ACIM Text Reading for January 27
Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception
VII. Creating versus the Self-Image
Every system of thought must have a starting point. It begins with either a making or a creating, a difference we have already discussed. Their resemblance lies in their power as foundations. Their difference lies in what rests upon them. Both are cornerstones for systems of belief by which one lives. It is a mistake to believe that a thought system based on lies is weak. Nothing made by a child of God is without power. It is essential to realise this, because otherwise you will be unable to escape from the prison you have made.
You cannot resolve the authority problem by depreciating the power of your mind. To do so is to deceive yourself, and this will hurt you because you really understand the strength of the mind. You also realise that you cannot weaken it, any more than you can weaken God. The ‘devil’ is a frightening concept because he seems to be extremely powerful and extremely active. He is perceived as a force in combat with God, battling Him for possession of His creations. The devil deceives by lies, and builds kingdoms in which everything is in direct opposition to God. Yet he attracts men rather than repels them, and they are willing to ‘sell’ him their souls in return for gifts of no real worth. This makes absolutely no sense.
We have discussed the fall or separation before, but its meaning must be clearly understood. The separation is a system of thought real enough in time, though not in eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer. The fruit of only one tree was ‘forbidden’ in the symbolic garden. But God could not have forbidden it, or it could not have been eaten. If God knows His children, and I assure you that He does, would He have put them in a position where their own destruction was possible? The ‘forbidden tree’ was named the ‘tree of knowledge’. Yet God created knowledge and gave it freely to His creations. The symbolism here has been given many interpretations, but you may be sure that any interpretation that sees either God or His creations as capable of destroying Their Own purpose is in error.
Eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a symbolic expression for usurping the ability for self-creating. This is the only sense in which God and His creations are not co-creators. The belief that they are is implicit in the ‘self-concept’, or the tendency of the self to make an image of itself. Images are perceived, not known. Knowledge cannot deceive, but perception can. You can perceive yourself as self-creating, but you cannot do more than believe it. You cannot make it true. And, as I said before, when you finally perceive correctly you can only be glad that you cannot. Until then, however, the belief that you can is the foundation stone in your thought system, and all your defences are used to attack ideas that might bring it to light. You still believe you are an image of your own making. Your mind is split with the Holy Spirit on this point, and there is no resolution while you believe the one thing that is literally inconceivable. That is why you cannot create and are filled with fear about what you make.
The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the ‘devil’. It is powerful, active, destructive and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Look at your life and see what the devil has made. But realise that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth, because its foundation is a lie. Your creation by God is the only Foundation that cannot be shaken, because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning. Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. Your Self s still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death.
The branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of life, and your own thought system will stand corrected. It cannot stand otherwise. You who fear salvation are choosing death. Life and death, light and darkness, knowledge and perception, are irreconcilable. To believe that they can be reconciled is to believe that God and His Son can not. Only the oneness of knowledge is free of conflict. Your kingdom is not of this world because it was given you from beyond this world. Only in this world is the idea of an authority problem meaningful. The world is not left by death but by truth, and truth can be known by all those for whom the Kingdom was created, and for whom it waits.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 27
Above all else I want to see.
Today’s idea expresses something stronger than mere determination. It gives vision priority among your desires. You may feel hesitant about using the idea, on the grounds that you are not sure you really mean it. This does not matter. The purpose of today’s exercises is to bring the time when the idea will be wholly true a little nearer.
There may be a great temptation to believe that some sort of sacrifice is being asked of you when you say you want to see above all else. If you become uneasy about the lack of reservation involved, add:
Vision has no cost to anyone.
If fear of loss still persists, add further:
It can only bless.
The idea for today needs many repetitions for maximum benefit. It should be used at least every half hour, and more if possible. You might try for every fifteen or twenty minutes. It is recommended that you set a definite time interval for using the idea when you wake or shortly afterwards, and attempt to adhere to it throughout the day. It will not be difficult to do this, even if you are engaged in conversation, or otherwise occupied at the time. You can still repeat one short sentence to yourself without disturbing anything.
The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today’s idea to be true? Answer one of these questions, and you have answered the other. You will probably miss several applications, and perhaps quite a number. Do not be disturbed by this, but do try to keep on your schedule from then on. If only once during the day you feel that you were perfectly sincere while you were repeating today’s idea, you can be sure that you have saved yourself many years of effort.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #456: This is a three part question:
i. My understanding of the teachings of A Course in Miracles is that eventually we realize we are all one spirit. Do we then lose our awareness or memory of the experiences we had as individuals? Jesus figured out the truth while here on earth, yet seems to interact with those of us still experiencing the dream of individuality as the individual Jesus. So will the rest of us, after we realize the truth, still retain our individual selves? I realize I am asking this question as someone who likes my “self” and the other selves I interact with, i.e., family and friends.
A: Your awareness of yourself as an individual will last only as long as you value that identity. It is never taken away by Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The focus of our study and practice is learning that our interests are really the same, not separate; and that would lead us to the next step, which is recognizing that not only do we share the same interests, but we share the same self as well. We all share the same ego thought system, and we all share the same right-minded thought system of forgiveness, as well as the power to choose between the two. As long as we are attracted to an identity as an individual self, though, we will resist this teaching rather strenuously. There would have to be some motivation to move beyond individuality, and what Jesus teaches us is that if we looked deeply and honestly at our lives as individual selves, we would conclude that we are paying a heavy price to sustain that existence. That does not mean it is bad or wrong to enjoy existing in this world. He asks only that we look openly at the picture, and not be deceived by the glitter of the frame (T.17.IV.8,9). “The body is a limit on love” (T.18.VIII.1:2). So valuing bodily existence is valuing limited love. That is the connection Jesus wants us to make, just so that we could be aware that we are deliberately (once we remember we are decision-making minds) cutting ourselves off from the totality of the love that comes with the memory of our oneness as God’s Son. Again, liking your self and your family and friends is not wrong or bad; just be aware that this is not all you are or they are. If living in this world is working for you and you are happy and content with it, then it would be foolish to change it. Recall that the Course came to two people who were no longer content with the way things were going and were determined to find a “better way.”
