ACIM Text Reading for February 1
Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego
IV. This Need Not Be
If you cannot hear the Voice for God, it is because you do not choose to listen. That you do listen to the voice of your ego is demonstrated by your attitudes, your feelings and your behaviour. Yet this is what you want. This is what you are fighting to keep, and what you are vigilant to save. Your mind is filled with schemes to save the face of your ego, and you do not seek the face of Christ. The glass in which the ego seeks to see its face is dark indeed. How can it maintain the trick of its existence except with mirrors? But where you look to find yourself is up to you.
I have said that you cannot change your mind by changing your behaviour, but I have also said, and many times, that you can change your mind. When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be. In every case you have thought wrongly about some brother God created, and are perceiving images your ego makes in a darkened glass. Think honestly what you have thought that God would not have thought, and what you have not thought that God would have you think. Search sincerely for what you have done and left undone accordingly, and then change your mind to think with God’s. This may seem hard to do, but it is much easier than trying to think against it. Your mind is one with God’s. Denying this and thinking otherwise has held your ego together, but has literally split your mind. As a loving brother I am deeply concerned with your mind, and urge you to follow my example as you look at yourself and at your brother, and see in both the glorious creations of a glorious Father.
When you are sad, know this need not be. Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise.
When you are anxious, realise that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego, and know this need not be. You can be as vigilant against the ego’s dictates as for them.
When you feel guilty, remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not. Leave the ‘sins’ of the ego to me. That is what Atonement is for. But until you change your mind about those whom your ego has hurt, the Atonement cannot release you. While you feel guilty your ego is in command, because only the ego can experience guilt. This need not be.
Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it. It offers you nothing. When you have given up this voluntary dis-spiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal. Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself. This need not be.
The habit of engaging with God and His creations is easily made if you actively refuse to let your mind slip away. The problem is not one of concentration; it is the belief that no one, including yourself, is worth consistent effort. Side with me consistently against this deception, and do not permit this shabby belief to pull you back. The disheartened are useless to themselves and to me, but only the ego can be disheartened.
Have you really considered how many opportunities you have had to gladden yourself, and how many of them you have refused? There is no limit to the power of a Son of God, but he can limit the expression of his power as much as he chooses. Your mind and mine can unite in shining your ego away, releasing the strength of God into everything you think and do. Do not settle for anything less than this, and refuse to accept anything but this as your goal. Watch your mind carefully for any beliefs that hinder its accomplishment, and step away from them. Judge how well you have done this by your own feelings, for this is the one right use of judgement. Judgement, like any other defence, can be used to attack or protect; to hurt or to heal. The ego should be brought to judgement and found wanting there. Without your own allegiance, protection and love, the ego cannot exist. Let it be judged truly and you must withdraw allegiance, protection and love from it.
You are a mirror of truth, in which God Himself shines in perfect light. To the ego’s dark glass you need but say, ‘I will not look there because I know these images are not true’. Then let the Holy One shine on you in peace, knowing that this and only this must be. His Mind shone on you in your creation and brought your mind into being. His Mind still shines on you and must shine through you. Your ego cannot prevent Him from shining on you, but it can prevent you from letting Him shine through you.
The First Coming of Christ is merely another name for the creation, for Christ is the Son of God. The Second Coming of Christ means nothing more than the end of the ego’s rule and the healing of the mind. I was created like you in the First, and I have called you to join me in the Second. I am in charge of the Second Coming, and my judgement, which is used only for protection, cannot be wrong because it never attacks. Yours may be so distorted that you believe I was mistaken in choosing you. I assure you this is a mistake of your ego. Do not mistake it for humility. Your ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not, because if I am real, I am no more real than you are. That knowledge, and I assure you that it is knowledge, means that Christ has come into your mind and healed it.
