappy. God’s creations are given their true Authorship, but you prefer to be anonymous when you choose to separate yourself from your Author. Being uncertain of your true Authorship, you believe that your creation was anonymous. This leaves you in a position where it sounds meaningful to believe that you created yourself. The dispute over authorship has left such uncertainty in your mind that it may even doubt whether you really exist at all.
Only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible. You have not usurped the power of God, but you have lost it. Fortunately, to lose something does not mean that it has gone. It merely means that you do not remember where it is. Its existence does not depend on your ability to identify it, or even to place it. It is possible to look on reality without judgement and merely know that it is there.
Peace is a natural heritage of spirit. Everyone is free to refuse to accept his inheritance, but he is not free to establish what his inheritance is. The problem everyone must decide is the fundamental question of authorship. All fear comes ultimately, and sometimes by way of very devious routes, from the denial of Authorship. The offence is never to God, but only to those who deny Him. To deny His Authorship is to deny yourself the reason for your peace, so that you see yourself only in segments. This strange perception is the authority problem.
There is no one who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way. If this is the result of his own free will he must regard his will as not free, or the circular reasoning in this position would be quite apparent. Free will must lead to freedom. Judgement always imprisons because it separates segments of reality by the unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one in his right mind believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed. Instead of ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven’ say, ‘Will ye first the Kingdom of Heaven’, and you have said, ‘I know what I am and I accept my own inheritance’.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 26
My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.
It is surely obvious that if you can be attacked you are not invulnerable. You see attack as a real threat. That is because you believe that you can really attack. And what would have effects through you must also have effects on you. It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now. You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests, rather than against them.
Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack. And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable. Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are. Attack thoughts and invulnerability cannot be accepted together. They contradict each other.
The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first. If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes. Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself. And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself. A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.
Practice with today’s idea will help you to understand that vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of your own thoughts. Nothing except your thoughts can attack you. Nothing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulnerable. And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so.
Six practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. A full two minutes should be attempted for each of them, although the time may be reduced to a minute if the discomfort is too great. Do not reduce it further.
The practice period should begin with repeating the idea for today, then closing your eyes and reviewing the unresolved questions whose outcomes are causing you concern. The concern may take the form of depression, worry, anger, a sense of imposition, fear, foreboding or preoccupation. Any problem as yet unsettled that tends to recur in your thoughts during the day is a suitable subject. You will not be able to use very many for any one practice period, because a longer time than usual should be spent with each one. Today’s idea should be applied as follows:
First, name the situation:
I am concerned about ______.
Then go over every possible outcome that has occurred to you in that connection and which has caused you concern, referring to each one quite specifically, saying:
I am afraid ______ will happen.
If you are doing the exercises properly, you should have some five or six distressing possibilities available for each situation you use, and quite possibly more. It is much more helpful to cover a few situations thoroughly than to touch on a larger number. As the list of anticipated outcomes for each situation continues, you will probably find some of them, especially those that occur to you toward the end, less acceptable to you. Try, however, to treat them all alike to whatever extent you can.
After you have named each outcome of which you are afraid, tell yourself:
That thought is an attack upon myself.
Conclude each practice period by repeating today’s idea to yourself once more.
For a Free Audio Download of Today’s Text Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #400: I have difficulty understanding “looking without judgment.” In one of the answers, you said “to observe your vacillations without judgment, without imposing the categories of desirable and undesirable…(Question #216).” Could you please elaborate on this “without categorizing of desirable and undesirable?” Thank you!
A: The problem with all of our judgments is not that they are bad in themselves, but that our belief in them makes the error of separation real all over again in our minds. When we identify some experiences as good or desirable and others as bad or undesirable, we have fallen into the ego’s trap of opposites, or opposition, which necessarily is an invitation to conflict. While we have a split mind, we are almost certainly going to vacillate between right-minded thinking/ experiences and wrong-minded thinking/experiences. In reality — that is, the oneness of Heaven — neither is real or true. In the context of the earlier question you refer to, to impose categories of desirable and undesirable on them is to give them a reality they do not have. The Holy Spirit’s only judgment is that wrong-mindedness is false and right-mindedness, although still an illusion, is a reflection of what is true.
Now it is true, from our perspective within the split mind, that the Holy Spirit is attempting to lead us toward a recognition that wrong-minded thinking brings us pain and right-minded thinking brings us joy, for in our confused state of mind we believe just the opposite (T.7.X). And only a fool, once we understand our confusion, would deny that one of these states is preferable to or more desirable than the other. But if we begin to judge the ego state as undesirable in the sense that we want to resist it, and condemn ourselves for experiencing it, then we have played right into the ego’s hands, for now there is something real that we need to direct our efforts against.