Jesus stands outside the dream of individuality gently helping us to awaken from it. He appears to be an individual relating to us as individuals, but if you consider the above quote about the body being a limit on love, you can begin to understand that he appears that way because we choose to see him that way. Love is abstract — formless — but our perception conforms to our identity. Were we to let go of the need to limit love, we would experience Jesus quite differently — and ourselves as well. The trouble is, we don’t consciously realize that this is what we are doing, which is why so much of the Course is directed at helping us realize that we have a mind and that practically everything we do is a defense against our realizing that. We don’t want to remember we are decision-making minds, because on some level we know where that realization would take us. We would eventually see clearly what individuality is all about, and it would not be a very pretty picture. To avoid those consequences, we try to make Jesus like us, but that will never square with what he spends so much time teaching us in the Course. It is much more helpful, and would reduce the internal conflict, to state simply and honestly, that you like being a self amidst other individual selves, and that some day you may have a reason to reconsider that choice, but right now you don’t. Period! That’s where you are, and it’s okay. Jesus’ love for you is not lessened in the least.
ii. What are our real creations? Are they what are left when we awake from the dream? Are we creating even as we dream?
A: Please see Question #103 for the definition of creations. Nothing real ever takes places in the dream. The Self that never left Its Source continually creates, which means simply that love always extends itself.
iii. If it only takes one to awake from the dream for all to awake and one cannot find Atonement alone and Jesus achieved this, why are the rest of us still dreaming?
A: From our perspective within the dream, there is no way of our comprehending this process; it cannot be solved through logical reasoning. Our framework for understanding is severely limited, because we believe we are actually here, and that belief is intended to push truth away and replace it with another system of thought that is entirely false. Very humbling! It is virtually impossible for us not to think in terms of separate bodies in time and space, but Jesus is not referring to bodies in time and space. Nevertheless, we can say at least this much — that there is one mind, and the illusion of many minds, all asleep and dreaming. When you are in the real world you know there is only one mind. So the only mind that needs to awaken is yours.
Q#139: I listened to the tape set Form vs. Content: Sex and Money. It said that you project out from inside your beliefs about money. How do you find out exactly what your beliefs are so that you can change them?
A: Before considering how you may identify your beliefs about money, a little clarification of A Course in Miracles approach to all of our ego thoughts and beliefs may be helpful first. We want to become aware of them so that we can accept responsibility for choosing them, but not so that we can change them. That would put us in charge of the process of Atonement, a surefire formula for failure. The goal with the Course is that we make our unconscious thoughts conscious, accept responsibility for choosing them, recognize what purpose they serve in the ego’s scheme, and then release them along with the guilt they necessarily entail to the healing light of the Holy Spirit or Jesus. But we don’t want to try to change them! For that would make them real and would involve substituting one ego belief for another.
Money is simply an external form or symbol onto which we project our beliefs about ourselves. So what are your attitudes and feelings about money? By the way, there are no right or wrong, good or bad, answers to the questions that follow. All answers will reflect basic ego beliefs about yourself and others, of either a special love or special hate nature. In the end, we will realize they are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad, but simply untrue. But we first have to look at them, because we do believe them, and look with Jesus or the Holy Spirit beside us so that we can look openly and honestly.
Do you feel you never have enough? Are you afraid of losing the money you have? Does having money make you feel better or more secure about yourself? Do you save it as a symbol of security and safety against unforeseen dangers and obstacles? Or do you tend to spend it as quickly as you get it and are always in debt? Do you see having money as a symbol of status and success, a measure of your worth? If you don’t have much money, do you try to pretend you have more? Or do you wear your poverty as a badge of specialness? If you have lots of money, do you like to flaunt it? Or do you try to keep a low profile about it? How do you feel about sharing your money with others or giving it away? Are you jealous or resentful of those who have more money than you? How do you feel your parents have been towards you with money? If you are in a relationship with someone else which involves joint management of money and resources, is there conflict around handling it? What is the nature of the disagreements you have and what judgments do you find yourself making about how the other handles money?
As you reflect on your answers to these and other related questions about money that may come to mind, you want then to get in touch with the underlying thoughts, feelings and beliefs that these represent. These may be thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, scarcity, deprivation, limitation, insecurity, fear, victimization, irresponsibility, shame and guilt, pride, triumph, superiority, generosity, power, control, and so on. The important recognition that you want to foster is that these are basic feelings about yourself that have nothing to do with money, or other people, or anything of the world. These are repercussions from seriously entertaining the thought of separation in your mind and wanting it to be true. For the thought of separation is nothing less than the desire to be separate from love, including a willingness to attack and destroy love in order to establish an individual self. And in that process we believe we have destroyed our own value. And so all of the accompanying feelings of worthlessness, which become too painful to hold in our mind and acknowledge, become projected out onto a world of our own making, with many convenient targets and repositories for those feelings, including money. And then those external symbols seem to be the problem, rather than the thought of separation in our mind through which we devalued our true Self. At that point, the ego thought system is well protected from the Holy Spirit’s Atonement principle, which says separation is impossible except in illusory dreams and nothing has really happened to deprive us of the love that we are. But once we understand the ego’s purpose for the world, including money, we can look at all of it differently, and know it is a window to our own unconscious mind. And now we can make a different choice, remembering our true Value as God’s holy Son