ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 29

ACIM Text Reading for February 29

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

VIII. The Unbelievable Belief

We have said that without projection there can be no anger, but it is also true that without extension there can be no love. These reflect a fundamental law of the mind, and therefore one that always operates. It is the law by which you create and were created. It is the law that unifies the Kingdom, and keeps it in the Mind of God. To the ego, the law is perceived as a means of getting rid of something it does not want. To the Holy Spirit, it is the fundamental law of sharing, by which you give what you value in order to keep it in your mind. To the Holy Spirit it is the law of extension. To the ego it is the law of deprivation. It therefore produces abundance or scarcity, depending on how you choose to apply it. This choice is up to you, but it is not up to you to decide whether or not you will utilise the law. Every mind must project or extend, because that is how it lives, and every mind is life.

The ego’s use of projection must be fully understood before the inevitable association between projection and anger can be finally undone. The ego always tries to preserve conflict. It is very ingenious in devising ways that seem to diminish conflict, because it does not want you to find conflict so intolerable that you will insist on giving it up. The ego therefore tries to persuade you that it can free you of conflict, lest you give the ego up and free yourself. Using its own warped version of the laws of God, the ego utilises the power of the mind only to defeat the mind’s real purpose. It projects conflict from your mind to other minds, in an attempt to persuade you that you have gotten rid of the problem.

There are two major errors involved in this attempt. First, strictly speaking, conflict cannot be projected because it cannot be shared. Any attempt to keep part of it and get rid of another part does not really mean anything. Remember that a conflicted teacher is a poor teacher and a poor learner. His lessons are confused, and their transfer value is limited by his confusion. The second error is the idea that you can get rid of something you do not want by giving it away. Giving it is how you keep it. The belief that by seeing it outside you have excluded it from within is a complete distortion of the power of extension. That is why those who project are vigilant for their own safety. They are afraid that their projections will return and hurt them. Believing they have blotted their projections from their own minds, they also believe their projections are trying to creep back in. Since the projections have not left their minds, they are forced to engage in constant activity in order not to recognise this.

You cannot perpetuate an illusion about another without perpetuating it about yourself. There is no way out of this, because it is impossible to fragment the mind. To fragment is to break into pieces, and mind cannot attack or be attacked. The belief that it can, an error the ego always makes, underlies its whole use of projection. It does not understand what mind is, and therefore does not understand what you are. Yet its existence is dependent on your mind, because the ego is your belief. The ego is a confusion in identification. Never having had a consistent model, it never developed consistently. It is the product of the misapplication of the laws of God by distorted minds that are misusing their power.

Do not be afraid of the ego. It depends on your mind, and as you made it by believing in it, so you can dispel it by withdrawing belief from it. Do not project the responsibility for your belief in it onto anyone else, or you will preserve the belief. When you are willing to accept sole responsibility for the ego’s existence you will have laid aside all anger and all attack, because they come from an attempt to project responsibility for your own errors. But having accepted the errors as yours, do not keep them. Give them over quickly to the Holy Spirit to be undone completely, so that all their effects will vanish from your mind and from the Sonship as a whole.

The Holy Spirit will teach you to perceive beyond your belief, because truth is beyond belief and His perception is true. The ego can be completely forgotten at any time, because it is a totally incredible belief, and no one can keep a belief he has judged to be unbelievable. The more you learn about the ego, the more you realise that it cannot be believed. The incredible cannot be understood because it is unbelievable. The meaninglessness of perception based on the unbelievable is apparent, but it may not be recognised as being beyond belief, because it is made by belief.

The whole purpose of this course is to teach you that the ego is unbelievable and will forever be unbelievable. You who made the ego by believing the unbelievable cannot make this judgement alone. By accepting the Atonement for yourself, you are deciding against the belief that you can be alone, thus dispelling the idea of separation and affirming your true identification with the whole Kingdom as literally part of you. This identification is as beyond doubt as it is beyond belief. Your wholeness has no limits because being is infinity.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 29

Lesson 59
The following ideas are for review today:

(41) God goes with me wherever I go.

How can I be alone when God always goes with me? How can I be doubtful and unsure of myself when perfect certainty abides in Him? How can I be disturbed by anything when He rests in me in absolute peace? How can I suffer when love and joy surround me through Him? Let me not cherish illusions about myself. I am perfect because God goes with me wherever I go.

(42) God is my strength. Vision is His gift.

Let me not look to my own eyes to see today. Let me be willing to exchange my pitiful illusion of seeing for the vision that is given by God. Christ’s vision is His gift, and He has given it to me. Let me call upon this gift today, so that this day may help me to understand eternity.

(43) God is my Source. I cannot see apart from Him.

I can see what God wants me to see. I cannot see anything else. Beyond His Will lie only illusions. It is these I choose when I think I can see apart from Him. It is these I choose when I try to see through the body’s eyes. Yet the vision of Christ has been given me to replace them. It is through this vision that I choose to see.

(44) God is the light in which I see.

I cannot see in darkness. God is the only light. Therefore, if I am to see, it must be through Him. I have tried to define what seeing is, and I have been wrong. Now it is given me to understand that God is the light in which I see. Let me welcome vision and the happy world it will show me.

(45) God is the Mind with which I think.

I have no thoughts I do not share with God. I have no thoughts apart from Him, because I have no mind apart from His. As part of His Mind, my thoughts are His and His Thoughts are mine.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #848: Our belief in time, within the ego framework of separation, means that we experience an unfolding not just of our own lives, but also of a whole historical process, making us appear to be dependent on the achievements and failures of our forebears. While teaching that time does not exist in the Mind of God (and therefore does not exist at all), the Course nevertheless inserts itself into the historical, i.e., temporal, sequence – illustrated by the fact, which you have pointed out before, that the “psychological approach” of the Course is “heavily based on Freud’s insights into the human psyche.” The point is made even more explicitly in one of the Lighthouse articles, which asks, “Why this insane fear of the truth?” And answers: “It is one of A Course in Miracles’ important contributions to world spirituality that it supplies the answer in a way that Saint Paul’s famous problem, for example, was never really answered – an answer, incidentally, that was incapable of being understood or accepted in a pre-Freudian age.” Doesn’t this suggest that human consciousness evolves through history, and that the message from eternity that is A Course in Miracles is in some way dependent on that evolution?

A: While believing we are in time, we will necessarily use the symbols of time, both to assist us in understanding relationships that are not truly temporally linear, but from our perspective seem to unfold in some logical sequence across time, and to communicate to others who have no reason yet to even question the reality of time and space (W.pI.184.9) . But it would be a mistake to give explanations based on time any more reality than we give to any other aspect of the ego thought system. Time is an illusory conceptual filter through which we process shifts in our understanding that happen in the mind outside of time and space, while we still want to believe the world and our individual selves are real.

If we consider that there truly is no linear time and everything that can possibly happen within the world of time and space all exists simultaneously in the mind as potential experience that is already over (T.26.V.3) , then we can begin to grasp that there can be no truly causal relationship between events “in time.” If we consider the mind as holographic, then any moment in time simply represents the totality of thoughts that we are choosing to allow into our awareness at that one moment. And each moment in time as our ego mind has set it up seems to contain memories of what has come before, an experience of what is happening now, and thoughts and musings about what may happen in the future. But these distinctions are simply tricks of the ego mind to make sin, guilt and fear seem to have a multidimensional reality as past, present and future (Kenneth Wapnick’s audiotape, From Time to Timelessness , elaborates on this translation from the concepts of the ego mind to the seeming external reality of the world of time and space). For sin rests on a belief in a past that is already over, that cannot be undone, that is having consequences in the present, with the certainty of an even worse hell off in the future (T.15.I.6) . And yet it is only the choice in the present moment in the mind that makes any of this seem real to us, and that is a choice that can just as easily be undone in the present by asking for a different Teacher in our mind (T.15.I8.9) .

To return to the specific issues raised in your question in light of this understanding of the holographic, nontemporal, nonspatial nature of the mind — there is a moment experienced in time that includes the thought that there was a distant past when Jesus walked the earth, and also the thought of a less distant past when Freud elaborated his understanding of the nature of the mind, including its defenses of denial and projection. But these events do not exist in the past as causal antecedents to the present day Course, but are only thoughts we hold in our mind now to explain in a less fearful way in time how we seem to be coming to an understanding of the principles of forgiveness that are reflected in the Course.

Jesus remains always outside of time and space, offering the correction for the ego thought system, but we interpose conceptual filters, including time, between ourselves and his message of pure love, to keep him and his love at a safe distance. The hologram of the mind may just as likely contain a thought of a present moment that includes a recent past in which Jesus has explained everything we need to know about our blocks to his love and we have willingly embraced his teaching, forgiving all our brothers and accepting the Atonement for ourselves, without the thought of a distant past with a crucified Jesus, without the thought of a more recent past with the brilliant insights of a Sigmund Freud, and without the thought of a book called A Course in Miracles . Salvation does not depend on anything that happens in time! It only depends on our willingness to look at and let go of the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence that we continue to cling to in our minds right now. And the forms in which we may choose to experience that only reflect the symbols that are personally most meaningful for us in our undoing process right now, and nothing more (M.2.3) .

Kenneth Wapnick’s book, A Vast Illusion , provides a much more extensive discussion of the nature and uses of time, from the perspective of both of the teachers in our mind.

jesus there is no death

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 28

ACIM Text Reading for February 28

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

VII. The Totality of the Kingdom

Whenever you deny a blessing to a brother you will feel deprived, because denial is as total as love. It is as impossible to deny part of the Sonship as it is to love it in part. Nor is it possible to love it totally at times. You cannot be totally committed sometimes. Denial has no power in itself, but you can give it the power of your mind, whose power is without limit. If you use it to deny reality, reality is gone for you. Reality cannot be partly appreciated. That is why denying any part of it means you have lost the awareness of all of it. Yet denial is a defence, and so it is as capable of being used positively as well as negatively. Used negatively it will be destructive, because it will be used for attack. But in the service of the Holy Spirit, it can help you recognise part of reality, and thus appreciate all of it. Mind is too powerful to be subject to exclusion. You will never be able to exclude yourself from your thoughts.

When a brother acts insanely, he is offering you an opportunity to bless him. His need is yours. You need the blessing you can offer him. There is no way for you to have it except by giving it. This is the law of God, and it has no exceptions. What you deny you lack, not because it is lacking, but because you have denied it in another and are therefore not aware of it in yourself. Every response you make is determined by what you think you are, and what you want to be is what you think you are. What you want to be, then, must determine every response you make.

You do not need God’s blessing because that you have forever, but you do need yours. The ego’s picture of you is deprived, unloving and vulnerable. You cannot love this. Yet you can very easily escape from this image by leaving it behind. You are not there and that is not you. Do not see this picture in anyone, or you have accepted it as you. All illusions about the Sonship are dispelled together as they were made together. Teach no one that he is what you would not want to be. Your brother is the mirror in which you see the image of yourself as long as perception lasts. And perception will last until the Sonship knows itself as whole. You made perception and it must last as long as you want it.

Illusions are investments. They will last as long as you value them. Values are relative, but they are powerful because they are mental judgements. The only way to dispel illusions is to withdraw all investment from them, and they will have no life for you because you will have put them out of your mind. While you include them in it, you are giving life to them. Except there is nothing there to receive your gift.

The gift of life is yours to give, because it was given you. You are unaware of your gift because you do not give it. You cannot make nothing live, since nothing cannot be enlivened. Therefore, you are not extending the gift you both have and are, and so you do not know your being. All confusion comes from not extending life, because that is not the Will of your Creator. You can do nothing apart from Him, and you do do nothing apart from Him. Keep His way to remember yourself, and teach His way lest you forget yourself. Give only honour to the Sons of the living God, and count yourself among them gladly.

