ACIM Text Reading for March 4
Chapter 8 ~ THE JOURNEY BACK
I. The Direction of the Curriculum
Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This is the prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is the condition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. Knowledge can be restored only when you meet its conditions. This is not a bargain made by God, Who makes no bargains. It is merely the result of your misuse of His laws on behalf of an imaginary will that is not His. Knowledge is His Will. If you are opposing His Will, how can you have knowledge? I have told you what knowledge offers you, but perhaps you do not yet regard this as wholly desirable. If you did you would not be so ready to throw it away when the ego asks for your allegiance.
The distractions of the ego may seem to interfere with your learning, but the ego bas no power to distract you unless you give it the power to do so. The ego’s voice is an hallucination. You cannot expect it to say ‘I am not real’. Yet you are not asked to dispel your hallucinations alone. You are merely asked to evaluate them in terms of their results to you. If you do not want them on the basis of loss of peace, they will be removed from your mind for you.
Every response to the ego is a call to war, and war does deprive you of peace. Yet in this war there is no opponent. This is the reinterpretation of reality that you must make to secure peace, and the only one you need ever make. Those whom you perceive as opponents are part of your peace, which you are giving up by attacking them. How can you have what you give up? You share to have, but you do not give it up yourself. When you give up peace, you are excluding yourself from it. This is a condition so alien to the Kingdom that you cannot understand the state that prevails within it.
Your past learning must have taught you the wrong things, simply because it has not made you happy. On this basis alone its value should be questioned. If learning aims at change, and that is always its purpose, are you satisfied with the changes your learning has brought you? Dissatisfaction with learning outcomes is a sign of learning failure, since it means that you did not get what you wanted.
The curriculum of the Atonement is the opposite of the curriculum you have established for yourself, but so is its outcome. If the outcome of yours has made you unhappy, and if you want a different one, a change in the curriculum is obviously necessary. The first change to be introduced is a change in direction. A meaningful curriculum cannot be inconsistent. If it is planned by two teachers, each believing in diametrically opposed ideas, it cannot be integrated. If it is carried out by these two teachers simultaneously, each one merely interferes with the other. This leads to fluctuation, but not to change. The volatile have no direction. They cannot choose one because they cannot relinquish the other, even if it does not exist. Their conflicted curriculum teaches them that all directions exist, and gives them no rationale for choice.
The total senselessness of such a curriculum must be fully recognised before a real change in direction becomes possible. You cannot learn simultaneously from two teachers who are in total disagreement about everything. Their joint curriculum presents an impossible learning task. They are teaching you entirely different things in entirely different ways, which might be possible except that both are teaching you about yourself. Your reality is unaffected by both, but if you listen to both, your mind will be split about what your reality is.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 4
The light of the world brings peace to every mind
through my forgiveness.
How holy are you who have the power to bring peace to every mind! How blessed are you who can learn to recognize the means for letting this be done through you! What purpose could you have that would bring you greater happiness?
You are indeed the light of the world with such a function. The Son of God looks to you for his redemption. It is yours to give him, for it belongs to you. Accept no trivial purpose or meaningless desire in its place, or you will forget your function and leave the Son of God in hell. This is no idle request that is being asked of you. You are being asked to accept salvation that it may be yours to give.
Recognizing the importance of this function, we will be happy to remember it very often today. We will begin the day by acknowledging it, and close the day with the thought of it in our awareness. And throughout the day we will repeat this as often as we can:
The light of the world brings peace to every mind
through my forgiveness. I am the means God has
appointed for the salvation of the world.
If you close your eyes, you will probably find it easier to let the related thoughts come to you in the minute or two that you should devote to considering this. Do not, however, wait for such an opportunity. No chance should be lost for reinforcing today’s idea. Remember that God’s Son looks to you for his salvation. And Who but your Self must be His Son?
For a Free Audio Download of Today’s Text Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1306: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for seven years, and my mind has changed for sure! Now I would like to ask your opinion about a situation that is causing conflict in my life. I fired my maid, who had been working for me for nine years, when I discovered that she had been stealing money from me. I feel at peace about what I did, and I don’t feel any anger toward her. I am still in touch with her, but feel that I cannot trust her enough to give her a job in my house again. A professional colleague told me that by firing the maid, I did the opposite of what A Course in Miracles teaches — a few other Course students agreed with that. But I still feel that I did the right thing, and feel peaceful about it.
