ACIM Text Reading for March 5
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
II. The Difference Between Imprisonment and Freedom
There is a rationale for choice. Only one Teacher knows what your reality is. If learning to remove the obstacles to that knowledge is the purpose of the curriculum, you must learn it of Him. The ego does not know what it is trying to teach. It is trying to teach you what you are without knowing what you are. It is expert only in confusion. It does not understand anything else. As a teacher, then, the ego is totally confused and totally confusing. Even if you could disregard the Holy Spirit entirely, which is impossible, you could still learn nothing from the ego, because the ego knows nothing.
Is there any possible reason for choosing a teacher such as this? Does the total disregard of anything it teaches make anything but sense? Is this the teacher to whom a Son of God should turn to find himself? The ego has never given you a sensible answer to anything. Simply on the grounds of your own experience with its teaching, should not this alone disqualify it as your future teacher? Yet the ego has done more harm to your learning than this alone. Learning is joyful if it leads you along your natural path, and facilitates the development of what you have. When you are taught against your nature, however, you will lose by your learning because your learning will imprison you. Your will is in your nature, and therefore cannot go against it.
The ego cannot teach you anything as long as your will is free, because you will not listen to it. It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God Who coerces you, because He shares His Will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit’s lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God’s cannot be out of accord because they are one. This is the undoing of everything the ego tries to teach. It is not, then, only the direction of the curriculum that must be unconflicted, but also the content.
The ego tries to teach that you want to oppose God’s Will. This unnatural lesson cannot be learned, and the attempt to learn it is a violation of your own freedom, making you afraid of your will because it is free. The Holy Spirit opposes any imprisoning of the will of a Son of God, knowing that the will of the Son is the Father’s. The Holy Spirit leads you steadily along the path of freedom, teaching you how to disregard or look beyond everything that would hold you back.
We have said that the Holy Spirit teaches you the difference between pain and joy. That is the same as saying He teaches you the difference between imprisonment and freedom. You cannot make this distinction without Him because you have taught yourself that imprisonment is freedom. Believing them to be the same, how can you tell them apart? Can you ask the part of your mind that taught you to believe they are the same, to teach you how they are different?
The Holy Spirit’s teaching takes only one direction and has only one goal. His direction is freedom and His goal is God. Yet He cannot conceive of God without you, because it is not God’s Will to be without you. When you have learned that your will is God’s, you could no more will to be without Him than He could will to be without you. This is freedom and this is joy. Deny yourself this and you are denying God His Kingdom, because He created you for this.
When I said, ‘All power and glory are yours because the Kingdom is His’, this is what I meant. The Will of God is without limit, and all power and glory lie within it. It is boundless in strength and in love and in peace. It has no boundaries because its extension is unlimited, and it encompasses all things because it created all things. By creating all things, it made them part of itself. You are the Will of God because that is how you were created. Because your Creator creates only like Himself, you are like Him. You are part of Him Who is all power and glory, and are therefore as unlimited as He is.
To what else except all power and glory can the Holy Spirit appeal to restore God’s Kingdom? His appeal, then, is merely to what the Kingdom is, and for its own acknowledgement of what it is. When you acknowledge this you bring the acknowledgement automatically to everyone, because you have acknowledged everyone. By your recognition you awaken theirs, and through theirs yours is extended. Awakening runs easily and gladly through the Kingdom; in answer to the Call for God. This is the natural response of every Son of God to the Voice for his Creator, because It is the Voice for his creations and for his own extension.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 5
Let me not forget my function.
Today’s idea is merely another way of saying “Let me not wander into temptation.” The purpose of the world you see is to obscure your function of forgiveness, and provide you with a justification for forgetting it. It is the temptation to abandon God and His Son by taking on a physical appearance. It is this the body’s eyes look upon.