Only honour is a fitting gift for those whom God Himself created worthy of honour, and whom He honours. Give them the appreciation God accords them always, because they are His beloved Sons in whom He is well pleased. You cannot be apart from them because you are not apart from Him. Rest in His Love and protect your rest by loving. But love everything He created, of which you are a part, or you cannot learn of His peace and accept His gift for yourself and as yourself. You cannot know your own perfection until you have honoured all those who were created like you.

One child of God is the only teacher sufficiently worthy to teach another. One Teacher is in all minds and He teaches the same lesson to all. He always teaches you the inestimable worth of every Son of God, teaching it with infinite patience born of the infinite Love for which He speaks. Every attack is a call for His patience, since His patience can translate attack into blessing. Those who attack do not know they are blessed. They attack because they believe they are deprived. Give, therefore, of your abundance, and teach your brothers theirs. Do not share their illusions of scarcity, or you will perceive yourself as lacking.

Attack could never promote attack unless you perceived it as a means of depriving you of something you want. Yet you cannot lose anything unless you do not value it, and therefore do not want it. This makes you feel deprived of it, and by projecting your own rejection you then believe that others are taking it from you. You must be fearful if you believe that your brother is attacking you to tear the Kingdom of Heaven from you. This is the ultimate basis for all the ego’s projection.

Being the part of your mind that does not believe it is responsible for itself, and being without allegiance to God, the ego is incapable of trust. Projecting its insane belief that you have been treacherous to your Creator, it believes that your brothers, who are as incapable of this as you are, are out to take God from you. Whenever a brother attacks another, that is what he believes. Projection always sees your wishes in others. If you choose to separate yourself from God, that is what you will think others are doing to you.

You are the Will of God. Do not accept anything else as your will, or you are denying what you are. Deny this and you will attack, believing you have been attacked,. But see the Love of God in you, and you will see it everywhere because it is everywhere. See His abundance in everyone, and you will know that you are in Him with them. They are part of you, as you are part of God. You are as lonely without understanding this as God Himself is lonely when His Sons do not know Him. The peace of God is understanding this. There is only one way out of the world’s thinking, just as there was only one way into it. Understand totally by understanding totality.

Perceive any part of the ego’s thought system as wholly insane, wholly delusional and wholly undesirable, and you have correctly evaluated all of it. This correction enables you to perceive any part of creation as wholly real, wholly perfect and wholly desirable. Wanting this only you will have this only, and giving this only you will be only this. The gifts you offer to the ego are always experienced as sacrifices, but the gifts you offer to the Kingdom are gifts to you. They will always be treasured by God because they belong to His beloved Sons, who belong to Him. All power and glory are yours because the Kingdom is His.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 28

Lesson 58
These ideas are for review today:

(36) My holiness envelops everything I see.

From my holiness does the perception of the real world come. Having forgiven, I no longer see myself as guilty. I can accept the innocence that is the truth about me. Seen through understanding eyes, the holiness of the world is all I see, for I can picture only the thoughts I hold about myself.

(37) My holiness blesses the world.

The perception of my holiness does not bless me alone. Everyone and everything I see in its light shares in the joy it brings to me. There is nothing that is apart from this joy, because there is nothing that does not share my holiness. As I recognize my holiness, so does the holiness of the world shine forth for everyone to see.

(38) There is nothing my holiness cannot do.

My holiness is unlimited in its power to heal, because it is unlimited in its power to save. What is there to be saved from except illusions? And what are all illusions except false ideas about myself? My holiness undoes them all by asserting the truth about me. In the presence of my holiness, which I share with God Himself, all idols vanish.

(39) My holiness is my salvation.

Since my holiness saves me from all guilt, recognizing my holiness is recognizing my salvation. It is also recognizing the salvation of the world. Once I have accepted my holiness, nothing can make me afraid. And because I am unafraid, everyone must share in my understanding, which is the gift of God to me and to the world.

(40) I am blessed as a Son of God.

Herein lies my claim to all good and only good. I am blessed as a Son of God. All good things are mine, because God intended them for me. I cannot suffer any loss or deprivation or pain because of Who I am. My Father supports me, protects me, and directs me in all things. His care for me is infinite, and is with me forever. I am eternally blessed as His Son.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #158: I have difficulty understanding this section in the text of A Course in Miracles on attack: “Attack could never promote attack unless you perceived it as a means of depriving you of something you want. Yet you cannot lose anything unless you do not value it, and therefore do not want it. This makes you feel deprived of it, and by projecting your own rejection you then believe that others are taking it from you.” (T.7.VII.8:1,2,3) Please can you help?

A: The fourth law of chaos says that “you have what you have taken” (T.23.II.9:3); and we know that projection is one of the ego’s “laws.” Therefore, we are always suspicious of others, believing that they are plotting to take something from us. And ultimately what we believe they are out to steal from us is the peace of God. This, again, is a projection of the treachery of which we accuse ourselves. The point of the teaching is that the peace of God within us can never be taken from us unless we allow that to happen, which could be only because we do not really value it. And the reason we don’t value it is that part of us knows that if we totally identify with it, our self as we know it would disappear and be replaced by our true Self which is beyond all individualized existence in this world. The defense against this is to blame others for depriving us of our inner peace, rather than take responsibility for throwing it away ourselves.

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Q #1029: In A Course in Miracles Jesus says: “Make no one fearful, for his guilt is yours” (T.13.IX.2:2). I am a school teacher and I hate to say it but the only way that I can keep my classroom full of middle-school students orderly at times is to indeed make them fearful. For example, if my students do not fear that I will lower their grade or call their parent if they misbehave, they will have no motivation to behave as I need them to in class. How do I reconcile your oft-stated suggestion to not forget to be “normal” with Jesus’ statement that I quoted above about not making others fearful? I see no other practical way to control my classroom at times but to use fear. I guess what I am really asking is: Can we lovingly be guided to use fear?

A: You’re suffering from another one of those form versus content confusions so common to Course in Miracles students! (You may wish to look at Questions #371, #452, #484 and #584 for further discussion of issues related to the ones you raise here.) First of all, to answer your closing question, we will never be lovingly guided to use fear as a way to change or control anyone for any purpose — not even 12- and 13-year old brats! For fear is the emotion/thought that is triggered and reinforced by our belief in our guilt (T.19.IV.A.10:1,2,3,4) , which says we are deserving of punishment (T.26.VII.3:1; W.pII.259.1:4) , and Jesus’ main purpose in the Course is to help us undo our guilt and all its various expressions. So any intervention or manipulation intended to reinforce guilt and fear to achieve a specific end could never have originated from the right mind.

Now that is not to say that we would never be lovingly guided to be firm or use discipline or the possibility of negative consequences in our dealings with others, especially with children and adolescents. And this brings us back to the central issue in the Course of purpose, which is always the determiner of the content of any of our decisions and subsequent actions. If our purpose is to see others as responsible for how we feel, then we have chosen to reinforce our own belief in separation, and we have turned to the ego as our teacher in the situation. But if our purpose is to remember that we all share the same interests, and acting out is only ever a call at a deeper level for the love that we all long to experience, then we have chosen to listen to the Holy Spirit as our guide.

So how would this look in your classroom situation? If you are aware of some degree of anger towards your students for their misbehaving and feel a need to threaten them and punish them to get them to do what you want them to do, you can be certain that your ego is in charge. But if you simply recognize that they are acting their age and that they need guidelines and limits, as well as consequences for crossing those limits, in order to be able to benefit individually and as a group from their learning environment, that could very likely be a right-minded perspective. At the level of form, you may do and say the same thing to your students as you would when your ego is calling the shots, but your intent or purpose would be different.

To set limits from a right-minded perspective, you must first be very honest with yourself about any ego-based feelings your have towards the class as a whole or towards any individual student or students. If you are aware of anger or even mild annoyance or irritation, any action against your students that you take in response to those feelings will be coming from your ego. And so you are the one in need of help. Your first step then would be to recognize that your upset has nothing to do with how your students are behaving or misbehaving. Anger is never a reaction to anything external, regardless of how justified it may seem (T.30.VI.1:1,2; M.20.3:3,4) , but always represents a projection of our own unresolved internal conflict over the separation (T.6.in.1:2,3,4,5,6,7) . This is perhaps the most difficult step in the correction process to accept, given the value accorded to projection as a defense within our ego thought system.

But once you can recognize and accept that your reactions are not to your students but to your own guilt, you can withdraw the projection from your students and begin to address the real issue in your mind. And that simply involves acknowledging that the anger has been a defense against accepting responsibility for how you feel, but that now you are willing to acknowledge that you are the one who decides how you will feel and react.

Your next step simply involves taking the inner guilt that is behind your anger to Jesus and looking with him at its insubstantial nature (T.18.IX.5:2,3,4; 6; 8) . Our guilt does not seem like nothing to us, and that is why joining with Jesus, who symbolizes the memory of oneness for us – – which means he is the reminder that the separation and guilt are not real — is so essential to the looking process. When we allow ourselves to take that step, our anger and guilt disappear. It is at this point that you can then return your attention to your students, knowing more clearly what is the kindest, most loving way to keep or bring the class under control, since you no longer have any anger invested in the situation. It may involve setting limits, or you may also at times find that there could be a different way of structuring the class or framing the lesson that more readily elicits your students’ participation and cooperation. And a different overall approach may evolve over time, as you are able to release your own obstacles to seeing more clearly.

And should your guidance be to set some limits with consequences for your students, it may be helpful to know that you are not responsible for your students’ reactions. Should they experience fear at the possible outcomes for crossing the boundaries you establish, their fear, much like your anger, is not the result of the external limits you have set, but rather is a projection of their own unresolved guilt. Fear after all need not be the only reason for respecting the limits, and you can set clear limits without intending to arouse guilt and fear, if you have done your part first to recog­nize and release your own ego investments in the situation.

Holy Encounter copy

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 27

ACIM Text Reading for February 27

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

VI. From Vigilance to Peace

Although you can love the Sonship only as one, you can perceive it as fragmented. It is impossible, however, to see something in part of it that you will not attribute to all of it. That is why attack is never discrete, and why it must be relinquished entirely. If it is not relinquished entirely it is not relinquished at all. Fear and love make or create, depending on whether the ego or the Holy Spirit begets or inspires them, but they will return to the mind of the thinker and they will affect his total perception. That includes his concept of God, of His creations and of his own. He will not appreciate any of them if he regards them fearfully. He will appreciate all of them if he regards them with love.

The mind that accepts attack cannot love. That is because it believes it can destroy love, and therefore does not understand what love is. If it does not understand what love is, it cannot perceive itself as loving. This loses the awareness of being, induces feelings of unreality and results in utter confusion. Your thinking has done this because of its power, but your thinking can also save you from this because its power is not of your making. Your ability to direct your thinking as you choose is part of its power. If you do not believe you can do this you have denied the power of your thought, and thus rendered it powerless in your belief.

The ingeniousness of the ego to preserve itself is enormous, but it stems from the very power of the mind the ego denies. This means that the ego attacks what is preserving it, which must result in extreme anxiety. That is why the ego never recognises what it is doing. It is perfectly logical but clearly insane. The ego draws upon the one source that is totally inimical to its existence for its existence. Fearful of perceiving the power of this source, it is forced to depreciate it. This threatens its own existence, a state which it finds intolerable. Remaining logical but still insane, the ego resolves this completely insane dilemma in a completely insane way. It does not perceive its existence as threatened by projecting the threat onto you, and perceiving your being as non-existent. This ensures its continuance if you side with it, by guaranteeing that you will not know your own safety.

The ego cannot afford to know anything. Knowledge is total, and the ego does not believe in totality. This unbelief is its origin, and while the ego does not love you it is faithful to its own antecedents, begetting as it was begotten. Mind always reproduces as it was produced. Produced by fear, the ego reproduces fear. This is its allegiance, and this allegiance makes it treacherous to love because you are love. Love is your power, which the ego must deny. It must also deny everything this power gives you because it gives you everything. No one who has everything wants the ego. Its own maker, then, does not want it. Rejection is therefore the only decision the ego could possibly encounter, if the mind that made it knew itself. And if it recognised any part of the Sonship, it would know itself.