That is why Jesus emphasizes over and over again in A Course in Miracles, that all we need to do is look with him at what our egos have made without trying to change it (e.g., T.4.III.7,8; T.11.V.1,2), while recognizing its cost. If we try to change it, then we say the ego itself is the problem, when the only problem is our belief in it. And we can’t undo that belief on our own, for that is the belief — that we are on our own. And so we want to look at our ego with Jesus or the Holy Spirit beside us, and share their vision of the unreality of the ego, not judge it as undesirable and attempt to change it or fix it in some way that will make it more acceptable to us — and our ego!
So the goal is not to be judgment-free, for that comes only at the very end of the forgiveness process, but rather to learn more and more not to judge ourselves for having our ego judgments. A helpful tape that elaborates on this learning process is The Meaning of Judgment by Kenneth Wapnick.
Q #1151(ii): Also, what would be the formula for seeing a brother you disliked in the past, but now with spiritual vision instead of judgment? What thoughts/prayers are best to use while with my brothers/sisters in order to let go of judgment?
A: There is no formula as such in the Course, but in many ways seeing your brother as sinless is what the whole Course is about, for when you see the face of Christ in your brother, you then remember God. There are two important parts to the process that leads to this vision of sinlessness: recognizing the purpose judgment serves and the cost of judging. Judgment is the life-blood of the ego; it keeps the belief in differences alive, and the belief in differences keeps separation real. Thus, we judge because we want to remain separate but not be held responsible for that choice. Locating our problems and lack of peace in what others do to us, thereby judging them as sinful and guilty, effectively hides the choice we are upholding in our minds.
Therefore, what we need to do, as Jesus teaches in many different ways, is to look with him at our need to judge, and to learn that the price we are willing to pay to continue to judge is the loss of our own peace. Jesus thus appeals to us: “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment. When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them” (T.3.VI.3:1,2,3). Judging costs us dearly! We lose our peace and all sense of the identity we share with each other. In return we get to be right (at least some of the time), and we keep our special individuality. Is it worth it? We need only look at this, and not force ourselves to stop judging when it is still so meaningful to us. Eventually we will let ourselves feel the pain of continued judgment, and then we will be less willing to pay the price, especially when we also realize that it is not a sacrifice to give up judgment, in view of the fact that we are incapable of judging in the first place ( see M.10.2).
Lesson 335, “I choose to see my brother’s sinlessness” (W.pII.335), might be helpful in keeping these teachings present in your mind. Remember, though, you never want to fight against your need to judge others (or yourself). That will only force you into denial and then your progress will be halted. It is far more helpful to be honest about not wanting to see your brother sinless, and then not condemn yourself for that, yet remind yourself that there’s a price to be paid for such resistance. Gentleness and patience are essential.
In summary: “Your function here on earth is only to forgive him [your brother] , that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him” (W.pI.192.10:6,7,8,9).
Q #1319: I am so desperate to be released from the bondage of self-awareness that is keeping me from Jesus. I get so confused with the abundance of words in the Course. They seem to go nowhere. The overall thought is that I am fooling myself with the notion that I can find salvation. It is as if I am trying to digest the words to feed the hunger that I have for God. The self-awareness stays with me all the time like a sentinel that stops me from letting go of the physical world so I can go into the spirit world. In the simplest way, how can I apply the teaching of A Course in Miracles to this problem of being trapped in self-awareness? How can I use the Course if the words just get trapped inside my head?
A: You can use the Course very effectively by quietly slipping past the words to the Love that inspires them, and just staying with that. That, after all, is the goal of every student’s work with the Course. The words are not what it is about, as Jesus reminds us: “words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality” (M.21.1:9,10).
It is important, as well, not to be upset that you do not experience God’s Love yet. Striving hard to experience Love reinforces the ego’s claim that It is not present within you. We all have split minds; we all are both attracted to that Love and terrified of It, because we know that in Its Presence, our individuality and self-awareness would disappear. We know that our false self is an interference to our awareness of Love’s presence, but part of us does not want to let go of it out of fear. Being upset just makes the ego all the more real. It is better to quietly acknowledge that part of you is still afraid, and that’s okay. Don’t fight against it or judge yourself for it. Gentleness and kindness toward yourself is a very helpful way of accepting the Love that is always present in your mind.
The path of A Course in Miracles is learning how not to take the ego seriously. It is dispelled with a gentle smile, the smile of calm assurance that the ego has no power to change reality; and reality is Love. The ego’s raucous shrieking will fade into its own nothingness as you gradually learn to take the ego less seriously. “The part [of you] that is listening to the Voice for God is calm, always at rest and wholly certain. It is really the only part there is” (W.pI.49.2:1,2).
If you feel it would be helpful, there is nothing wrong with consulting a therapist to help you deal with your concerns and anxieties. Many times, this form of help blends well with our efforts to free ourselves from the blocks in our minds.