Nothing the body’s eyes seem to see can be anything but a form of temptation, since this was the purpose of the body itself. Yet we have learned that the Holy Spirit has another use for all the illusions you have made, and therefore He sees another purpose in them. To the Holy Spirit, the world is a place where you learn to forgive yourself what you think of as your sins. In this perception, the physical appearance of temptation becomes the spiritual recognition of salvation.
To review our last few lessons, your function here is to be the light of the world, a function given you by God. It is only the arrogance of the ego that leads you to question this, and only the fear of the ego that induces you to regard yourself as unworthy of the task assigned to you by God Himself. The world’s salvation awaits your forgiveness, because through it does the Son of God escape from all illusions, and thus from all temptation. The Son of God is you.
Only by fulfilling the function given you by God will you be happy. That is because your function is to be happy by using the means by which happiness becomes inevitable. There is no other way. Therefore, every time you choose whether or not to fulfill your function, you are really choosing whether or not to be happy.
Let us remember this today. Let us remind ourselves of it in the morning and again at night, and all through the day as well. Prepare yourself in advance for all the decisions you will make today by remembering they are all really very simple. Each one will lead to happiness or unhappiness. Can such a simple decision really be difficult to make? Let not the form of the decision deceive you. Complexity of form does not imply complexity of content. It is impossible that any decision on earth can have a content different from just this one simple choice. That is the only choice the Holy Spirit sees. Therefore it is the only choice there is.
Today, then, let us practice with these thoughts:
Let me not forget my function.
Let me not try to substitute mine for God’s.
Let me forgive and be happy.
At least once devote ten or fifteen minutes today to reflecting on this with closed eyes. Related thoughts will come to help you, if you remember the crucial importance of your function to you and to the world.
In the frequent applications of today’s idea throughout the day, devote several minutes to reviewing these thoughts, and then thinking about them and about nothing else. This will be difficult, at first particularly, since you are not proficient in the mind discipline that it requires. You may need to repeat “Let me not forget my function” quite often to help you concentrate.
Two forms of shorter practice periods are required. At times, do the exercises with your eyes closed, trying to concentrate on the thoughts you are using. At other times, keep your eyes open after reviewing the thoughts, and then look slowly and unselectively around you, telling yourself:
This is the world it is my function to save.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #449: Recently I had a realization that love and fear are based on the same “energy” (or the same “vibration”). And what ego perceives as fear the right mind perceives as love. It is like two sides of one medal. Is my realization right? If so, would the state of anxiety be more valuable than the state of indifference from a spiritual perspective? Would this state of anxiety be the eve of awakening?
A: While your realization has been helpful to you in stepping back from your ego’s fear and recognizing there is another way of looking at things, your description would not, strictly speaking, be consistent with the Course’s approach. Within the framework of A Course in Miracles, only love is real and fear does not exist (T.in), and so they can not share a common origin or basis. A slight modification in one of your statements, however, would be consistent with Course principles: What the ego perceives with fear, the right mind perceives with love. But whenever we speak of anything as being perceived, we are discussing the illusory realm of duality from which love has, by its very nature, been excluded.
So what would be the basis for your insight, from the Course’s perspective? It may be a reflection of the recognition that always, beneath the fear, is the memory of love. As a result, whatever the ego has made to maintain the reality of guilt and fear in our mind, when seen through the Holy Spirit’s gentle perception, becomes a reminder of the love that it was made to conceal (T.12.I.9,10). And so the purpose of everything can always be transformed from the ego’s to the Holy Spirit’s.
With respect to your closing questions, no ego state in itself is more valuable than another. The key to practicing forgiveness, the Course tells us, is to be able to identify our ego in whatever form it appears, whether it be anxiety or indifference or any of its other myriad manifestations (T.15.X.4:2,3,4,5; 5:1,2,3; T.23.III.1,2). Only then can we ask for help in acknowledging the underlying guilt that is fueling these projections, so that it can be released. For to be in denial of our ego reactions is to deny ourselves the opportunity for healing. Any recognition that the ego is controlling our thinking opens the door to the possibility of awakening from our nightmare dream.