The ego therefore opposes all appreciation, all recognition, all sane perception and all knowledge. It perceives their threat as total, because it senses that all commitments the mind makes are total. Forced, therefore, to detach itself from you, it is willing to attach itself to anything else. But there is nothing else. The mind can, however, make up illusions, and if it does so it will believe in them, because that is how it made them.

The Holy Spirit undoes illusions without attacking them, because He cannot perceive them at all. They therefore do not exist for Him. He resolves the apparent conflict they engender by perceiving conflict as meaningless. I have said before that the Holy Spirit perceives the conflict exactly as it is, and it is meaningless. The Holy Spirit does not want you to understand conflict; He wants you to realise that, because conflict is meaningless, it is not understandable. As I have already said, understanding brings appreciation and appreciation brings love. Nothing else can be understood, because nothing else is real and therefore nothing else has meaning.

If you will keep in mind what the Holy Spirit offers you, you cannot be vigilant for anything but God and His Kingdom. The only reason you may find this hard to accept is because you may still think there is something else. Belief does not require vigilance unless it is conflicted. If it is, there are conflicting components within it that have led to a state of war, and vigilance has therefore become essential. Vigilance has no place in peace. It is necessary against beliefs that are not true, and would never have been called upon by the Holy Spirit if you had not believed the untrue. When you believe something, you have made it true for you. When you believe what God does not know, your thought seems to contradict His, and this makes it appear as if you are attacking Him.

I have repeatedly emphasised that the ego does believe it can attack God, and tries to persuade you that you have done this. If the mind cannot attack, the ego proceeds perfectly logically to the belief that you must be a body. By not seeing you as you are, it can see itself as it wants to be. Aware of its weakness the ego wants your allegiance, but not as you really are. The ego therefore wants to engage your mind in its own delusional system, because otherwise the light of your understanding would dispel it. It wants no part of truth, because the ego itself is not true. If truth is total, the untrue cannot exist. Commitment to either must be total; they cannot coexist in your mind without splitting it. If they cannot coexist in peace, and if you want peace, you must give up the idea of conflict entirely and for all time. This requires vigilance only as long as you do not recognise what is true. While you believe that two totally contradictory thought systems share truth, your need for vigilance is apparent.

Your mind is dividing its allegiance between two kingdoms, and you are totally committed to neither. Your identification with the Kingdom is totally beyond question except by you, when you are thinking insanely. What you are is not established by your perception, and is not influenced by it at all. Perceived problems in identification at any level are not problems of fact. They are problems of understanding, since their presence implies a belief that what you are is up to you to decide. The ego believes this totally, being fully committed to it. It is not true. The ego therefore is totally committed to untruth, perceiving in total contradiction to the Holy Spirit and to the knowledge of God.

You can be perceived with meaning only by the Holy Spirit because your being is the knowledge of God. Any belief you accept apart from this will obscure God’s Voice in you, and will therefore obscure God to you. Unless you perceive His creation truly you cannot know the Creator, since God and His creation are not separate. The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power. This limitless power is God’s gift to you, because it is what you are. If you dissociate your mind from it you are perceiving the most powerful force in the universe as if it were weak, because you do not believe you are part of it.

Perceived without your part in it, God’s creation is seen as weak, and those who see themselves as weakened do attack. The attack must be blind, however, because there is nothing to attack. Therefore they make up images, perceive them as unworthy and attack them for their unworthiness. That is all the world of the ego is. Nothing. It has no meaning. It does not exist. Do not try to understand it because, if you do, you are believing that it can be understood and is therefore capable of being appreciated and loved. That would justify its existence, which cannot be justified. You cannot make the meaningless meaningful. This can only be an insane attempt.

Allowing insanity to enter your mind means that you have not judged sanity as wholly desirable. If you want something else you will make something else, but because it is something else, it will attack your thought system and divide your allegiance. You cannot create in this divided state, and you must be vigilant against this divided state because only peace can be extended. Your divided mind is blocking the extension of the Kingdom, and its extension is your joy. If you do not extend the Kingdom, you are not thinking with your Creator and creating as He created.

In this depressing state the Holy Spirit reminds you gently that you are sad because you are not fulfilling your function as co-creator with God, and are therefore depriving yourself of joy. This is not God’s choice but yours. If your mind could be out of accord with God’s, you would be willing without meaning. Yet because God’s Will is unchangeable, no conflict of will is possible. This is the Holy Spirit’s perfectly consistent teaching. Creation, not separation, is your will because it is God’s, and nothing that opposes this means anything at all. Being a perfect accomplishment, the Sonship can only accomplish perfectly, extending the joy in which it was created, and identifying itself with both its Creator and its creations, knowing they are one.

*

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 27

Lesson 57
Today let us review these ideas:

(31) I am not the victim of the world I see.

How can I be the victim of a world that can be completely undone if I so choose? My chains are loosened. I can drop them off merely by desiring to do so. The prison door is open. I can leave simply by walking out. Nothing holds me in this world. Only my wish to stay keeps me a prisoner. I would give up my insane wishes and walk into the sunlight at last.

(32) I have invented the world I see.

I made up the prison in which I see myself. All I need do is recognize this and I am free. I have deluded myself into believing it is possible to imprison the Son of God. I was bitterly mistaken in this belief, which I no longer want. The Son of God must be forever free. He is as God created him, and not what I would make of him. He is where God would have him be, and not where I thought to hold him prisoner.

(33) There is another way of looking at the world.

Since the purpose of the world is not the one I ascribed to it, there must be another way of looking at it. I see everything upside down, and my thoughts are the opposite of truth. I see the world as a prison for God’s Son. It must be, then, that the world is really a place where he can be set free. I would look upon the world as it is, and see it as a place where the Son of God finds his freedom.

(34) I could see peace instead of this.

When I see the world as a place of freedom, I realize that it reflects the laws of God instead of the rules I made up for it to obey. I will understand that peace, not war, abides in it. And I will perceive that peace also abides in the hearts of all who share this place with me.

(35) My mind is part of God’s. I am very holy.

As I share the peace of the world with my brothers, I begin to understand that this peace comes from deep within myself. The world I look upon has taken on the light of my forgiveness, and shines forgiveness back at me. In this light I begin to see what my illusions about myself kept hidden. I begin to understand the holiness of all living things, including myself, and their oneness with me.

*

ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #74: I read in Absence from Felicity about how Helen used shopping as a defense against Jesus. It almost totally preoccupied her, and succeeded in keeping Jesus safely away from her attention. My work and commitments are doing the same for me. Although I never thought I was using them as a defense — only being normal. Can this be avoided?

A: A major focus of the teaching and training of the Course is to get us to think in terms of purpose. “What do I want to come of this? What is it for?” (T.17.VI.2:1.2); “The test of everything on earth is simply this; ‘What is it for?’ The answer makes it what it is for you. It has no meaning of itself, yet you can give reality to it, according to the purpose that you serve” (T.24.VII.6:1.2.3). There are only two purposes that are open to choice in our minds. Either we have chosen to reinforce our belief in separation or to undo this belief, and there is never an instant when we are not making this choice. Another way of stating this is that we are always choosing either to push the love of Jesus away, or join to with it. This means that it is never the activity that we are engaged in that is the problem or the reason we are not peaceful, it is the choice we are making to use the activity to keep us separate or in conflict, etc.

The Course teaches that we made the world to be a distraction and a smokescreen, so that we would forget entirely that we have a mind that at every instant is choosing to identify with the ego’s or with the Holy Spirit’s thought system. We become preoccupied with our work, our families, etc., never realizing the underlying purpose that has been chosen in our minds. We justify our immersion in our lives in the world by saying, “Everyone does that” or “It’s normal.” But it is all very purposeful, as reflected in this statement: “Every special relationship you have made has, as its fundamental purpose, the aim of occupying your mind so completely that you will not hear the call for truth” (T.17.IV.3:3). We, of course, are not aware that this is going on, which is why the Course is so helpful.

In view of this, your question regarding how to avoid using work, or anything else, as a defense against the love of Jesus in a sense is the wrong question, or focus. As the above quote indicates, that is the very purpose of our being in the world with all of our obligations and commitments — to be preoccupied with what is outside our minds so that we will forget entirely that we have a mind that is choosing at every instant. In that sense, then, we can’t avoid using the world as a defense, because that is why we are here! So what would help you most is simply to be honest about this as your underlying intention in being busy. The purpose is not what you think, just as Jesus informs us in Lesson 5 that we are never upset for the reason we think. Helen knew this clearly. She knew that her shopping was a way of keeping Jesus away. If you can be clear about that, the problem will not be worsened by guilt over the dishonesty. Being afraid to get close to love is not sinful, therefore, shame and guilt are not justified. Fear is not a sin, and it has no effect on Jesus’ love for you. When Helen knew she was ready to accept Jesus’ love, her experience was that he told her she didn’t have to go shopping anymore, and there was no sense of sacrifice. She was always clear about the purpose of what she was doing. That is what we all need to aim for. We are never busy for the reason we think!

The correction comes when we first recognize the purpose we have chosen in our wrong minds, and then ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help us shift our purpose so that we would use everything as a means of undoing the separation and seeing our interests as shared with everyone else’s rather than in conflict with them. The challenge is learning how to do both — how to be aware of what is going on in our minds and at the same time conscientiously fulfilling our obligations and responsibilities in the world to the best of our ability. It is possible to do this, but it takes a great deal of practice. That is what the exercises in the workbook are designed to do. We learn how to function in the world effectively, while learning that we are not of the world.

Know Yourself

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 26

ACIM Text Reading for February 27

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

V. Healing and the Changelessness of Mind

The body is nothing more than a framework for developing abilities, which is quite apart from what they are used for. That is a decision. The effects of the ego’s decision in this matter are so apparent that they need no elaboration, but the Holy Spirit’s decision to use the body only for communication has such a direct connection with healing that it does need clarification. The unhealed healer obviously does not understand his own vocation.
Only minds communicate. Since the ego cannot obliterate the impulse to communicate because it is also the impulse to create, it can only teach you that the body can both communicate and create, and therefore does not need the mind. The ego thus tries to teach you that the body can act like the mind, and is therefore self-sufficient. Yet we have learned that behaviour is not the level for either teaching or learning, since you can act in accordance with what you do not believe. To do this, however, will weaken you as a teacher and a learner because, as has been repeatedly emphasised, you teach what you do believe. An inconsistent lesson will be poorly taught and poorly learned. If you teach both sickness and healing, you are both a poor teacher and a poor learner.

Healing is the one ability everyone can develop and must develop if he is to be healed. Healing is the Holy Spirit’s form of communication in this world, and the only one He accepts. He recognises no other, because He does not accept the ego’s confusion of mind and body. Minds can communicate, but they cannot hurt. The body in the service of the ego can hurt other bodies, but this cannot occur unless the body has already been confused with the mind. This situation, too, can be used either for healing or for magic, but you must remember that magic always involves the belief that healing is harmful. This belief is its totally insane premise, and so it proceeds accordingly.

Healing only strengthens. Magic always tries to weaken. Healing perceives nothing in the healer that everyone else does not share with him. Magic always sees something ‘special’ in the healer, which he believes he can offer as a gift to someone who does not have it. He may believe that the gift comes from God to him, but it is quite evident that he does not understand God if he thinks he has something that others lack.