I do not attack your ego. I do work with your higher mind, the home of the Holy Spirit, whether you are asleep or awake, just as your ego does with your lower mind, which is its home. I am your vigilance in this, because you are too confused to recognise your own hope. I am not mistaken. Your mind will elect to join with mine, and together we are invincible. You and your brother will yet come together in my name, and your sanity will be restored. I raised the dead by knowing that life is an eternal attribute of everything that the living God created. Why do you believe it is harder for me to inspire the dis-spirited or to stabilise the unstable? I do not believe that there is an order of difficulty in miracles; you do. I have called and you will answer. I understand that miracles are natural, because they are expressions of love. My calling you is as natural as your answer, and as inevitable.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 1
I have invented the world I see.
Today we are continuing to develop the theme of cause and effect. You are not the victim of the world you see because you invented it. You can give it up as easily as you made it up. You will see it or not see it, as you wish. While you want it you will see it; when you no longer want it, it will not be there for you to see.
The idea for today, like the preceding ones, applies to your inner and outer worlds, which are actually the same. However, since you see them as different, the practice periods for today will again include two phases, one involving the world you see outside you, and the other the world you see in your mind. In today’s exercises, try to introduce the thought that both are in your own imagination.
Again we will begin the practice periods for the morning and evening by repeating the idea for today two or three times while looking around at the world you see as outside yourself. Then close your eyes and look around your inner world. Try to treat them both as equally as possible. Repeat the idea for today unhurriedly as often as you wish, as you watch the images your imagination presents to your awareness.
For the two longer practice periods three to five minutes are recommended, with not less than three required. More than five can be utilized, if you find the exercise restful. To facilitate this, select a time when few distractions are anticipated, and when you yourself feel reasonably ready.
These exercises are also to be continued during the day, as often as possible. The shorter applications consist of repeating the idea slowly, as you survey either your inner or outer world. It does not matter which you choose.
The idea for today should also be applied immediately to any situation that may distress you. Apply the idea by telling yourself:
I have invented this situation as I see it.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1026: “Your ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not, because if I am real, I am no more real than you are” (T.4.IV.10.8). Would you comment on this sentence? It confuses me. I am not sure what Jesus is saying here.
A: There are two parts to this statement. The first part — “The ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not” — is what we would expect of the ego, that it would try to convince us that separation, which the ego symbolizes, is reality, and oneness, which Jesus symbolizes, is not. The purpose of A Course in Miracles is to lead us to accept the Atonement for ourselves, which means that we come to recognize that the separation never happened. So if Jesus, as the symbol of oneness, is real, then the ego is not. Since the ego’s only purpose is self-preservation, regardless of the truth, it must make every effort to persuade us that the Jesus of the Course is not real.
The second part of the statement — “because if I am real, I am no more real than you are” — is another way of saying that if Jesus is real, we are all the same, and ultimately we are all one. The ego, confronted with the reality of Jesus, can only hope to persuade us that he is very different from us — God’s only Son, divine, innocent while we are guilty, existing before us through all of eternity. If the Jesus the ego is willing for us to embrace were real, the ego could remain in business, for the separation would be confirmed. That is what has made Christianity and its central figure Jesus so popular across the centuries — they affirm the reality of separation and differences and sin, as well as attack and victimization.
But the Course’s message is that we are all the same because we are all one. There are no differences that mean anything. If the Jesus who is like us is real and exists, then the ego and all its perceived differences are meaningless. And sin and guilt are nothing but idle fantasies with no effects. And all of this, to the ego, is blasphemous.
Q #98: A Course in Miracles seems to be saying very clearly that it is important for the individual reading the book (and each and every Son of God who believes he is separated) to fulfill the Holy Spirit’s purpose for the world and time by accepting the Atonement, that is, that the separation never happened, and that the Son of God is one (the Christ) and at home in God the Father.
My question is this: It appears from the above that it will make a difference when “I” or “All” the Sons of God accept the Atonement. Otherwise why would Jesus and the Holy Spirit and God go through all this trouble of bringing the Course into the dream and working with us daily in our struggle to recognize the truth? So what is that difference?
I realize our real Self never separated from the Father so nothing happened in reality. But still, here is the Course, telling us our realization of what the Course teaches is “required.” I don’t mean this facetiously, but very sincerely: What difference will it all make?
