ACIM Text Reading for April 5
Chapter 12 ~ THE HOLY SPIRIT’S CURRICULUM
I. The Judgement of the Holy Spirit
You have been told not to make error real, and the way to do this is very simple. If you want to believe in error, you would have to make it real because it is not true. But truth is real in its own right, and to believe in truth you do not have to do anything. Understand that you do not respond to anything directly, but to your interpretation of it. Your interpretation thus becomes the justification for the response. That is why analysing the motives of others is hazardous to you. If you decide that someone is really trying to attack you or desert you or enslave you, you will respond as if he had actually done so, having made his error real to you. To interpret error is to give it power, and having done this you will overlook truth.
The analysis of ego-motivation is very complicated, very obscuring, and never without your own ego-involvement. The whole process represents a clear-cut attempt to demonstrate your own ability to understand what you perceive. This is shown by the fact that you react to your interpretations as if they were correct. You may then control your reactions behaviourally, but not emotionally. This would obviously be a split or an attack on the integrity of your mind, pitting one level within it against another.
There is but one interpretation of motivation that makes any sense. And because it is the Holy Spirit’s judgement it requires no effort at all on your part. Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes. Can anyone be justified in responding with anger to a brother’s plea for help? No response can be appropriate except the willingness to give it to him, for this and only this is what he is asking for. Offer him anything else, and you are assuming the right to attack his reality by interpreting it as you see fit. Perhaps the danger of this to your own mind is not yet fully apparent. If you believe that an appeal for help is something else you will react to something else. Your response will therefore be inappropriate to reality as it is, but not to your perception of it.
There is nothing to prevent you from recognising all calls for help as exactly what they are except your own imagined need to attack. It is only this that makes you willing to engage in endless ‘battles’ with reality, in which you deny the reality of the need for healing by making it unreal. You would not do this except for your unwillingness to accept reality as it is, and which you therefore withhold from yourself.
It is surely good advice to tell you not to judge what you do not understand. No one with a personal investment is a reliable witness, for truth to him has become what he wants it to be. If you are unwilling to perceive an appeal for help as what it is, it is because you are unwilling to give help and to receive it. To fail to recognise a call for help is to refuse help. Would you maintain that you do not need it? Yet this is what you are maintaining when you refuse to recognise a brother’s appeal, for only by answering his appeal can you be helped. Deny him your help and you will not recognise God’s Answer to you. The Holy Spirit does not need your help in interpreting motivation, but you do need His.
Only appreciation is an appropriate response to your brother. Gratitude is due him for both his loving thoughts and his appeals for help, for both are capable of bringing love into your awareness if you perceive them truly. And all your sense of strain comes from your attempts not to do just this. How simple, then, is God’s plan for salvation. There is but one response to reality, for reality evokes no conflict at all. There is but one Teacher of reality, Who understands what it is. He does not change His Mind about reality because reality does not change. Although your interpretations of reality are meaningless in your divided state, His remain consistently true. He gives them to you because they are for you. Do not attempt to ‘help’ a brother in your way, for you cannot help yourself. But hear his call for the Help of God, and you will recognise your own need for the Father.
Your interpretations of your brother’s needs are your interpretation of yours. By giving help you are asking for it, and if you perceive but one need in yourself you will be healed. For you will recognise God’s Answer as you want It to be, and if you want It in truth, It will be truly yours. Every appeal you answer in the Name of Christ brings the remembrance of your Father closer to your awareness. For the sake of your need, then, hear every call for help as what it is, so God can answer you.
By applying the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the reactions of others more and more consistently, you will gain an increasing awareness that His criteria are equally applicable to you. For to recognise fear is not enough to escape from it, although the recognition is necessary to demonstrate the need for escape. The Holy Spirit must still translate the fear into truth. If you were left with the fear, once you had recognised it, you would have taken a step away from reality, not towards it. Yet we have repeatedly emphasised the need to recognise fear and face it without disguise as a crucial step in the undoing of the ego. Consider how well the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the motives of others will serve you then. Having taught you to accept only loving thoughts in others and to regard everything else as an appeal for help, He has taught you that fear itself is an appeal for help. This is what recognising fear really means. If you do not protect it, He will reinterpret it. That is the ultimate value in learning to perceive attack as a call for love. We have already learned that fear and attack are inevitably associated. If only attack produces fear, and if you see attack as the call for help that it is, the unreality of fear must dawn on you. For fear is a call for love, in unconscious recognition of what has been denied.