A: From the Course’s perspective, the issue is not about the behavior of firing your maid. Firing an employee is neither loving nor unloving in itself. Only the content in your mind determines whether it is loving or not, which means you can be motivated by the ego or the Holy Spirit. With your ego, you would perceive yourself as the victim and your maid as the victimizer, and therefore you would feel justified in being angry and punitive. With the Holy Spirit, you would not perceive a victim and a victimizer; and therefore the love in your right mind would direct you to do whatever is best for both of you in that situation. That could mean firing her or not firing her; but there would be no hatred, anger, guilt, or fear. You would feel peaceful.
There is nothing wrong in recognizing another person’s ego at work and then limiting that person’s ability to act it out. You would not hire a known pedophile to stay with your children while you were away; but that does not mean you would not see him as a Son of God with the same right mind, wrong mind, and decision maker that you have. It is just common sense not to allow him to stay with your children while you are not there. Similarly, if you served on a jury, you could be motivated by love to vote “guilty,” which could result in the defendant going to jail for a very long time. Again, you would see the judge, the defendant, and the person bringing the charges as part of the Sonship with you — no hatred, no anger, no one or the other . It is a serious mistake to think that forgiveness means that you must keep a dishonest person on your staff, have a pedophile take care of your children, or never vote “guilty” on a jury.
Without realizing it, many Course students are saying there is a hierarchy of illusions — that some things and behaviors are always holy or spiritual and others are always unholy or unspiritual. How can that be, though, if everything here is illusory? One part of an illusion cannot be better or worse than another. The very first lesson in the workbook points us in that direction: “Nothing I see in this room . . . means anything” (W.pI.1). Jesus is training us to focus on the choices we are making in our minds rather than on the external behavior; and he wants us to learn also that there are only two choice we can ever make: to believe that our existence as separate from God is real, or that that is just a mistaken belief that we can now correct through the practice of forgiveness. All of the interactions in our lives, then, can reflect back to us which of these choice we have made. That is the only meaningful part of our lives here.
Q #1010: Within the world of form, in our daily interactions with people, how is it recommended we conduct ourselves without judgment? We meet people and carry on conversation of one type or another, but, invariably, someone else’s name will come up and a “judgment” seems to be made; or in conversing about the current events — political, spiritual, or otherwise — judgments are made. I have felt it very difficult to maintain a “right mind” while living in this world, and have wondered what I will talk about — if not about expressing an opinion about one thing or another, be it positive or negative.
A: It is normal within the world that emanates from the thought of separation to have a point of view and to express it; in fact, it would be impossible not to have preferences and to spend time with some people and not others. Right-mindedness does not mean you cannot have a point of view; you would just not take it seriously; and when you are called upon to make an objective judgment or evaluation, you would do so without the element of condemnation that reinforces differences and separation. A helpful guideline to follow — in terms of the content in your mind — is that if what you say about someone is not true of everyone, it must be coming from your ego, and therefore is an attack. People’s forms differ of course — including opinions — but the forms have nothing to do with what is real about us. Content alone is meaningful, and that content is that everyone, without exception, has a wrong mind, a right mind, and the power to choose between the two. That is the vision that should inform the content in your mind. Once you are clear about that, and you have no investment in one side or the other in a discussion, you automatically will do or say whatever is most loving. That could mean participating in the discussion, not participating, or leaving the gathering.
Course students many times reinforce separation and differences by not participating in conversations that involve judgments about others — gossip and the like. They assume it could never be the right thing to do, without their first having asked for help and remembering that the content of joining with others, not the form of joining is all that matters. They wind up judging people for judging others, thus making the very mistake they accuse others of making. In terms of content, it may be a loving thing to do what others are doing so that you do not make yourself separate. There is no right or wrong behavior in these situations — only on the level of thought. Jesus tells us to do the “outrageous” thing a brother asks of us (T.12.4:1) , but he cautions us not to do it if it is going to harm oneself or someone else (T.16.I.6:4) . Discernment is therefore needed.
What will also help is to keep in mind that the emphasis in Jesus’ teachings about judgment is that it is not sinful; it is just impossible — meaning we do not have the knowledge needed to make judgments. We got ourselves into trouble at the beginning by judging against what was in our best interests — we chose to listen to the ego instead of the Holy Spirit; so we should not put much stock in our ability to make good judgments. That is Jesus’ point, and so he encourages us to proceed from a base of humility. These ideas are discussed in “How Is Judgment Relinquished?” in the manual for teachers (M.10) , and in Lesson 151 in the workbook (W.pI.151) . An attitude of humility helps keep our minds open to have the Voice for God judge through us.
This common problem in students’ processing of the Course’s teachings is addressed in our tape albums, “To Judge or Not to Judge” and “The Meaning of Judgment.” Question #692 on this Service also is relevant.