The Holy Spirit does not work by chance, and healing that is of Him always works. Unless the healer always heals by Him the results will vary. Yet healing itself is consistent, since only consistency is conflict-free, and only the conflict-free are whole. By accepting exceptions and acknowledging that he can sometimes heal and sometimes not, the healer is obviously accepting inconsistency. He is therefore in conflict, and is teaching conflict. Can anything of God not be for all and for always? Love is incapable of any exceptions. Only if there is fear does the idea of exceptions seem to be meaningful. Exceptions are fearful because they are made by fear. The ‘fearful healer’ is a contradiction in terms, and is therefore a concept that only a conflicted mind could possibly perceive as meaningful.

Fear does not gladden. Healing does. Fear always makes exceptions. Healing never does. Fear produces dissociation, because it induces separation. Healing always produces harmony, because it proceeds from integration. It is predictable because it can be counted on. Everything that is of God can be counted on, because everything of God is wholly real. Healing can be counted on because it is inspired by His Voice, and is in accord with His laws. Yet if healing is consistent it cannot be inconsistently understood. Understanding means consistency because God means consistency. Since that is His meaning, it is also yours. Your meaning cannot be out of accord with His, because your whole meaning and your only meaning comes from His and is like His. God cannot be out of accord with Himself, and you cannot be out of accord with Him. You cannot separate your Self from your Creator, Who created you by sharing His Being with you.

The unhealed healer wants gratitude from his brothers, but he is not grateful to them. That is because he thinks he is giving something to them, and is not receiving something equally desirable in return. His teaching is limited because he is learning so little. His healing lesson is limited by his own ingratitude, which is a lesson in sickness. True learning is constant, and so vital in its power for change that a Son of God can recognise his power in one instant and change the world in the next. That is because, by changing his mind, he has changed the most powerful device that was ever given him for change. This in no way contradicts the changelessness of mind as God created it, but you think that you have changed it as long as you learn through the ego. This places you in a position of needing to learn a lesson that seems contradictory; – you must learn to change your mind about your mind. Only by this can you learn that it is changeless.

When you heal, that is exactly what you are learning. You are recognising the changeless mind in your brother by realising that he could not have changed his mind. That is how you perceive the Holy Spirit in him. It is only the Holy Spirit in him that never changes His Mind. He himself may think he can, or he would not perceive himself as sick. He therefore does not know what his Self is. If you see only the changeless in him you have not really changed him. By changing your mind about his for him, you help him undo the change his ego thinks it has made in him.

As you can hear two voices, so you can see in two ways. One way shows you an image, or an idol that you may worship out of fear, but will never love. The other shows you only truth, which you will love because you will understand it. Understanding is appreciation, because what you understand you can identify with, and by making it part of you, you have accepted it with love. That is how God Himself created you; in understanding, in appreciation and in love. The ego is totally unable to understand this, because it does not understand what it makes, does not appreciate it and does not love it. It incorporates to take away. It literally believes that every time it deprives someone of something, it has increased. I have spoken often of the increase of the Kingdom by your creations, which can only be created as you were. The whole glory and perfect joy that is the Kingdom lies in you to give. Do you not want to give it?

You cannot forget the Father because I am with you, and I cannot forget Him. To forget me is to forget yourself and Him Who created you. Our brothers are forgetful. That is why they need your remembrance of me and of Him Who created me. Through this remembrance, you can change their minds about themselves, as I can change yours. Your mind is so powerful a light that you can look into theirs and enlighten them, as I can enlighten yours. I do not want to share my body in communion because this is to share nothing. Would I try to share an illusion with the most holy children of a most holy Father. Yet I do want to share my mind with you because we are of one Mind, and that Mind is ours. See only this Mind everywhere, because only this is everywhere and in everything. It is everything because it encompasses all things within itself. Blessed are you who perceive only this, because you perceive only what is true.

Come therefore unto me, and learn of the truth in you. The mind we share is shared by all our brothers, and as we see them truly they will be healed. Let your mind shine with mine upon their minds, and by our gratitude to them make them aware of the light in them. This light will shine back upon you and on the whole Sonship, because this is your proper gift to God. He will accept it and give it to the Sonship, because it is acceptable to Him and therefore to His Sons. This is true communion with the Holy Spirit, Who sees the altar of God in everyone, and by bringing it to your appreciation, He calls upon you to love God and His creation. You can appreciate the Sonship only as one. This is part of the law of creation, and therefore governs all thought.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 27

Lesson 56
Our review for today covers the following:

(26) My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

How can I know who I am when I see myself as under constant attack? Pain, illness, loss, age and death seem to threaten me. All my hopes and wishes and plans appear to be at the mercy of a world I cannot control. Yet perfect security and complete fulfillment are my inheritance. I have tried to give my inheritance away in exchange for the world I see. But God has kept my inheritance safe for me. My own real thoughts will teach me what it is.

(27) Above all else I want to see.

Recognizing that what I see reflects what I think I am, I realize that vision is my greatest need. The world I see attests to the fearful nature of the self-image I have made. If I would remember who I am, it is essential that I let this image of myself go. As it is replaced by truth, vision will surely be given me. And with this vision, I will look upon the world and on myself with charity and love.

(28) Above all else I want to see differently.

The world I see holds my fearful self-image in place, and guarantees its continuance. While I see the world as I see it now, truth cannot enter my awareness. I would let the door behind this world be opened for me, that I may look past it to the world that reflects the Love of God.

(29) God is in everything I see.

Behind every image I have made, the truth remains unchanged. Behind every veil I have drawn across the face of love, its light remains undimmed. Beyond all my insane wishes is my will, united with the Will of my Father. God is still everywhere and in everything forever. And we who are part of Him will yet look past all appearances, and recognize the truth beyond them all.

(30) God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.

In my own mind, behind all my insane thoughts of separation and attack, is the knowledge that all is one forever. I have not lost the knowledge of Who I am because I have forgotten it. It has been kept for me in the Mind of God, Who has not left His Thoughts. And I, who am among them, am one with them and one with Him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #450: Given the title of the book, I’m surprised to see so little discussion in this Q&A of the exact meaning and nature of the usage of “miracle” in A Course in Miracles. What is the relationship between a holy instant and a miracle? It seems to me that the holy instant is a more mature understanding of the real meaning of “miracle,” as that term is used in the Course.

A: These two terms are defined in Kenneth’s Glossary-Index as follows (in part): A miracle is an occurrence in the mind, nothing external. The term refers to the change of mind that shifts our perception from the ego’s world of sin, guilt, and fear, to the Holy Spirit’s world of forgiveness. It reverses projection by restoring to the mind its causative function, allowing us to choose again. The holy instant is that instant outside time in which we choose the miracle instead of a grievance, the Holy Spirit instead of the ego, forgiveness instead of guilt. The holy instant is the expression of our willingness to live in the present, which opens into eternity, rather than holding on to the past and fearing the future, which keeps us in hell. (See Question #26 for an expanded description of the holy instant.)

The two terms are distinct, as Jesus uses them to address two distinct misperceptions in our minds that resulted from our decision to believe that the separation from God actually happened. Jesus is thus emphasizing different aspects of the correction needed in our thinking to get us back to our natural state of oneness. His teachings about the miracle, in general, are meant to correct our tendency to think that our fundamental problems and their solutions are outside us — in the world and the body. And in speaking about the holy instant, in general, Jesus is correcting our habitual focus on the past and the future to justify our unforgiveness and our fear.

In one sense, the meanings of all terms coalesce, as they refer to a single mistaken thought and the correction of that thought, and so while Jesus would be emphatic about the meaning of his message, he would give his students some latitude with the terms he has chosen. The content — his message and our acceptance of it — is far more important to him than the form — the terms in which he expresses his message.

want only love

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 25

ACIM Text Reading for February 25

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

IV. Healing as the Recognition of Truth

Truth can only be recognised and need only be recognised. Inspiration is of the Holy Spirit, and certainty is of God according to His laws. Both, therefore, come from the same Source, since inspiration comes from the Voice for God and certainty comes from the laws of God. Healing does not come directly from God, Who knows His creations as perfectly whole. Yet healing is still of God, because it proceeds from His Voice and from His laws. It is their result, in a state of mind that does not know Him. The state is unknown to Him and therefore does not exist, but those who sleep are unaware. Because they are unaware, they do not know.

The Holy Spirit must work through you to teach you He is in you. This is an intermediary step toward the knowledge that you are in God because you are part of Him. The miracles the Holy Spirit inspires can have no order of difficulty, because every part of creation is of one order. This is God’s Will and yours. The laws of God establish this, and the Holy Spirit reminds you of it. When you heal, you are remembering the laws of God and forgetting the laws of the ego. I said before that forgetting is merely a way of remembering better. It is therefore not the opposite of remembering when it is properly perceived. Perceived improperly, it induces a perception of conflict with something else, as all incorrect perception does. Properly perceived, it can be used as a way out of conflict, as all proper perception can.

The ego does not want to teach everyone all it has learned, because that would defeat its purpose. Therefore it does not really learn at all. The Holy Spirit teaches you to use what the ego has made, to teach the opposite of what the ego has ‘learned’. The kind of learning is as irrelevant as is the particular ability that was applied to the learning. All you need do is make the effort to learn, for the Holy Spirit has a unified goal for the effort. If different abilities are applied long enough to one goal, the abilities themselves become unified. This is because they are channelised in one direction, or in one way. Ultimately, then, they all contribute to one result, and by so doing, their similarity rather than their differences is emphasised.

All abilities should therefore be given over to the Holy Spirit, Who understands how to use them properly. He uses them only for healing, because He knows you only as whole. By healing you learn of wholeness, and by learning of wholeness you learn to remember God. You have forgotten Him, but the Holy Spirit understands that your forgetting must be translated into a way of remembering.

The ego’s goal is as unified as the Holy Spirit’s, and it is because of this that their goals can never be reconciled in any way or to any extent. The ego always seeks to divide and separate. The Holy Spirit always seeks to unify and heal. As you heal you are healed, because the Holy Spirit sees no order of difficulty in healing. Healing is the way to undo the belief in differences, being the only way of perceiving the Sonship as one. This perception is therefore in accord with the laws of God, even in a state of mind that is out of accord with His. The strength of right perception is so great that it brings the mind into accord with His, because it serves His Voice, Which is in all of you.

To think you can oppose the Will of God is a real delusion. The ego believes that it can, and that it can offer you its own ‘will’ as a gift. You do not want it. It is not a gift. It is nothing at all. God has given you a gift that you both have and are. When you do not use it, you forget that you have it. By not remembering it, you do not know what you are. Healing, then, is a way of approaching knowledge by thinking in accordance with the laws of God, and recognising their universality. Without this recognition, you have made the laws meaningless to you. Yet the laws are not meaningless, since all meaning is contained by them and in them.

Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven, because that is where the laws of God operate truly, and they can operate only truly because they are the laws of truth. But seek this only, because you can find nothing else. There is nothing else. God is All in all in a very literal sense. All being is in Him Who is all Being. You are therefore in Him since your being is His. Healing is a way of forgetting the sense of danger the ego has induced in you, by not recognising its existence in your brother. This strengthens the Holy Spirit in both of you, because it is a refusal to acknowledge fear. Love needs only this invitation. It comes freely to all the Sonship, being what the Sonship is. By your awakening to it, you are merely forgetting what you are not. This enables you to remember what you are.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 24

Lesson 55
Today’s review includes the following:

(21) I am determined to see things differently.

What I see now are but signs of disease, disaster and death. This cannot be what God created for His beloved Son. The very fact that I see such things is proof that I do not understand God. Therefore I also do not understand His Son. What I see tells me that I do not know who I am. I am determined to see the witnesses to the truth in me, rather than those which show me an illusion of myself.

(22) What I see is a form of vengeance.

The world I see is hardly the representation of loving thoughts. It is a picture of attack on everything by everything. It is anything but a reflection of the Love of God and the Love of His Son. It is my own attack thoughts that give rise to this picture. My loving thoughts will save me from this perception of the world, and give me the peace God intended me to have.

