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.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 20
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.