Fear is a symptom of your own deep sense of loss. If when you perceive it in others you learn to supply the loss, the basic cause of fear is removed. Thereby you teach yourself that fear does not exist in you. The means for removing it is in yourself, and you have demonstrated this by giving it. Fear and love are the only emotions of which you are capable. One is false, for it was made out of denial; and denial depends on the belief in what is denied for its own existence. By interpreting fear correctly as a positive affirmation of the underlying belief it masks, you are undermining its perceived usefulness by rendering it useless. Defences that do not work at all are automatically discarded. If you raise what fear conceals to clear-cut unequivocal predominance, fear becomes meaningless. You have denied its power to conceal love, which was its only purpose. The veil that you have drawn across the face of love has disappeared.
If you would look upon love, which is the world’s reality, how could you do better than to recognise, in every defence against it, the underlying appeal for it? And how could you better learn of its reality than by answering the appeal for it by giving it? The Holy Spirit’s interpretation of fear does dispel it, for the awareness of truth cannot be denied. Thus does the Holy Spirit replace fear with love and translate error into truth. And thus will you learn of Him how to replace your dream of separation with the fact of unity. For the separation is only the denial of union, and correctly interpreted, attests to your eternal knowledge that union is true.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 5
I am one Self, united with my Creator.
Today’s idea accurately describes you as God created you. You are one within yourself, and one with Him. Yours is the unity of all creation. Your perfect unity makes change in you impossible. You do not accept this, and you fail to realize it must be so, only because you believe that you have changed yourself already.
You see yourself as a ridiculous parody on God’s creation; weak, vicious, ugly and sinful, miserable and beset with pain. Such is your version of yourself; a self divided into many warring parts, separate from God, and tenuously held together by its erratic and capricious maker, to which you pray. It does not hear your prayers, for it is deaf. It does not see the oneness in you, for it is blind. It does not understand you are the Son of God, for it is senseless and understands nothing.
We will attempt today to be aware only of what can hear and see, and what makes perfect sense. We will again direct our exercises towards reaching your one Self, which is united with Its Creator. In patience and in hope we try again today.
The use of the first five minutes of every waking hour for practicing the idea for the day has special advantages at the stage of learning in which you are at present. It is difficult at this point not to allow your mind to wander, if it undertakes extended practice. You have surely realized this by now. You have seen the extent of your lack of mental discipline, and of your need for mind training. It is necessary that you be aware of this, for it is indeed a hindrance to your advance.
Frequent but shorter practice periods have other advantages for you at this time. In addition to recognizing your difficulties with sustained attention, you must also have noticed that, unless you are reminded of your purpose frequently, you tend to forget about it for long periods of time. You often fail to remember the short applications of the idea for the day, and you have not yet formed the habit of using the idea as an automatic response to temptation.
Structure, then, is necessary for you at this time, planned to include frequent reminders of your goal and regular attempts to reach it. Regularity in terms of time is not the ideal requirement for the most beneficial form of practice in salvation. It is advantageous, however, for those whose motivation is inconsistent, and who remain heavily defended against learning.
We will, therefore, keep to the five-minutes-an-hour practice periods for a while, and urge you to omit as few as possible. Using the first five minutes of the hour will be particularly helpful, since it imposes firmer structure. Do not, however, use your lapses from this schedule as an excuse not to return to it again as soon as you can. There may well be a temptation to regard the day as lost because you have already failed to do what is required. This should, however, merely be recognized as what it is; a refusal to let your mistake be corrected, and an unwillingness to try again.