(23) I can escape from this world by giving up attack thoughts.

Herein lies salvation, and nowhere else. Without attack thoughts I could not see a world of attack. As forgiveness allows love to return to my awareness, I will see a world of peace and safety and joy. And it is this I choose to see, in place of what I look on now.

(24) I do not perceive my own best interests.

How could I recognize my own best interests when I do not know who I am? What I think are my best interests would merely bind me closer to the world of illusions. I am willing to follow the Guide God has given me to find out what my own best interests are, recognizing that I cannot perceive them by myself.

(25) I do not know what anything is for.

To me, the purpose of everything is to prove that my illusions about myself are real. It is for this purpose that I attempt to use everyone and everything. It is for this that I believe the world is for. Therefore I do not recognize its real purpose. The purpose I have given the world has led to a frightening picture of it. Let me open my mind to the world’s real purpose by withdrawing the one I have given it, and learning the truth about it.

For a Free Audio Download of Today’s Text Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1258: I am continually confronted by my lack of faith in Jesus, God/Higher Power to actually create change in my mind. I want desperately to believe that I can have joy and peace while living in this world, in this lifetime, but it continually eludes me. And then I fear that my lack of faith is what is creating my lack of well-being (e.g., physical, financial) in many areas of my life. The lack of “evidence” of well-being in my experience makes sustained faith impossible for me. It appears that the small willingness necessary for a change in perception is not really enough to create the miracle for me. I spend so much time in observation of my thoughts and in recognition of my misperceptions. I give those mistakes to Jesus, and nothing changes in my experience or in my mind. Could it be that the Course was not meant to be applicable to everyone?

A: There are very few students who have not held out some hope that their diligent work with A Course in Miracles would somehow lead to the betterment of their situation in the world. It is hard not to want physical, financial, and other levels of well being, and the Course never asks us to give that up or feel that it is wrong to pursue it. It is just telling us that we will never rid ourselves of the true cause of our unhappiness and frustration that way, because the real problem lies in our mind’s choice to project guilt instead of looking at it without judgment. We know all too well that however secure we may feel in terms of external conditions, that security is always precarious — our world today makes that abundantly clear. Therefore, Jesus cautions us, “Seek not escape from problems here. The world was made that problems could not be escaped” (T.31.IV.2:5,6).

Part of us believes that, and part of us doesn’t. Thus our conflicted state of mind. Our investment in believing the body is our reality amounts to an addiction, and our fear of bodily impoverishment and inadequacy is that of an addict’s fear of being without his fix. Jesus explains to us that the source of this investment is the body’s role in protecting us from the devastation we believe is in our minds because we accuse ourselves of having thrown away our wholeness, in our selfish demand for individual existence. “The ego believes that mind is dangerous, and that to make mindless is to heal” (T.8.IX.6:3). As long as we identify with the ego, we will desperately need the body; and even more important, we will need to be successful in the body so that we will never have to go back to the disturbing chaos in our minds. That is the reason we panic when things are not going well.

In view of this, we cannot long sustain the thought that we are as God created us, for that means we are not bodies. But the body, once again, with all its needs and problems, is what protects us from what we fear to face in our minds; so we are caught — wanting to believe what the Course says, yet fearing to go there. Therefore, we find a way to compromise between our devotion to the Course and our devotion to achieving security and stability in the world. This ego strategy then leaves us desolate and despairing when things don’t work out the way we think they should, and then we conclude that our faith is wanting; or the Holy Spirit has turned a deaf ear to our pleas; or our sinfulness is just too great, or we haven’t sacrificed enough, etc. That is exactly where the ego wants us to end up — no longer in touch with the truth about ourselves, the world, Jesus, this course, the Holy Spirit, and God, blaming something or someone for our miserable state.

Fear is the problem, not a lack of faith or belief. Therefore, just try to be gentle and patient, as you would with anyone you encounter who is frightened. Accept where you are in your process, and ask Jesus to help you look at the real source of your crisis. It is only our fear that makes the Course seem beyond our capability, because as we well know, fear can distort perception and cause us to grasp for anything that promises immediate relief. This course is simply asking us to accept the truth and deny what is false. Again, our fear causes us to complicate this, because fear impels us to erect defenses against it, and then we get lost in the defenses. In the face of the temptation to believe the Course is beyond you, remember Jesus’ many assurances, one comforting example being: “I would not ask you to do things you cannot do, and it is impossible that I could do things you cannot do. Given this, and given this quite literally, nothing can prevent you from doing exactly what I ask, and everything argues for your doing it. I give you no limits because God lays none upon you” (T.8.IX.8:2,3,4).

health is inner peace

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 24

ACIM Text Reading for February 24

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

III. The Reality of the Kingdom

The Holy Spirit teaches one lesson, and applies it to all individuals in all situations. Being conflict-free, He maximises all efforts and all results. By teaching the power of the Kingdom of God Himself, He teaches you that all power is yours. Its application does not matter. It is always maximal. Your vigilance does not establish it as yours, but it does enable you to use it always and in all ways. When I said ‘I am with you always’, I meant it literally. I am not absent to anyone in any situation, Because I am always with you, you are the way, the truth and the life. You did not make this power, any more than I did. It was created to be shared, and therefore cannot be meaningfully perceived as belonging to anyone at the expense of another. Such a perception makes it meaningless by eliminating or overlooking its real and only meaning.

God’s meaning waits in the Kingdom, because that is where He placed it. It does not wait in time. It merely rests in the Kingdom because it belongs there, as you do. How can you who are God’s meaning perceive yourself as absent from it? You can see yourself as separated from your meaning only by experiencing yourself as unreal. This is why the ego is insane; it teaches that you are not what you are. That is so contradictory it is clearly impossible. It is therefore a lesson you cannot really learn, and therefore cannot really teach. Yet you are always teaching. You must, therefore, be teaching something else, even though the ego does not know what it is. The ego, then, is always being undone, and does suspect your motives. Your mind cannot be unified in allegiance to the ego, because the mind does not belong to it. Yet what is ‘treacherous’ to the ego is faithful to peace. The ego’s ‘enemy’ is therefore your friend.

I said before that the ego’s friend is not part of you, because the ego perceives itself at war and therefore in need of allies. You who are not at war must look for brothers and recognise all whom you see as brothers, because only equals are at peace. Because God’s equal Sons have everything, they cannot compete. Yet if they perceive any of their brothers as anything other than their perfect equals, the idea of competition has entered their minds. Do not underestimate your need to be vigilant against this idea, because all your conflicts come from it. It is the belief that conflicting interests are possible, and therefore you have accepted the impossible as true. Is that different from saying you perceive yourself as unreal?

To be in the Kingdom is merely to focus your full attention on it. As long as you believe you can attend to what is not true, you are accepting conflict as your choice. Is it really a choice? It seems to be, but seeming and reality are hardly the same. You who are the Kingdom are not concerned with seeming. Reality is yours because you are reality. This is how having and being are ultimately reconciled, not in the Kingdom, but in your mind. The altar there is the only reality. The altar is perfectly clear in thought, because it is a reflection of perfect Thought. Your right mind sees only brothers, because it sees only in its own light.

God has lit your mind Himself, and keeps your mind lit by His Light because His Light is what your mind is. This is totally beyond question, and when you question it you are answered. The Answer merely undoes the question by establishing the fact that to question reality is to question meaninglessly. That is why the Holy Spirit never questions. His sole function is to undo the questionable and thus lead to certainty. The certain are perfectly calm, because they are not in doubt. They do not raise questions, because nothing questionable enters their minds. This holds them in perfect serenity, because this is what they share, knowing what they are.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 24

Lesson 54
These are the review ideas for today:

(16) I have no neutral thoughts.

Neutral thoughts are impossible because all thoughts have power. They will either make a false world or lead me to the real one. But thoughts cannot be without effects. As the world I see arises from my thinking errors, so will the real world rise before my eyes as I let my errors be corrected. My thoughts cannot be neither true nor false. They must be one or the other. What I see shows me which they are.

(17) I see no neutral things.

What I see witnesses to what I think. If I did not think I would not exist, because life is thought. Let me look on the world I see as the representation of my own state of mind. I know that my state of mind can change. And so I also know the world I see can change as well.

(18) I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing.

If I have no private thoughts, I cannot see a private world. Even the mad idea of separation had to be shared before it could form the basis of the world I see. Yet that sharing was a sharing of nothing. I can also call upon my real thoughts, which share everything with everyone. As my thoughts of separation call to the separation thoughts of others, so my real thoughts awaken the real thoughts in them. And the world my real thoughts show me will dawn on their sight as well as mine.

(19) I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

I am alone in nothing. Everything I think or say or do teaches all the universe. A Son of God cannot think or speak or act in vain. He cannot be alone in anything. It is therefore in my power to change every mind along with mine, for mine is the power of God.

(20) I am determined to see.

Recognizing the shared nature of my thoughts, I am determined to see. I would look upon the witnesses that show me the thinking of the world has been changed. I would behold the proof that what has been done through me has enabled love to replace fear, laughter to replace tears, and abundance to replace loss. I would look upon the real world, and let it teach me that my will and the Will of God are one.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #357: Can you clarify what Kenneth means in The 50 Miracle Principles when he says that my “gift of peace will be given to the other person; whether that person chooses to accept this is between that person and Jesus.” What if the other person I am working with is not a student of A Course in Miracles, and not in touch at all with their hidden love? Implicit in this question is my frustration and fear concerning the fact that I have given gifts to my ex- girlfriend with whom I had a bad breakup. I am seeing her less and less through the eyes of fear and more and more through the eyes of love, but I have not gotten the response that I had hoped for. I am confused about the meaning of: “As you begin to recognize the gifts you have so freely given your brother” and I have and I am growing and excited; but I guess my dream is for her to come up to me and say “Oh by the way I experienced this new way of looking at you.” (LOL) Can you offer me a little insight here?

A: The distinction between form and content is important when working with these teachings. The “gift of peace” comes from the decision you make in your mind not to see your interests as apart from your girlfriend’s. That is the content. It is no different from the “gift of peace” you give to anyone else. It means rising above specialness, which always involves separate interests: seeing yourself as lacking and seeing the other person as having what you want and need. Once you rise above specialness — if only for an instant — the separation between you and the other person will be gone; you will be at peace; and your experience will be that that peace enfolds you and the other person as one. In that instant all needs and expectations simply disappear; it truly does not matter whether the other person responds or not. The form or expression of the content would vary from individual to individual, but that is not what is important. That is the ideal that we want to grow into. A lesson that is helpful in this context is “When I am healed, I am not healed alone” (W.pI.137).

From the world’s point, the purpose of the relationship is to get what you want — to have your girlfriend in your life so that you will feel complete and fulfilled. It is natural to feel that everything will be wonderful if only your girlfriend would respond the way you want her to. That is how we approach relationships in the world. But that approach is coming from our wrong minds — which does not make it sinful or bad, nor does it mean that you should not pursue a romantic relationship. If you are working with the Course, you just want to be completely honest about the purpose of the relationship for you now; then ask for help if you would like the relationship to have a different purpose.

From the Holy Spirit’s point of view, the purpose of any relationship is to be the means by which we undo our own belief in separation. It is a process that takes place in our own minds. “The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as means for waking. You would have used them to remain asleep. I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams. That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship. He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you. But He does use it differently, as a help to make His purpose real to you. The special relationship will remain, not as a source of pain and guilt, but as a source of joy and freedom. It will not be for you alone, for therein lay its misery. As its unholiness kept it a thing apart, its holiness will become an offering to everyone” (T.18.II.6).