A: It may appear that Jesus or the Holy Spirit have some investment in our accepting the Course’s message, but that is really only a projection of our own ego. The reference to the Course being “required” (T.in.1:2) was really intended only as a message for Helen when she was questioning whether she wanted to do what it was asking her to do, even though she in fact knew it was the answer to her and Bill’s request for another way.
It may also seem that Jesus and the Holy Spirit — God could not be involved because He is beyond all words and symbols, including the specific symbols of the Course (M.21.1:7) — have gone to a lot of trouble to give us the Course and get us to practice it, but that is not in fact the reality. They simply are a presence in our mind that reminds us of the alternative to our ego’s thought system (T.5.II.7.1,2,3,4) and it is our own split mind that gives form to that reminder, in a way that we can understand and benefit from. For a more detailed discussion of this, you may wish to refer to the section, “Helen and Jesus: The Illusion and the Reality,” in chapter 17 of Absence from Felicity by Kenneth Wapnick.
Nevertheless, although there is no pressure or urgency as far as Jesus or the Holy Spirit are concerned to have us follow the Course’s teachings — they know nothing here is real even if we don’t — your question still calls out for an answer. What difference does it make when we accept the Atonement for ourselves? The only difference is how much time we spend in pain — and that is our choice. As Jesus observes, “Nothing is ever lost but time, which in the end is meaningless…Yet since you do believe in it, why should you waste it going nowhere….it is hard indeed to wander off, alone and miserable, down a road that leads to nothing and that has no purpose” (T.26.V.2:1,3,6). And so the Course offers us a gentle process for undoing time and its effects, with no demand or insistence about it. Jesus only ever offers us gentle encouragement to look at the consequences of our choice for the ego, describing, in what we may experience as excruciating detail, how we are inflicting pain upon ourselves and how we can make a different choice.
Q #205: I may be wrong in this interpretation, but A Course in Miracles seems to be saying that none of us will enter into Heaven alone. Does this mean that every soul that thinks it is separate must accept and live the Atonement before anyone goes to Heaven? What happens to the souls that have not accepted the Atonement when the body is laid aside?
A: Yes, A Course in Miracles does say that “no one can enter Heaven by himself” (W.pI.134.17:7). But this does not mean that “every soul that thinks it is separate must accept and live the Atonement before anyone goes to Heaven.” Jesus is correcting our faulty thinking that we are separate, autonomous individuals, and that we can, for example, condemn others without having that judgment affect ourselves. Thus, preceding the above quotation, he says “In everything you do remember this: No one is crucified alone” (W.pI.134.17:7). Similarly: “Brother, you need forgiveness of your brother, for you will share in madness or in Heaven together. And you and he will raise your eyes in faith together, or not at all” (T.19.IV.D.12:7,8).
The point of the teaching is that we are joined as one Sonship, so that we are mistaken anytime we think: I am worthy of passing through the gate of Heaven, but this other person or group is not and never will be; or, this other person is worthy and I am not. Jesus is helping us restore our minds to their original state as Christ, the one Son of God. He is using our language to get us beyond our usual way of perceiving, which is always grounded in separation, division, individuality, and linear time. The process is not linear. There is no “waiting.” That is how we would envision the process from our perspective in time and space; but the process is entirely outside our temporal framework, and therefore not something we can fully understand. There is only the illusion of many unhealed minds. There is only one mind that is in need of healing, and that is yours. If you can keep that as your focus as you practice the Course, you will indeed learn its lessons and integrate its message.
Finally, it is not necessary to lay the body aside in order to accept the Atonement. The body would just be properly perceived, i.e., as a thought that has never left its source in the mind. Jesus knew he was not his body, and therefore never suffered. Things happened to his body, but they did not happen to him. That is why he asks to take him as our model. He did not perceive himself as victimized. His mind was healed. Lesson 226 describes this from a different angle, but it is the same idea: “If I so choose, I can depart this world entirely. It is not death which makes this possible, but it is change of mind about the purpose of the world. If I believe it has a value as I see it now, so will it remain for me. But if I see no value in the world as I behold it, nothing that I want to keep as mine or search for as a goal, it will depart from me. For I have not sought for illusions to replace the truth” (W.pI.226.1).