ACIM Text Reading for March 20
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
VIII. Grandeur versus Grandiosity
Grandeur is of God, and only of Him. Therefore it is in you. Whenever you become aware of it, however dimly, you abandon the ego automatically, because in the presence of the grandeur of God the meaninglessness of the ego becomes perfectly apparent. When this occurs, even though it does not understand it, the ego believes that its ‘enemy’ has struck, and attempts to offer gifts to induce you to return to its ‘protection’. Self-inflation is the only offering it can make. The grandiosity of the ego is its alternative to the grandeur of God. Which will you choose?
Grandiosity is always a cover for despair. It is without hope because it is not real. It is an attempt to counteract your littleness, based on the belief that the littleness is real. Without this belief grandiosity is meaningless, and you could not possibly want it. The essence of grandiosity is competitiveness, because it always involves attack. It is a delusional attempt to outdo, but not to undo. We said before that the ego vacillates between suspiciousness and viciousness. It remains suspicious as long as you despair of yourself. It shifts to viciousness when you decide not to tolerate self-abasement and seek relief. Then it offers you the illusion of attack as a ‘solution’.
The ego does not understand the difference between grandeur and grandiosity, because it sees no difference between miracle impulses and ego-alien beliefs of its own. I told you that the ego is aware of threat to its existence, but makes no distinctions between these two very different kinds of threat. Its profound sense of vulnerability renders it incapable of judgement except in terms of attack. When the ego experiences threat, its only decision is whether to attack now or to withdraw to attack later. If you accept its offer of grandiosity it will attack immediately. If you do not, it will wait.
The ego is immobilised in the presence of God’s grandeur, because His grandeur establishes your freedom. Even the faintest hint of your reality literally drives the ego from your mind, because you will give up all investment in it. Grandeur is totally without illusions, and because it is real it is compellingly convincing. Yet the conviction of reality will not remain with you unless you do not allow the ego to attack it. The ego will make every effort to recover and mobilise its energies against your release. It will tell you that you are insane, and argue that grandeur cannot be a real part of you because of the littleness in which it believes. Yet your grandeur is not delusional because you did not make it. You made grandiosity and are afraid of it because it is a form of attack, but your grandeur is of God, Who created it out of His Love.
From your grandeur you can only bless, because your grandeur is your abundance. By blessing you hold it in your mind, protecting it from illusions and keeping yourself in the Mind of God. Remember always that you cannot be anywhere except in the Mind of God. When you forget this, you will despair and you will attack.
The ego depends solely on your willingness to tolerate it. If you are willing to look upon your grandeur you cannot despair, and therefore you cannot want the ego. Your grandeur is God’s answer to the ego, because it is true. Littleness and grandeur cannot coexist, nor is it possible for them to alternate. Littleness and grandiosity can and must alternate, since both are untrue and are therefore on the same level. Being the level of shift, it is experienced as shifting and extremes are its essential characteristic.
Truth and littleness are denials of each other because grandeur is truth. Truth does not vacillate; it is always true. When grandeur slips away from you, you have replaced it with something you have made. Perhaps it is the belief in littleness; perhaps it is the belief in grandiosity. Yet it must be insane because it is not true. Your grandeur will never deceive you, but your illusions always will. Illusions are deceptions. You cannot triumph, but you are exalted. And in your exalted state you seek others like you and rejoice with them.
It is easy to distinguish grandeur from grandiosity, because love is returned and pride is not. Pride will not produce miracles, and will therefore deprive you of the true witnesses to your reality. Truth is not obscure nor hidden, but its obviousness to you lies in the joy you bring to its witnesses, who show it to you. They attest to your grandeur, but they cannot attest to pride because pride is not shared. God wants you to behold what He created because it is His joy.
Can your grandeur be arrogant when God Himself witnesses to it? And what can be real that has no witnesses? What good can come of it? And if no good can come of it the Holy Spirit cannot use it. What He cannot transform to the Will of God does not exist at all. Grandiosity is delusional, because it is used to replace your grandeur. Yet what God has created cannot be replaced. God is incomplete without you because His grandeur is total, and you cannot be missing from it.
You are altogether irreplaceable in the Mind of God. No one else can fill your part in it, and while you leave your part of it empty your eternal place merely waits for your return. God, through His Voice, reminds you of it, and God Himself keeps your extensions safe within it. Yet you do not know them until you return to them. You cannot replace the Kingdom, and you cannot replace yourself. God, Who knows your value, would not have it so, and so it is not so. Your value is in God’s Mind, and therefore not in yours alone. To accept yourself as God created you cannot be arrogance, because it is the denial of arrogance. To accept your littleness is arrogant, because it means that you believe your evaluation of yourself is truer than God’s.