This, obviously, is quite different from the world’s approach, where our focus is on making our lives in the world better. This shift in our approach to everything is the object of the training in the workbook lessons. It takes a long time for most of us, because it seems to go against what has become natural to us. It seems normal to think that we will be just fine as soon as the external condition changes — as soon as this particular person responds the way I want her to. But Jesus is teaching us that this attitude simply reinforces our problem rather than solving it. It reinforces our belief in the reality of our lack and our anguish and unhappiness. Again, that does not mean that you cannot have a relationship. It means that the purpose would be different.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 23

ACIM Text Reading for February 23

Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom

II. The Law of the Kingdom

To heal is the only kind of thinking in this world that resembles the Thought of God, and because of the elements they share, can transfer easily to it. When a brother perceives himself as sick, he is perceiving himself as not whole, and therefore in need. If you, too, see him this way, you are seeing him as if he were absent from the Kingdom or separated from it, thus making the Kingdom itself obscure to both of you. Sickness and separation are not of God, but the Kingdom is. If you obscure the Kingdom, you are perceiving what is not of God.

To heal, then, is to correct perception in your brother and yourself by sharing the Holy Spirit with him. This places you both within the Kingdom, and restores its wholeness in your mind. This reflects creation, because it unifies by increasing and integrates by extending. What you project or extend is real for you. This is an immutable law of the mind in this world as well as in the Kingdom. However, the content is different in this world, because the thoughts it governs are very different from the Thoughts in the Kingdom. Laws must be adapted to circumstances if they are to maintain order. The outstanding characteristic of the laws of mind as they operate in this world is that by obeying them, and I assure you that you must obey them, you can arrive at diametrically opposed results. This is because the laws have been adapted to the circumstances of this world, in which diametrically opposed outcomes seem possible because you can respond to two conflicting voices.

Outside the Kingdom, the law that prevails inside is adapted to ‘What you project you believe’. This is its teaching form, because outside the Kingdom learning is essential. This form implies that you will learn what you are from what you have projected onto others, and therefore believe they are. In the Kingdom there is no teaching or learning, because there is no belief. There is only certainty. God and His Sons, in the surety of being, know that what you extend you are. That form of the law is not adapted at all, being the law of creation. God Himself created the law by creating by it. And His Sons, who create like Him, follow it gladly, knowing that the increase of the Kingdom depends on it, just as their own creation did.

Laws must be communicated if they are to be helpful. In effect, they must be translated for those who speak different languages. Nevertheless, a good translator, although he must alter the form of what he translates, never changes the meaning. In fact, his whole purpose is to change the form so that the original meaning is retained. The Holy Spirit is the translator of the laws of God to those who do not understand them. You could not do this yourself because a conflicted mind cannot be faithful to one meaning, and will therefore change the meaning to preserve the form.

The Holy Spirit’s purpose in translating is exactly the opposite. He translates only to preserve the original meaning in all respects and in all languages. Therefore, He opposes the idea that differences in form are meaningful, emphasising always that these differences do not matter. The meaning of His message is always the same; only the meaning matters. God’s law of creation does not involve the use of truth to convince His Sons of truth. The extension of truth, which is the law of the Kingdom, rests only on the knowledge of what truth is. This is your inheritance and requires no learning at all, but when you disinherited yourself you became a learner of necessity.

No one questions the connection of learning and memory. Learning is impossible without memory since it must be consistent to be remembered. That is why the Holy Spirit’s teaching is a lesson in remembering. I said before that He teaches remembering and forgetting, but the forgetting is only to make the remembering consistent. You forget in order to remember better. You will not understand His translations while you listen to two ways of interpreting them. Therefore you must forget or relinquish one to understand the other. This is the only way you can learn consistency, so that you can finally be consistent.

What can the perfect consistency of the Kingdom mean to those who are confused? It is apparent that confusion interferes with meaning, and therefore prevents the learner from appreciating it. There is no confusion in the Kingdom, because there is only one meaning. This meaning comes from God and is God. Because it is also you, you share it and extend it as your Creator did. This needs no translation because it is perfectly understood, but it does need extension because it means extension. Communication is perfectly direct and perfectly united. It is totally free, because nothing discordant ever enters. That is why it is the Kingdom of God. It belongs to Him and is therefore like Him. That is its reality, and nothing can assail it.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 23

Lesson 53
Today we will review the following:

(11) My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

Since the thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything, the world that pictures them can have no meaning. What is producing this world is insane, and so is what it produces. Reality is not insane, and I have real thoughts as well as insane ones. I can therefore see a real world, if I look to my real thoughts as my guide for seeing.

(12) I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

Insane thoughts are upsetting. They produce a world in which there is no order anywhere. Only chaos rules a world that represents chaotic thinking, and chaos has no laws. I cannot live in peace in such a world. I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it. And I do not choose to value what is totally insane and has no meaning.

(13) A meaningless world engenders fear.

The totally insane engenders fear because it is completely undependable, and offers no grounds for trust. Nothing in madness is dependable. It holds out no safety and no hope. But such a world is not real. I have given it the illusion of reality, and have suffered from my belief in it. Now I choose to withdraw this belief, and place my trust in reality. In choosing this, I will escape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledging that it does not exist.

(14) God did not create a meaningless world.

How can a meaningless world exist if God did not create it? He is the Source of all meaning, and everything that is real is in His Mind. It is in my mind too, because He created it with me. Why should I continue to suffer from the effects of my own insane thoughts, when the perfection of creation is my home? Let me remember the power of my decision, and recognize where I really abide.

(15) My thoughts are images that I have made.

Whatever I see reflects my thoughts. It is my thoughts that tell me where I am and what I am. The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see. Yet God’s way is sure. The images I have made cannot prevail against Him because it is not my will that they do so. My will is His, and I will place no other gods before Him.

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ACIM Q & A for Today 

Q #1002: I am new to the Course and am confused about how to forgive, how to continue to work as a massage therapist since the body is an illusion, how to practice another belief system while learning the Course. I was intensely abused by someone who believed that their system was the only way and I was to go against my nature and be part of them. I am afraid that I may be misled again. Are there things here that can help us in our learning, even though we do not know where we are going?

A: Since A Course in Miracles is a thought system that completely reverses the ego’s thinking, it is important to be gentle and patient in applying its teachings to our lives. This reversal means allowing the Holy Spirit to transform every judgment we have about everything. Obviously this is a process that takes time, not because time is real, but because we believe it is real, along with everything else in the illusory world. The first change from the ego’s perception to the Holy Spirit’s is to see one’s life as a classroom for learning the lessons of forgiveness. This lays the foundation for all subsequent steps in reversing our thinking. Each step requires that we not skip steps. Remembering how invested we are in identifying with the body helps to set the gentle pace of looking at everything differently. While learning to apply the principles of the Course to our lives, we continue to live and work as usual. It is not helpful to deny our experience as bodies, nor to try to believe that our perceived needs, experiences, and relationships are illusory, since we still believe they are real. The Holy Spirit needs them as teaching tools in His classroom for learning forgiveness.

We are not being coerced or pressured in any way to do anything we are unwilling to do. “ …God’s Will cannot be forced upon you, being an experience of total willingness” (T.8.III.2:3) . In fact, there is a safeguard against coercion in the Course, for it tells us we will not learn anything we do not want to learn. Our practice and learning is therefore commensurate with our willingness. Willingness is the only requirement for our practice of the Course. Neither perfection nor complete understanding is required. It begins with willingness to look at every grievance as the projection of the mind’s guilt for having chosen to believe the separation is real. Thus every relationship, indeed everything in our lives, is useful in the practice of forgiveness. Anything that is not perfect peace, from a slight annoyance to raging anger (See W.pI.21:2) , reflects back to us the mind’s decision to listen to the ego’s tale of separation, rather than the Holy Spirit’s truth of our oneness as God’s Son. Forgiveness means recognizing that this decision is the true source of all pain and conflict in our lives and in the world. Thus, the problem is in the mind, not in other people or the world, or even one’s own body. The solution, therefore, is found in the mind as well. The goal of the Course is to train us to look at everything in our lives from this perspective (See W.in.) , and to gradually learn that nothing external to the mind has any effect on it.

The Course is not the only spiritual path that leads us back home. As we are told in the manual, it is one among many forms (See M.1.3,4) . Every mind will eventually choose to accept the truth of our oneness with each other and with God. That is the content at the heart of the Course’s teaching. As you familiarize yourself with its fundamental principles, you will find that they are distinct from the teachings of other spiritual paths. In many cases they are in striking contrast to most theological and spiritual disciplines. Trying to follow another belief system while learning the Course will eventually introduce conflict in your practice and impede progress. And since the ego already presents us with a vast array of distractions and obstacles, another conflict is an unnecessary burden. If you resonate to the Course’s teaching and choose to take it as your spiritual path, you will find that it requires only that you proceed gently and patiently, one step at a time, at a pace set only by your own desire and willingness. This may mean combining the Course with other paths for a time. The Holy Spirit will never take them away from you. If we are willing to question our interpretation of things, and ask for help, the Holy Spirit will use everything as a learning tool, and “…will respond fully to [the] slightest invitation” (T.5.VII.6:6).

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 22

ACIM Text Reading for February 22

Chapter 7

THE GIFTS OF THE KINGDOM

I. The Last Step

The creative power of God and His creations is limitless, but they are not in reciprocal relationship. You communicate fully with God, as He does with you. This is an ongoing process in which you share, and because you share it, you are inspired to create like God. Yet in creation you are not in a reciprocal relation to God, since He created you but you did not create Him. I have already told you that only in this respect your creative power differs from His. Even in this world there is a parallel. Parents give birth to children, but children do not give birth to parents. They do, however, give birth to their children, and thus give birth as their parents do.

If you created God and He created you, the Kingdom could not increase through its own creative thought. Creation would therefore be limited, and you would not be co-creators with God. As God’s creative Thought proceeds from Him to you, so must your creative thought proceed from you to your creations. Only in this way can all creative power extend outward. God’s accomplishments are not yours, but yours are like His. He created the Sonship and you increase it. You have the power to add to the Kingdom, though not to add to the Creator of the Kingdom. You claim this power when you become vigilant only for God and His Kingdom. By accepting this power as yours you have learned to remember what you are.

Your creations belong in you, as you belong in God. You are part of God, as your sons are part of His Sons. To create is to love. Love extends outward simply because it cannot be contained. Being limitless it does not stop. It creates forever, but not in time. God’s creations have always been, because He has always been. Your creations have always been, because you can create only as God creates. Eternity is yours, because He created you eternal.

The ego, on the other hand, always demands reciprocal rights, because it is competitive rather than loving. It is always willing to strike a bargain, but it cannot understand that to be like another means that no bargains are possible. To gain you must give, not bargain. To bargain is to limit giving, and this is not God’s Will. To will with God is to create like Him. God does not limit His gifts in any way. You are His gifts, and so your gifts must be like His. Your gifts to the Kingdom must be like His gifts to you.

I gave only love to the Kingdom because I believed that was what I was. What you believe you are determines your gifts, and if God created you by extending Himself as you, you can only extend yourself as He did. Only joy increases forever, since joy and eternity are inseparable. God extends outward beyond limits and beyond time, and you who are co-creator with Him extend His Kingdom forever and beyond limit. Eternity is the indelible stamp of creation. The eternal are in peace and joy forever.

To think like God is to share His certainty of what you are, and to create like Him is to share the perfect Love He shares with you. To this the Holy Spirit leads you, that your joy may be complete because the Kingdom of God is whole. I have said that the last step in the reawakening of knowledge is taken by God. This is true, but it is hard to explain in words because words are symbols, and nothing that is true need be explained. However, the Holy Spirit has the task of translating the useless into the useful, the meaningless into the meaningful, and the temporary into the timeless. He can therefore tell you something about this last step.

