ACIM Text Reading for February 15
Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
II. The Alternative to Projection
Any split in mind must involve a rejection of part of it, and this is the belief in separation. The wholeness of God, which is His peace, cannot be appreciated except by a whole mind that recognises the wholeness of God’s creation. By this recognition it knows its Creator. Exclusion and separation are synonymous, as are separation and dissociation. We have said before that the separation was and is dissociation, and that once it occurs projection becomes its main defence, or the device that keeps it going. The reason, however, may not be so obvious as you think.
What you project you disown, and therefore do not believe is yours. You are excluding yourself by the very judgement that you are different from the one on whom you project. Since you have also judged against what you project, you continue to attack it because you continue to keep it separated. By doing this unconsciously, you try to keep the fact that you attacked yourself out of awareness, and thus imagine that you have made yourself safe.
Yet projection will always hurt you. It reinforces your belief in your own split mind, and its only purpose is to keep the separation going. It is solely a device of the ego to make you feel different from your brothers and separated from them. The ego justifies this on the grounds that it makes you seem ‘better’ than they are, thus obscuring your equality with them still further. Projection and attack are inevitably related, because projection is always a means of justifying attack. Anger without projection is impossible. The ego uses projection only to destroy your perception of both yourself and your brothers. The process begins by excluding something that exists in you but which you do not want, and leads directly to excluding you from your brothers.
We have learned, however, that there is an alternative to projection. Every ability of the ego has a better use, because its abilities are directed by the mind, which has a better Voice. The Holy Spirit extends and the ego projects. As their goals are opposed, so is the result.
The Holy Spirit begins by perceiving you as perfect. Knowing this perfection is shared He recognises it in others, thus strengthening it in both. Instead of anger this arouses love for both, because it establishes inclusion. Perceiving equality, the Holy Spirit perceives equal needs. This invites Atonement automatically, because Atonement is the one need in this world that is universal. To perceive yourself this way is the only way in which you can find happiness in the world. That is because it is the acknowledgement that you are not in this world, for the world is unhappy.
How else can you find joy in a joyless place except by realising that you are not there? You cannot be anywhere God did not put you, and God created you as part of Him. That is both where you are and what you are. It is completely unalterable. It is total inclusion. You cannot change it now or ever. It is forever true. It is not a belief, but a Fact. Anything that God created is as true as He is. Its truth lies only in its perfect inclusion in Him Who alone is perfect. To deny this is to deny yourself and Him, since it is impossible to accept one without the other.
The perfect equality of the Holy Spirit’s perception is the reflection of the perfect equality of God’s knowing. The ego’s perception has no counterpart in God, but the Holy Spirit remains the bridge between perception and knowledge. By enabling you to use perception in a way that reflects knowledge, you will ultimately remember it. The ego would prefer to believe that this memory is impossible, yet it is your perception the Holy Spirit guides. Your perception will end where it began. Everything meets in God, because everything was created by Him and in Him.
God created His Sons by extending His Thought, and retaining the extensions of His Thought in His Mind. All His Thoughts are thus perfectly united within themselves and with each other. The Holy Spirit enables you to perceive this wholeness now. God created you to create. You cannot extend His Kingdom until you know of its wholeness.
Thoughts begin in the mind of the thinker, from which they reach outward. This is as true of God’s Thinking as it is of yours. Because your mind is split, you can perceive as well as think. Yet perception cannot escape the basic laws of mind. You perceive from your mind and project your perceptions outward. Although perception of any kind is unreal, you made it and the Holy Spirit can therefore use it well. He can inspire perception and lead it toward God. This convergence seems to be far in the future only because your mind is not in perfect alignment with the idea, and therefore does not want it now.
The Holy Spirit uses time, but does not believe in it. Coming from God He uses everything for good, but He does not believe in what is not true. Since the Holy Spirit is in your mind, your mind can also believe only what is true. The Holy Spirit can speak only for this, because He speaks for God. He tells you to return your whole mind to God, because it has never left Him. If it has never left Him, you need only perceive it as it is to be returned. The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred. The ego cannot prevail against this because it is an explicit statement that the ego never occurred.