Yet if truth is indivisible, your evaluation of yourself must be God’s. You did not establish your value and it needs no defence. Nothing can attack it nor prevail over it. It does not vary. It merely is. Ask the Holy Spirit what it is and He will tell you, but do not be afraid of His answer, because it comes from God. It is an exalted answer because of its Source, but the Source is true and so is its answer. Listen and do not question what you hear, for God does not deceive. He would have you replace the ego’s belief in littleness with His Own exalted Answer to what you are, so that you can cease to question it and know it for what it is.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 20
Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.
A problem cannot be solved if you do not know what it is. Even if it is really solved already you will still have the problem, because you will not recognize that it has been solved. This is the situation of the world. The problem of separation, which is really the only problem, has already been solved. Yet the solution is not recognized because the problem is not recognized.
Everyone in this world seems to have his own special problems. Yet they are all the same, and must be recognized as one if the one solution that solves them all is to be accepted. Who can see that a problem has been solved if he thinks the problem is something else? Even if he is given the answer, he cannot see its relevance.
That is the position in which you find yourself now. You have the answer, but you are still uncertain about what the problem is. A long series of different problems seems to confront you, and as one is settled the next one and the next arise. There seems to be no end to them. There is no time in which you feel completely free of problems and at peace.
The temptation to regard problems as many is the temptation to keep the problem of separation unsolved. The world seems to present you with a vast number of problems, each requiring a different answer. This perception places you in a position in which your problem solving must be inadequate, and failure is inevitable.
No one could solve all the problems the world appears to hold. They seem to be on so many levels, in such varying forms and with such varied content, that they confront you with an impossible situation. Dismay and depression are inevitable as you regard them. Some spring up unexpectedly, just as you think you have resolved the previous ones. Others remain unsolved under a cloud of denial, and rise to haunt you from time to time, only to be hidden again but still unsolved.
All this complexity is but a desperate attempt not to recognize the problem, and therefore not to let it be resolved. If you could recognize that your only problem is separation, no matter what form it takes, you could accept the answer because you would see its relevance. Perceiving the underlying constancy in all the problems that seem to confront you, you would understand that you have the means to solve them all. And you would use the means, because you recognize the problem.
In our longer practice periods today we will ask what the problem is, and what is the answer to it. We will not assume that we already know. We will try to free our minds of all the many different kinds of problems we think we have. We will try to realize that we have only one problem, which we have failed to recognize. We will ask what it is, and wait for the answer. We will be told. Then we will ask for the solution to it. And we will be told.
The exercises for today will be successful to the extent to which you do not insist on defining the problem. Perhaps you will not succeed in letting all your preconceived notions go, but that is not necessary. All that is necessary is to entertain some doubt about the reality of your version of what your problems are. You are trying to recognize that you have been given the answer by recognizing the problem, so that the problem and the answer can be brought together and you can be at peace.
The shorter practice periods for today will not be set by time, but by need. You will see many problems today, each one calling for an answer. Our efforts will be directed toward recognizing that there is only one problem and one answer. In this recognition are all problems resolved. In this recognition there is peace.
Be not deceived by the form of problems today. Whenever any difficulty seems to rise, tell yourself quickly:
Let me recognize this problem so it can be solved.
Then try to suspend all judgment about what the problem is. If possible, close your eyes for a moment and ask what it is. You will be heard and you will be answered.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #219: How does A Course in Miracles view the issues of demon possession which some religious organizations treat as real? Does the Course really claim that evil does not exist? Does the Course claim that there is no battle between Good and Evil? And, I am sure it states somewhere in the Course, if my memory is correct, that we do not heal but God does. How then does the Course explain faith healers? I am referring to the legitimate cases supported by the Catholic Church, cases involving individuals that have the stigmata. If the crucifixion is not important they why would these people be afflicted with the wounds of the crucifixion?
A: One of the fundamental differences between Christian theology and A Course in Miracles is the Course teaching that sin is not real. In Christianity, the belief that sin is real is at the root of its entire belief system; it is synonymous with evil. These are, therefore, mutually exclusive teachings, and the beliefs and practices that follow from them are also mutually exclusive. In Christianity, the idea of sin is given different expressions in form, one of which is demon possession. In Christian thought, both sin and evil represent a will in opposition to God’s. This is the nature of sin. The Course, on the other hand, teaches that there is no sin, and no opposition to God’s Will is possible: “…sin is not real, and all that you believe must come from sin [e.g. demon possession] will never happen, for it has no cause. Accept Atonement with an open mind, which cherishes no lingering belief that you have made a devil of God’s Son. There is no sin” (W.pI.101.5:2,3,4). “What is opposed to God does not exist….” (W.pI.137.11:3).
Clearly what does not exist cannot do battle with what is real. According to the Course, only God is real. What appears to do battle in the world is the ego’s made-up idea of what is “good” conflicting with the ego’s made-up idea of what is “evil.” This is the battleground that is home to the ego thought system, but the Course tells us that it is not real. The Course teaching in this regard can be summed up: sin is not real, and so there can be no demon personifying sin; evil does not exist, and so there cannot be a battle between good and evil.