God does not take steps, because His accomplishments are not gradual. He does not teach, because His creations are changeless. He does nothing last, because He created first and for always. It must be understood that the word ‘first’ as applied to Him is not a time concept. He is first in the sense that He is the First in the Holy Trinity Itself. He is the Prime Creator, because He created His co-creators. Because He did, time applies neither to Him nor to what He created. The ‘last step’ that God will take was therefore true in the beginning, is true now, and will be true forever. What is timeless is always there, because its being is eternally changeless. It does not change by increase, because it was forever created to increase. If you perceive it as not increasing you do not know what it is. You also do not know Who created it. God does not reveal this to you because it was never hidden. His light was never obscured, because it is His Will to share it. How can what is fully shared be withheld and then revealed?

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 22

Lesson 52
Today’s review covers these ideas:

(6) I am upset because I see what is not there.

Reality is never frightening. It is impossible that it could upset me. Reality brings only perfect peace. When I am upset, it is always because I have replaced reality with illusions I made up. The illusions are upsetting because I have given them reality, and thus regard reality as an illusion. Nothing in God’s creation is affected in any way by this confusion of mine. I am always upset by nothing.

(7) I see only the past.

As I look about, I condemn the world I look upon. I call this seeing. I hold the past against everyone and everything, making them my enemies. When I have forgiven myself and remembered Who I am, I will bless everyone and everything I see. There will be no past, and therefore no enemies. And I will look with love on all that I failed to see before.

(8) My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

I see only my own thoughts, and my mind is preoccupied with the past. What, then, can I see as it is? Let me remember that I look on the past to prevent the present from dawning on my mind. Let me understand that I am trying to use time against God. Let me learn to give the past away, realizing that in so doing I am giving up nothing.

(9) I see nothing as it is now.

If I see nothing as it is now, it can truly be said that I see nothing. I can see only what is now. The choice is not whether to see the past or the present; the choice is merely whether to see or not. What I have chosen to see has cost me vision. Now I would choose again, that I may see.

(10) My thoughts do not mean anything.

I have no private thoughts. Yet it is only private thoughts of which I am aware. What can these thoughts mean? They do not exist, and so they mean nothing. Yet my mind is part of creation and part of its Creator. Would I not rather join the thinking of the universe than to obscure all that is really mine with my pitiful and meaningless “private” thoughts?

For a Free Audio Download of Today’s Text Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE

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Q #990: It seems to me that the more deeply I move into A Course in Miracles , the less I feel in touch with God. Here my ego has trapped my spirit in a body and I spend my life choosing between higher-self and lower-self reactions to supposed others, while God is blissfully unaware of what I believe is my existence. So God becomes more and more an amorphous and theoretical concept to me. There are even periods when I entertain the thought that there is no God. What keeps me going is that I cannot see how the Course could come from any being of this world. I also cannot find any better explanation for the craziness of this world or “existence,” or any better path than the Course for dealing with it. Part of me knows that all of this could just be one great – – and I wish, last ditch — ego defense to stop me from moving through the Course. Do you have any ideas about this paradox and how it can best be dealt with?

A: While painful, your sense that you are feeling less in touch with God is a normal and perhaps even critical stage of working with the Course. After all, the Course is telling us that the God most of us grew up with does not exist. Unlike the God of the Bible, the Course’s God “does not know of separation” [i.e., this world] ( Psychotherapy Purpose, Process and Practice P.2.VII.1:11) . Fortunately, however, Jesus’ message does not end there. His real goal is to help us to understand that “nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:4) . We remain as a “Oneness joined as One…at home in God, dreaming of exile” (T.25.1.7:1, T.10.I.2:1). Thus, God is not unaware of us because He is ignorant or uncaring. He does not know about us because we — as the separated beings we think we are — do not exist . This is our dream not His.

Despite its Christian language, which refers to God as a being with thoughts and feelings, the Course’s underlying message is that God is not a being and neither are we . To our sleeping mind, under the tutelage of the ego, this concept is both incomprehensible and very threatening. So the ego acts quickly to annihilate this threat and maintain its grip on us. It perverts the Course’s potentially mind-altering message by telling us, “You see, you thought God was angry at you. But it’s even worse than that. He doesn’t even care about you at all!” This defense lets us remain firmly rooted in this dream with our one-or-the-other mentality perfectly intact.

However, as you stated in your question, there is a part of our mind that recognizes a loving presence in the Course, which could not possibly have come from within the thought system of this world. And part of us knows that if we recognize something, it must be within us. We grasp – – perhaps faintly at times — that there is something within us to which we long to return. But Jesus knows that although we long desperately to feel God’s all-encompassing Love, we cannot understand it or make sense of it from within this dream. And so he does not attempt to teach us what God or His Love is. Rather, he focuses on teaching us what they are not .

He does not ask us to believe in God. Rather he strives to help us gradually come to know God by letting forgiveness take the place of all the guilty illusions that block His Love from our awareness. Perhaps Jesus’ best summation of this point comes in the pamphlet Psychotherapy Purpose, Process and Practice . In the following passage, Jesus is referring specifically to psychotherapy. But what he says reveals his perspective on the entire spiritual journey that he asks us to take. “It would be unfair indeed if belief in God were necessary…Nor is belief in God a really meaningful concept, for God can be but known. Belief implies that unbelief is possible, but knowledge of God has no true opposite. Not to know God is to have no knowledge, and it is to this that all unforgiveness leads. And without knowledge one can have only belief” (P.2.II.4:3,4,5,6,7).

And so, happily, conflicted thoughts about the existence of God, and confusion about what God is, are neither personal shortcomings nor impediments to our progress as students of the Course. The best approach is to simply watch them make their inevitable appearance as we continue on our journey of questioning every value that we hold (T.24.In.2:1) .

For a related discussion about the nature of God according to A Course in Miracles , please see Question #625.

you have no idea

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 21

ACIM Text Reading for February 21

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

5C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom

We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.

The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He is judgemental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgement. This enables the mind to teach without judgement, and therefore to learn to be without judgement. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:

Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.

This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasises the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.

While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognising this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.

Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.

You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition of the Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.

The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the centre, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.

To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.

Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.

The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 21

Lesson 51
Review I
Introduction

Beginning with today we will have a series of review periods. Each of them will cover five of the ideas already presented, starting with the first and ending with the fiftieth. There will be a few short comments after each of the ideas, which you should consider in your review. In the practice periods, the exercises should be done as follows:

Begin the day by reading the five ideas, with the comments included. Thereafter, it is not necessary to follow any particular order in considering them, though each one should be practiced at least once. Devote two minutes or more to each practice period, thinking about the idea and the related comments after reading them over. Do this as often as possible during the day. If any one of the five ideas appeals to you more than the others, concentrate on that one. At the end of the day, however, be sure to review all of them once more.

It is not necessary to cover the comments that follow each idea either literally or thoroughly in the practice periods. Try, rather, to emphasize the central point, and think about it as part of your review of the idea to which it relates. After you have read the idea and the related comments, the exercises should be done with your eyes closed and when you are alone in a quiet place, if possible.

This is emphasized for practice periods at your stage of learning. It will be necessary, however, that you learn to require no special settings in which to apply what you have learned. You will need your learning most in situations that appear to be upsetting, rather than in those that already seem to be calm and quiet. The purpose of your learning is to enable you to bring the quiet with you, and to heal distress and turmoil. This is not done by avoiding them and seeking a haven of isolation for yourself.

You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are. And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.

You will note that, for review purposes, some of the ideas are not given in quite their original form. Use them as they are given here. It is not necessary to return to the original statements, nor to apply the ideas as was suggested then. We are now emphasizing the relationships among the first fifty of the ideas we have covered, and the cohesiveness of the thought system to which they are leading you.

Lesson 51

The review for today covers the following ideas:

(1) Nothing I see means anything.

The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and nothing has no meaning. It is necessary that I recognize this, that I may learn to see. What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing it has no meaning, so that vision may take its place.

(2) I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me.

I have judged everything I look upon, and it is this and only this I see. This is not vision. It is merely an illusion of reality, because my judgments have been made quite apart from reality. I am willing to recognize the lack of validity in my judgments, because I want to see. My judgments have hurt me, and I do not want to see according to them.

(3) I do not understand anything I see.

How could I understand what I see when I have judged it amiss? What I see is the projection of my own errors of thought. I do not understand what I see because it is not understandable. There is no sense in trying to understand it. But there is every reason to let it go, and make room for what can be seen and understood and loved. I can exchange what I see now for this merely by being willing to do so. Is not this a better choice than the one I made before?

(4) These thoughts do not mean anything.

The thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything because I am trying to think without God. What I call “my” thoughts are not my real thoughts. My real thoughts are the thoughts I think with God. I am not aware of them because I have made my thoughts to take their place. I am willing to recognize that my thoughts do not mean anything, and to let them go. I choose to have them be replaced by what they were intended to replace. My thoughts are meaningless, but all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God.

(5) I am never upset for the reason I think.

I am never upset for the reason I think because I am constantly trying to justify my thoughts. I am constantly trying to make them true. I make all things my enemies, so that my anger is justified and my attacks are warranted. I have not realized how much I have misused everything I see by assigning this role to it. I have done this to defend a thought system that has hurt me, and that I no longer want. I am willing to let it go.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #766: Lately I have been waking with thoughts, ideas or concepts from A Course in Miracles fresh in my awareness. For example: recently the thought has reoccurred that “He knows what you have made and can transform this from a dream of hate to one of peace.” It’s not so much that I “hear” any kind of a voice but more that I have these thoughts with me as I wake up in the morning or during the night. It is probably impossible for you to determine what is going on here, but how do I know that this is not a trick of the ego or the intercession of Course principles in my right mind? There must be some level of the mind that the Course reaches/works with us on that does not require our conscious awareness or involvement, no? Could this be the “little willingness” that Jesus speaks of?

A: Although we are unable to comment on your individual experiences, we can say in general that it would not be unusual for ideas or passages from the Course to stay with people and just be there when they awake in the morning or at night. Other students have spoken of this and have also said that ideas sometimes just pop into their minds — a kind of “hearing” — while they are going about their daily activities, not even thinking of the Course. The processing of our study and practice is carried on largely, as you suggest, beneath the level of our conscious awareness; the contents of both the wrong and right minds are for the most part unconscious. Therefore, it would not be surprising that thoughts or words could seem to appear out of nowhere. Our “little willingness” to have Jesus be our teacher has mighty effects in our minds, of which we are mostly unaware.

It may take many, many years of diligent practice before we are able to discern consistently what is coming from our ego and what is from the Holy Spirit or Jesus. If what you hear helps you become more kind, forgiving, and less guilty and judgmental, then just leave it at that. What is most important is not to make it into a big deal, which would happen if you felt a need to run to other people and tell them what happened. This need could well be manifesting the attraction to spiritual specialness. That, of course, is different from asking a question, such as you have done here. This Course is about your relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and bringing your ego to that light and love in your mind. That is where the focus of every student should be. Your trust in the process will develop gradually.

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Q #767: I want my cake and eat it too! Can I live in this world and still have the peace of God? Can I keep this creation as a form of amusement?

A: Sorry, no. And the reason is simple: this is what got us into trouble in the first place. Having our cake and eating too is another way of saying separation can work, that we can have Heaven and hell, specialness and peace, individuality and God, wholeness and a split mind. What’s more, even a fleeting look at the world tells us that is it not very amusing. It was made as an attack on God (W.pII.3.2:1) , and it shows: “Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so . Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing. And through its perceived reality has entered all the world of sick illusions. (T.26.VI.1:1,2,3,4,5, italics ours). In a simple and clear statement in the text of A Course in Miracles , Jesus also tells us: “ It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain”(T.19.IV.B.12:1). However, in accord with the insanity of the ego’s thought system, we have taught ourselves that there are pleasurable things in the world that are preferable to Heaven. The universally acclaimed favorite is specialness, which, in spite of causing us great misery and tribulation, we find superior to the Identity God gave us as His One Son. We have taken great pains (literally) to contrive ingenious ways of convincing ourselves that there is happiness in the illusion. What we actually find in the “beauty” of some aspects of nature and some personal relationships is the satisfaction of having our needs and expectations met, and living “proof” that the world is real. However beautiful these things and relationships may seem to be, their purpose is a vicious attack on God’s Son, in that they have been chosen as a substitute for the Father’s Love. By choosing to identify with the ego, and therefore with the body, we have turned away from His Love. This can only lead to deep pain, which is covered over by the endless pursuit of comfort and joy on the world’s terms. It is endless because it does not satisfy the longing for our true Identity, which lies buried beneath the guilt for choosing the separation.

