ACIM Text Reading for March 14
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
II. The Answer to Prayer
Everyone who ever tried to use prayer to ask for something has experienced what appears to be failure. This is not only true in connection with specific things that might be harmful, but also in connection with requests that are strictly in line with this course. The latter in particular might be incorrectly interpreted as ‘proof’ that the course does not mean what it says. You must remember, however, that the course states, and repeatedly, that its purpose is the escape from fear.
Let us suppose, then, that what you ask of the Holy Spirit is what you really want, but you are still afraid of it. Should this be the case, your attainment of it would no longer be what you want. This is why certain specific forms of healing are not achieved, even when the state of healing is. An individual may ask for physical healing because he is fearful of bodily harm. At the same time, if he were healed physically, the threat to his thought system might be considerably more fearful to him than its physical expression. In this case he is not really asking for release from fear, but for the removal of a symptom that he himself selected. This request is, therefore, not for healing at all.
The Bible emphasises that all prayer is answered, and this is indeed true. The very fact that the Holy Spirit has been asked for anything will ensure a response. Yet it is equally certain that no response given by Him will ever be one that would increase fear. It is possible that His answer will not be heard. It is impossible, however, that it will be lost. There are many answers you have already received but have not yet heard. I assure you that they are waiting for you.
If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God. Do not question him and do not confound him, for your faith in him is your faith in yourself. If you would know God and His Answer, believe in me whose faith in you cannot be shaken. Can you ask of the Holy Spirit truly, and doubt your brother? Believe his words are true because of the truth that is in him. You will unite with the truth in him, and his words will be true. As you hear him you will hear me. Listening to truth is the only way you can hear it now, and finally know it.
The message your brother gives you is up to you. What does he say to you? What would you have him say? Your decision about him determines the message you receive. Remember that the Holy Spirit is in him, and His Voice speaks to you through him. What can so holy a brother tell you except truth? But are you listening to it? Your brother may not know who he is, but there is a light in his mind that does know. This light can shine into yours, giving truth to his words and making you able to hear them. His words are the Holy Spirit’s answer to you. Is your faith in him strong enough to let you hear?
You can no more pray for yourself alone than you can find joy for yourself alone. Prayer is the restatement of inclusion, directed by the Holy Spirit under the laws of God. Salvation is of your brother. The Holy Spirit extends from your mind to his, and answers you. You cannot hear the Voice for God in yourself alone, because you are not alone. And His answer is only for what you are. You will not know the trust I have in you unless you extend it. You will not trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit, or believe that it is for you unless you hear it in others. It must be for your brother because it is for you. Would God have created a Voice for you alone? Could you hear His answer except as He answers all of God’s Sons? Hear of your brother what you would have me hear of you, for you would not want me to be deceived.
I love you for the truth in you, as God does. Your deceptions may deceive you, but they cannot deceive me. Knowing what you are, I cannot doubt you. I hear only the Holy Spirit in you, Who speaks to me through you. If you would hear me, hear my brothers in whom God’s Voice speaks. The answer to all prayers lies in them. You will be answered as you hear the answer in everyone. Do not listen to anything else or you will not hear truly.
Believe in your brothers because I believe in you, and you will learn that my belief in you is justified. Believe in me by believing in them, for the sake of what God gave them. They will answer you if you learn to ask only truth of them. Do not ask for blessings without blessing them, for only in this way can you learn how blessed you are. By following this way you are seeking the truth in you. This is not going beyond yourself but toward yourself. Hear only God’s Answer in His Sons, and you are answered.
To disbelieve is to side against, or to attack. To believe is to accept; and to side with. To believe is not to be credulous, but to accept and appreciate. What you do not believe you do not appreciate, and you cannot be grateful for what you do not value. There is a price you will pay for judgement, because judgement is the setting of a price. And as you set it you will pay it.
If paying is equated with getting, you will set the price low but demand a high return. You will have forgotten, however, that to price is to value, so that your return is in proportion to your judgement of worth. If paying is associated with giving it cannot be perceived as loss, and the reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving will be recognised. The price will then be set high, because of the value of the return. The price for getting is to lose sight of value, making it inevitable that you will not value what you receive. Valuing it little, you will not appreciate it and you will not want it.
Never forget, then, that you set the value on what you receive, and price it by what you give. To believe that it is possible to get much for little is to believe that you can bargain with God. God’s laws are always fair and perfectly consistent. By giving you receive. But to receive is to accept, not to get. It is impossible not to have, but it is possible not to know you have. The recognition of having is the willingness for giving, and only by this willingness can you recognise what you have. What you give is therefore the value you put on what you have, being the exact measure of the value you put upon it. And this, in turn, is the measure of how much you want it.
You can ask of the Holy Spirit, then, only by giving to Him, and you can give to Him only where you recognise Him. If you recognise Him in everyone, consider how much you will be asking of Him, and how much you will receive. He will deny you nothing because you have denied Him nothing, and so you can share everything. This is the way, and the only way to have His answer, because His answer is all you can ask for and want. Say, then, to everyone:
Because I will to know myself, I see you as God’s Son and my brother.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 14
I will there be light.
Today we are considering the will you share with God. This is not the same as the ego’s idle wishes, out of which darkness and nothingness arise. The will you share with God has all the power of creation in it. The ego’s idle wishes are unshared, and therefore have no power at all. Its wishes are not idle in the sense that they can make a world of illusions in which your belief can be very strong. But they are idle indeed in terms of creation. They make nothing that is real.
Idle wishes and grievances are partners or co-makers in picturing the world you see. The wishes of the ego gave rise to it, and the ego’s need for grievances, which are necessary to maintain it, peoples it with figures that seem to attack you and call for “righteous” judgment. These figures become the middlemen the ego employs to traffic in grievances. They stand between your awareness and your brothers’ reality. Beholding them, you do not know your brothers or your Self.