For a Christian believer, the crucifixion and the wounds of the crucified Jesus are very real. Inspired by devotion to these beliefs, a person with a very deep desire to share the sufferings of the crucifixion as a way of identifying with the historical Jesus could experience the physical manifestation of the wounds of the crucifixion, known as the stigmata. However, even the Catholic Church acknowledges that these physical marks can be caused by an intense psychological state, not divine intervention. This neither negates nor proves the person’s devotion. The stigmata has been experienced by persons who were psychologically imbalanced, as well as by those, such as St. Francis of Assisi, who are believed to be a saints. As with everything, the Course brings our focus to the content, never the form. All form, stigmata included, can be the result of the ego’s choice to separate, or, the choice to join in the mind with the Holy Spirit, Who reflects God’s love in the dream. The Course does not say the crucifixion was not important; it reinterprets it: “The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted” (T.6.I.4:6). Christianity teaches that God’s innocent Son, Jesus, died to atone for the sins of humanity, and thus reopened the gates of Heaven that were shut when Adam and Eve committed the original sin. The Course teaches that the gates of Heaven were never shut, and there is no sin. God’s one Son is made up of the entire Sonship, including Jesus (not exclusively Jesus). This one Son cannot be harmed, cannot suffer, and cannot die. All this is true, according to the Course, because the separation never happened, and the world and the body are not real. The events that occurred in the life of the historical Jesus have been interpreted by those who wrote down the Gospels, and by the leaders of religious institutions in accord with their belief system. We who identify with our bodies and believe in suffering and death bring these beliefs to our view of the crucifixion of Jesus. We assume that what would be true for us, if we were crucified, was true for him — that he felt betrayed and victimized, suffered agony, and died. Since Jesus did not identify with the body, and knew his true identity as a Son of God, this was not his experience of the crucifixion.
The Course teaches that true healing is of the mind, and only of the mind. This is accomplished through forgiveness, and leads to the undoing of the belief in the separation. This healing will result in peace, and may or may not have any manifestation in form. If true healing of this nature occurs, whatever happens in form is irrelevant. The mind that chooses to believe in the separation and the reality of the body can also choose to make the body sick. The Course is teaching us that another choice is also possible — the mind can choose against sickness. When a person seeks help in healing from a faith healer and the body is healed, it is because a choice for healing was made in the mind. The person then joins with the faith healer in the shared purpose of healing. This is true even when no physical contact occurs (M.5.II.2,3,4;III.1,2). The choice in the mind of the individual is the only explanation for any healing that occurs. The ultimate healing is awakening from the dream of separation, which is accomplished by undoing our belief in separation. Nothing really happens except that we will no longer be asleep, and will know ourselves in our true identity as God’s one Son. This is what is referred to when the Course says: “Healing does not come directly from God, Who knows His creations as perfectly whole. Yet healing is still of God, because it proceeds from His Voice and from His laws” (T.7.IV.1:4,5). What proceeds from His Voice and from His laws is the truth of who we are. It is healing in the sense that the mind will no longer be made sick or insane by the thought of separation.
Q #220: I was taught that Jesus had to die for us to be forgiven for our sins. That never made any sense to me. If God is just, why would he make an innocent man die in order to forgive me? Why couldn’t he just forgive us in the first place? What does A Course in Miracles say about this?
A: The Course reinterprets the crucifixion, as well as the idea of sin and forgiveness. You were taught the meaning of the crucifixion that Christianity holds sacred, as were all Christians. It is the story of redemption according to Christianity. The message the Course teaches is not based on the forgiveness of sin, to the contrary: “…the content of the course never changes. Its central theme is always, ‘God’s Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation.’”(M.1.3:4,5). There is no need for forgiveness from God, much less for redemption through crucifixion. Forgiveness, as taught by the Course, is a process of undoing the belief in separation. It is the means by which we learn to no longer identify with the ego, which eventually leads to our awakening from the dream of separation. It has nothing to do with sin, because as the Course tells us, there is no sin: “God’s Will for you is perfect happiness because there is no sin, and suffering is causeless” (W.101.6:1). Since the thought of separation is an illusion, and God knows only our wholeness as His one Son, He would not “make an innocent man die in order to forgive” anyone. He would be a cruel God indeed if He required the death of His Son to appease His anger. The Course tells us that not only does God not require crucifixion or sacrifice, He does not even judge His Son: “God does not judge His guiltless Son. Having given Himself to him, how could it be otherwise?” (T.11.VI.7:6,7). Clearly it is not possible to follow the thought systems of both Christianity and A Course in Miracles, for they are not compatible, nor comparable teachings. It may be helpful for you to read the sections “The Message of the Crucifixion” (T.6.I) and “Atonement without Sacrifice” (T.3.I) for the Course’s teaching on the crucifixion and innocence.