So it is a bitter cake we bake when we seek for meaning in the meaninglessness of the illusion. We do have it, we are eating it, and it has made us sick. We have done this, just as children who overdose on sugar, because we are confused about our identity, and therefore confused about pain and joy: “ What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain” (T.7.X.3:6). Our real “cake” is learning that we are minds, not bodies, that the world is not our home, and we will never be happy here. “Eating” it means accepting that we are God’s innocent Son at home with Him.

Since Jesus knows we are afraid of this truth, he offers us great comfort: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition” (T.16.VI.8:1,2). Nothing in the process of learning is forced upon us, for no one truly learns under duress. Our healing, therefore, keeps pace with our fear. As fear decreases healing increases to whatever extent we are willing and never without our consent. The things we seek in the world, fear of losing them, and fear of accepting our truth all serve the same purpose of keeping us grounded in the belief that the separation is real. It is not a sin to eat and enjoy the ego’s cake, but it will not bring us the happiness we seek. When tempted to indulge it may be helpful to remember that to turn to the Holy Spirit is an alternative that will not hurt: “The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. Surely no one would object to this goal if he recognized it” (T.7.X.3:1,2) . The peace Jesus promises is not found in the world. It is the true peace found in the forgiving mind, that is not contingent upon our cakes.

total commitment

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 20

ACIM Text Reading for February 20

Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love

B. To Have Peace, Teach Peace to Learn It

All who believe in separation have a basic fear of retaliation and abandonment. They believe in attack and rejection, so that is what they perceive and teach and learn. These insane ideas are clearly the result of dissociation and projection. What you teach you are, but it is quite apparent that you can teach wrongly, and can therefore teach yourself wrong. Many thought I was attacking them, even though it was apparent I was not. An insane learner learns strange lessons. What you must recognise is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them. This is because everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centres on what you believe you are. If the centre of the thought system is true, only truth extends from it. But if a lie is at its centre, only deception proceeds from it.

All good teachers realise that only fundamental change will last, but they do not begin at that level. Strengthening motivation for change is their first and foremost goal. It is also their last and final one. Increasing motivation for change in the learner is all that a teacher need do to guarantee change. Change in motivation is a change of mind, and this will inevitably produce fundamental change because the mind is fundamental.

The first step in the reversal or undoing process is the undoing of the getting concept. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit’s first lesson was ‘To have, give all to all’. I said that this is apt to increase conflict temporarily, and we can clarify this still further now. At this point, the equality of having and being is not yet perceived. Until it is, having appears to be the opposite of giving. Therefore, the first lesson seems to contain a contradiction, since it is being learned by a conflicted mind. This means conflicting motivation, and so the lesson cannot be learned consistently as yet. Further, the mind of the learner projects its own conflict, and thus does not perceive consistency in the minds of others, making him suspicious of their motivation. This is the real reason why, in many respects, the first lesson is the hardest to learn. Still strongly aware of the ego in yourself, and responding primarily to the ego in others, you are being taught to react to both as if what you do believe is not true.

Upside down as always, the ego perceives the first lesson as insane. In fact, this is its only alternative since the other possibility, which would be much less acceptable to it, would obviously be that it is insane. The ego’s judgement, here as always, is predetermined by what it is. The fundamental change will still occur with the change of mind in the thinker. Meanwhile, the increasing clarity of the Holy Spirit’s Voice makes it impossible for the learner not to listen. For a time, then, he is receiving conflicting messages and accepting both.

The way out of conflict between two opposing thought systems is clearly to choose one and relinquish the other. If you identify with your thought system, and you cannot escape this, and if you accept two thought systems which are in complete disagreement, peace of mind is impossible. If you teach both, which you will surely do as long as you accept both, you are teaching conflict and learning it. Yet you do want peace, or you would not have called upon the Voice for peace to help you. Its lesson is not insane; the conflict is.

There can be no conflict between sanity and insanity. Only one is true, and therefore only one is real. The ego tries to persuade you that it is up to you to decide which voice is true, but the Holy Spirit teaches you that truth was created by God, and your decision cannot change it. As you begin to realise the quiet power of the Holy Spirit’s Voice, and Its perfect consistency, it must dawn on your mind that you are trying to undo a decision that was irrevocably made for you. That is why I suggested before that you remind yourself to allow the Holy Spirit to decide for God for you.

You are not asked to make insane decisions, although you can think you are. It must, however, be insane to believe that it is up to you to decide what God’s creations are. The Holy Spirit perceives the conflict exactly as it is. Therefore, His second lesson is:

To have peace, teach peace to learn it.

This is still a preliminary step, since having and being are still not equated. It is, however, more advanced than the first step, which is really only the beginning of the thought reversal. The second step is a positive affirmation of what you want. This, then, is a step in the direction out of conflict, since it means that alternatives have been considered, and one has been chosen as more desirable. Nevertheless, the term ‘more desirable’ still implies that the desirable has degrees. Therefore, although this step is essential for the ultimate decision, it is clearly not the final one. Lack of order of difficulty in miracles has not yet been accepted, because nothing is difficult that is wholly desired. To desire wholly is to create, and creating cannot be difficult if God Himself created you as a creator.

The second step, then, is still perceptual, although it is a giant step toward the unified perception that reflects God’s knowing. As you take this step and hold this direction, you will be pushing toward the centre of your thought system, where the fundamental change will occur. At the second step progress is intermittent, but the second step is easier than the first because it follows. Realising that it must follow is a demonstration of a growing awareness that the Holy Spirit will lead you on.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 20

Lesson 50
I am sustained by the Love of God.

Here is the answer to every problem that will confront you, today and tomorrow and throughout time. In this world, you believe you are sustained by everything but God. Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols; pills, money, “protective” clothing, influence, prestige, being liked, knowing the “right” people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness that you endow with magical powers.

All these things are your replacements for the Love of God. All these things are cherished to ensure a body identification. They are songs of praise to the ego. Do not put your faith in the worthless. It will not sustain you.

Only the Love of God will protect you in all circumstances. It will lift you out of every trial, and raise you high above all the perceived dangers of this world into a climate of perfect peace and safety. It will transport you into a state of mind that nothing can threaten, nothing can disturb, and where nothing can intrude upon the eternal calm of the Son of God.

Put not your faith in illusions. They will fail you. Put all your faith in the Love of God within you; eternal, changeless and forever unfailing. This is the answer to whatever confronts you today. Through the Love of God within you, you can resolve all seeming difficulties without effort and in sure confidence. Tell yourself this often today. It is a declaration of release from the belief in idols. It is your acknowledgment of the truth about yourself.

For ten minutes, twice today, morning and evening, let the idea for today sink deep into your consciousness. Repeat it, think about it, let related thoughts come to help you recognize its truth, and allow peace to flow over you like a blanket of protection and surety. Let no idle and foolish thoughts enter to disturb the holy mind of the Son of God. Such is the Kingdom of Heaven . Such is the resting place where your Father has placed you forever.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #174-a: How does A Course in Miracles deal with severe woundedness? For many years, I have struggled with the inequality of parents and children, focused on abuse I received on all levels, resulting in impoverished development even though I am very bright. I have two questions:

#174-b: How can I forgive evil? What happened to me is evil, sourced in escape of responsibility and outright violation — emotionally, spiritually, mentally, personally.

#174-c: What am I? What does it mean to be a spiritual creature (my body is light) while living in a world made of hate, conflict, and power?

A: The world is a desperate, cruel place, filled with the effects of evil thoughts. People can be unconscionably vicious and brutal to each other, abusing those over whom they have power, much as they have been abused by those who have had power over them. It is a vicious cycle from which no escape seems possible. Yet escape is possible, if we are willing to look beneath the surface of our ready judgments of good and evil and our facile distinctions between the guilty and the innocent.

Now there may be a way of understanding what motivated your parents to treat you as they did, but that does not mean there is any justification for it. Yet you also are recognizing that holding on to the judgment and the pain only keeps you trapped in mental anguish that paralyzes you and prevents you from experiencing the joy and peace that we are assured is our God-given inheritance (W.pI.104).

The Course recognizes that “frightened people can be vicious” (T.3.I.4:2). This awareness holds the key to releasing ourselves and everyone else from the grips of evil. It is fear that motivates all of us to act out our evil thoughts, and not inherent evil. No one in the world is immune from having thoughts of evil — that is the nature of the ego thought system that we all share. Some of us may have become better than others at curbing our overt behavior. But rage bordering on the murderous simmers within each of our minds until we learn how to uncover the guilt that fuels the rage and allow it to be healed in the light of the Holy Spirit’s forgiveness. The ego is complete and total darkness — there is no light within its tightly sealed boundaries — and we all grope for our way, stumbling without hope while we remain identified with its evil purposes.

We are all one in sharing the wrong-minded ego, although we may differ in how we give it expression in our lives. But until we acknowledge its presence within us, we will be caught in dysfunctional attempts to defend against the guilt and self-hatred that are the inevitable companions of our belief in the darkness within. We will seek to project that guilt outside ourselves and on to others. And so we will lash out, wanting to hold others responsible for the pain that comes from feeling separated from love. Some find socially appropriate but still ego-motivated ways to channel this overwhelming experience of pain and guilt. Others direct it out with little or no concern for its effects on others. And so these become the rapists, the murderers, the child abusers. And it becomes easy to see the sin and guilt within them, as a testament to our own “innocence.” Yet what drives them is no different from what drives all of us who have not uncovered these unconscious dynamics in order to begin to heal them. And so the first step in our own healing — after acknowledging our judgments against the murderer, the rapist, the abuser — is to recognize the common “humanity” that we all share — a desperate, pain-filled identity that places self-interest and self-preservation above everything else. We all do it, but our cover may just be better.

If we can begin to get in touch with the fact that our own pain is the same as everyone else’s pain, and it is only that pain which leads all of us to act in insane ways, we have opened the door to a more merciful and compassionate view of both ourselves and everyone else. For we will have begun to see that whatever cruelty any of us acts out is only a defense against the guilt and pain within — the same guilt and pain that we all experience.

This is not to say that our own experiences of abuse should be denied. But there is a step beyond acknowledging the pain that we have felt at others’ hands that we will take when we are ready to move beyond the pain. The problem in the present is not the events of the past themselves but the interpretation we are continuing to give them. And the Course provides us a different way of looking at those past events, helping us to understand what at a deeper level motivated the abusive actions, and how we share that same deeper motivation in our own life as we have been living it with the ego’s guidance. Only then can we recognize the choice we have in the present to be released from the pain of our own self-judgments.

We are all looking for a way out of our pain, but we blindly think and act in ways that continue to inflict pain upon ourselves — judgments and attacks against others that only reinforce the belief in separation that is the foundation of the ego thought system. When we begin to recognize the content of fear behind the ego’s cruelty — either someone else’s or own — the judgments we have been holding onto can begin to dissolve. We will have begun to shift from the self-interest of the ego to the shared interest of the Holy Spirit, Who recognizes that we are all joined in the same need for release from the guilt and pain of the ego thought system. That recognition of shared interests is a reflection of the love that we all yearn for and the Oneness that we all share as the holy and innocent Son of God, an Identity that transcends the shared ego and its manifestations, from which the illusion of evil has arisen.

jesus there is no death