Your will is lost to you in this strange bartering, in which guilt is traded back and forth, and grievances increase with each exchange. Can such a world have been created by the Will the Son of God shares with his Father? Did God create disaster for His Son? Creation is the Will of Both together. Would God create a world that kills Himself?
Today we will try once more to reach the world that is in accordance with your will. The light is in it because it does not oppose the Will of God. It is not Heaven, but the light of Heaven shines on it. Darkness has vanished. The ego’s idle wishes have been withdrawn. Yet the light that shines upon this world reflects your will, and so it must be in you that we will look for it.
Your picture of the world can only mirror what is within. The source of neither light nor darkness can be found without. Grievances darken your mind, and you look out on a darkened world. Forgiveness lifts the darkness, reasserts your will, and lets you look upon a world of light. We have repeatedly emphasized that the barrier of grievances is easily passed, and cannot stand between you and your salvation. The reason is very simple. Do you really want to be in hell? Do you really want to weep and suffer and die?
Forget the ego’s arguments which seek to prove all this is really Heaven. You know it is not so. You cannot want this for yourself. There is a point beyond which illusions cannot go. Suffering is not happiness, and it is happiness you really want. Such is your will in truth. And so salvation is your will as well. You want to succeed in what we are trying to do today. We undertake it with your blessing and your glad accord.
We will succeed today if you remember that you want salvation for yourself. You want to accept God’s plan because you share in it. You have no will that can really oppose it, and you do not want to do so. Salvation is for you. Above all else, you want the freedom to remember Who you really are. Today it is the ego that stands powerless before your will. Your will is free, and nothing can prevail against it.
Therefore, we undertake the exercises for today in happy confidence, certain that we will find what it is your will to find, and remember what it is your will to remember. No idle wishes can detain us, nor deceive us with an illusion of strength. Today let your will be done, and end forever the insane belief that it is hell in place of Heaven that you choose.
We will begin our longer practice periods with the recognition that God’s plan for salvation, and only His, is wholly in accord with your will. It is not the purpose of an alien power, thrust upon you unwillingly. It is the one purpose here on which you and your Father are in perfect accord. You will succeed today, the time appointed for the release of the Son of God from hell and from all idle wishes. His will is now restored to his awareness. He is willing this very day to look upon the light in him and be saved.
After reminding yourself of this, and determining to keep your will clearly in mind, tell yourself with gentle firmness and quiet certainty:
I will there be light. Let me behold the light that reflects
God’s Will and mine.
Then let your will assert itself, joined with the power of God and united with your Self. Put the rest of the practice period under Their guidance. Join with Them as They lead the way.
In the shorter practice periods, again make a declaration of what you really want. Say:
I will there be light. Darkness is not my will.
This should be repeated several times an hour. It is most important, however, to apply today’s idea in this form immediately you are tempted to hold a grievance of any kind. This will help you let your grievances go, instead of cherishing them and hiding them in darkness.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #188: After studying A Course in Miracles for 11 years, I’m only now beginning to understand how much I don’t want to learn it. I know this really means how much I fear it, and that I might need to be more “gentle” with myself. But trying to take things less seriously would seem to undermine the Course’s attempt to show us just how deeply we are committed to the ego thought system. Thank you for any suggestions on this, from a student who still loves being the dream figure amid glimpses that he is not.
A: Apparently, trying to take things less seriously has in fact shown you “just how deeply we are committed to the ego thought system”. Taking things less seriously is not as easy as it may sound. Any attempt to do so leads us to realize that we do take things very seriously. In studying the Course, we soon become aware that if we begin to take some aspects of the ego thought system less seriously we will end up taking the whole thing less seriously. In the end, rather than undermining the Course’s teaching, this will actually undermine the ego’s thought system. This is why we don’t do it. And this is why we don’t want to learn what the Course teaches. This in itself is an important and helpful realization. It means that you have some understanding of what the Course is saying about who we are (the dreamer of the dream), and more importantly, who we are not (a figure in the dream). A clear recognition of our resistance to learning this gives us an appreciation for the process and, as you say, the need for gentleness in applying the teachings of the Course.
It is not surprising that it is difficult to take things less seriously. The Course does not discount how seriously we have taken our mistaken beliefs about ourselves and our world. “No one believes there really was a time when he knew nothing of a body, and could never have conceived this world as real. He would have seen at once that these ideas are one illusion, too ridiculous for anything but to be laughed away. How serious they now appear to be! And no one can remember when they would have met with laughter and with disbelief. We can remember this, if we but look directly at their cause. And we will see the grounds for laughter, not a cause for fear” (T.27.VIII.5:5,6,7,8,9,10).
Our learning process requires that first we recognize just how seriously we take ourselves. Trying to force ourselves not to take things seriously probably won’t work. The only way we can learn to do this is mentioned in the quote above. We need to learn to look at the cause of our beliefs. The cause is the decision in the mind to separate from God, and then believe it is an accomplished fact. The Course is telling us this is ridiculous, and eventually we will laugh at it. This will happen when we have let go of our guilt over having taken it seriously in the first place. Obviously we are not laughing yet. You may find it helpful to practice not taking your resistance too seriously, and not judging yourself for your love of being a figure in the dream. Our resistance and unwillingness do not change truth, or justify our fear, and we are not banished from Heaven because of them. Furthermore, full acceptance is not required for us to practice what the Course teaches. As the Introduction to the workbook tells us: “Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy” (W.in.9:1,2,3). If you continue to remind yourself that what you see and experience in the dream is not real and has no effect on the real you, it will become increasingly easier to take things less seriously. Each remembrance strengthens belief in the Holy Spirit’s thought system and diminishes our “seriousness.” As with God, the laughter is inevitable.