The ego can accept the idea that return is necessary because it can so easily make the idea seem difficult. Yet the Holy Spirit tells you that even return is unnecessary, because what never happened cannot be difficult. However, you can make the idea of return both necessary and difficult. Yet it is surely clear that the perfect need nothing, and you cannot experience perfection as a difficult accomplishment, because that is what you are. This is the way in which you must perceive God’s creations, bringing all of your perceptions into the one line the Holy Spirit sees. This line is the direct line of communication with God, and lets your mind converge with His. There is no conflict anywhere in this perception, because it means that all perception is guided by the Holy Spirit, Whose Mind is fixed on God. Only the Holy Spirit can resolve conflict, because only the Holy Spirit is conflict-free. He perceives only what is true in your mind, and extends outward only to what is true in other minds.
The difference between the ego’s projection and the Holy Spirit’s extension is very simple. The ego projects to exclude, and therefore to deceive. The Holy Spirit extends by recognising Himself in every mind, and thus perceives them as one. Nothing conflicts in this perception, because what the Holy Spirit perceives is all the same. Wherever He looks He sees Himself, and because He is united He offers the whole Kingdom always. This is the one message God gave to Him and for which He must speak, because that is what He is. The peace of God lies in that message, and so the peace of God lies in you. The great peace of the Kingdom shines in your mind forever, but it must shine outward to make you aware of it.
The Holy Spirit was given you with perfect impartiality, and only by recognising Him impartially can you recognise Him at all. The ego is legion, but the Holy Spirit is one. No darkness abides anywhere in the Kingdom, but your part is only to allow no darkness to abide in your own mind. This alignment with light is unlimited, because it is in alignment with the light of the world. Each of us is the light of the world, and by joining our minds in this light we proclaim the Kingdom of God together and as one.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 15
God is the Love in which I forgive.
God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.
Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.
Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.
If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:
God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].
The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:
God is the Love in which I forgive myself.
Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:
God is the Love with which I love myself God is the Love in which I am blessed.
The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:
I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.
The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.
The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:
God is the Love in which I forgive you.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #108: As I continue to study A Course in Miracles, I am beginning to understand that the emotion that is commonly called “love” in this world is not at all the same as the “love” referred to in the Course. In fact, I have discovered that in many cases, my ego uses the idea of “love” to cover up a lot of very dysfunctional thinking and behavior. What is the relationship between love as we understand it in the world, and love as expressed in the Course, and how can we use that to guide our lives?
A: The distinction you make between the “love” the Course is referring to and what is called “love” in this world is correct. They are not the same thing. The love of this world is always what the Course calls “special love,” and it is the foundation of the “special relationship.” It not only has properties that are in direct opposition to the love the Course refers to, it is actually a mask for hatred: “It is in the special relationship, born of the hidden wish for special love from God, that the ego’s hatred triumphs. For the special relationship is the renunciation of the Love of God, and the attempt to secure for the self the specialness that He denied” (T.16.V.4:1,2). We are secretly saying to anyone or anything we have a special love relationship with: “God did not love me with the specialness I want, so I will use you to get the special love I think I cannot live without.” What we call “love,” therefore, is our substitute for God’s love. Furthermore, the Course tells us it is hate: “…any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate” (T.21.III1:3). This “hate” is based on the misperception that we are different, incomplete, and needy. In the special love relationship an agreement is made for mutual needs to be met, and thus we seek to fill the void left by our seeming separation from God. And, true to the ego’s mandate “seek but do not find” (T.16.V.6:5), this substitute for God’s love will never satisfy our need, no matter how we try to make it work. Even the most fulfilling “love” relationship will eventually end in death.
What the Course is inviting us to do is to look at our special love relationships from this new perspective, as shocking as it may seem to be, so that we will become willing to open ourselves to a new purpose, and a new interpretation: “A holy relationship starts from a different premise. Each one has looked within and seen no lack. Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining with another, whole as himself. He sees no difference between these selves, for differences are only of the body. Therefore, he looks on nothing he would take. He denies not his own reality because it is the truth”(T.22.in.3:1,2,3,4,5,6).
The important thing to remember is that it is normal, not sinful, to have special relationships, and they will not be taken away. In fact, they can be useful in our lives if we give them to the Holy Spirit to be transformed into holy relationships: “I have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them” (T.17.IV.2:3). In this way, the love we experience with another person becomes a reflection of the love of God in the dream, not a substitute for it.