The Holy Spirit is not delayed in His teaching by your mistakes. He can be held back only by your unwillingness to let them go. Let us therefore be determined, particularly for the next week or so, to be willing to forgive ourselves for our lapses in diligence, and our failures to follow the instructions for practicing the day’s idea. This tolerance for weakness will enable us to overlook it, rather than give it power to delay our learning. If we give it power to do this, we are regarding it as strength, and are confusing strength with weakness.
When you fail to comply with the requirements of this course, you have merely made a mistake. This calls for correction, and for nothing else. To allow a mistake to continue is to make additional mistakes, based on the first and reinforcing it. It is this process that must be laid aside, for it is but another way in which you would defend illusions against the truth.
Let all these errors go by recognizing them for what they are. They are attempts to keep you unaware you are one Self, united with your Creator, at one with every aspect of creation, and limitless in power and in peace. This is the truth, and nothing else is true. Today we will affirm this truth again, and try to reach the place in you in which there is no doubt that only this is true.
Begin the practice periods today with this assurance, offered to your mind with all the certainty that you can give:
I am one Self, united with my Creator, at one with every
aspect of creation, and limitless in power and in peace.
Then close your eyes and tell yourself again, slowly and thoughtfully, attempting to allow the meaning of the words to sink into your mind, replacing false ideas:
I am one Self.
Repeat this several times, and then attempt to feel the meaning that the words convey.
You are one Self, united and secure in light and joy and peace. You are God’s Son, one Self, with one Creator and one goal; to bring awareness of this oneness to all minds, that true creation may extend the allness and the unity of God. You are one Self, complete and healed and whole, with power to lift the veil of darkness from the world, and let the light in you come through to teach the world the truth about yourself.
You are one Self, in perfect harmony with all there is, and all that there will be. You are one Self, the holy Son of God, united with your brothers in that Self; united with your Father in His Will. Feel this one Self in you, and let It shine away all your illusions and your doubts. This is your Self, the Son of God Himself, sinless as Its Creator, with His strength within you and His Love forever yours. You are one Self, and it is given you to feel this Self within you, and to cast all your illusions out of the one Mind that is this Self, the holy truth in you.
Do not forget today. We need your help; your little part in bringing happiness to all the world. And Heaven looks to you in confidence that you will try today. Share, then, its surety, for it is yours. Be vigilant. Do not forget today. Throughout the day do not forget your goal. Repeat today’s idea as frequently as possible, and understand each time you do so, someone hears the voice of hope, the stirring of the truth within his mind, the gentle rustling of the wings of peace.
Your own acknowledgment you are one Self, united with your Father, is a call to all the world to be at one with you. To everyone you meet today, be sure to give the promise of today’s idea and tell him this:
You are one Self with me, united with our Creator in this Self.
I honor you because of What I am, and What He is,
Who loves us both as One.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #982: I try to listen to the Holy Spirit all the time, and especially to ask Him to speak through me when I’m talking to others. I am often amazed at the gentle, encouraging words that come out of my mouth. I attribute this to just being willing to let Christ talk for me, not to any special abilities of my own. But last week, while I was talking to a new thought minister, something happened that bothered me. I told him that instead of encouraging his flock to listen to God for themselves, he tries to keep them dependent on him and to make them believe that they have to go through him to reach God. I spoke very authoritatively to him. Then, afterwards, I quickly apologized and ran out. This is bothering me because I wasn’t teaching love. I barely knew this man! I did open up to spirit before speaking with him, so why would something so harsh come out? I guess I must have been projecting in some way, for some reason. Please give me your insight.
A: First, we need to be clear that we cannot necessarily judge whether or not we are teaching love by the words we say. Jesus tells us in A Course in Miracles that what we hear when we listen to the Holy Spirit “may indeed be quite startling” (M.21.5: 2). Thus, it is possible that our words could sound harsh or even outlandish, but still be motivated by an underlying intention to be loving and helpful. So, with nothing but a description of external events to go on, we could not say whether you were in fact being unkind to that man.
You are correct that whenever we say, feel, or think anything that is not an extension of love, we are projecting. If that is indeed what you were doing in that instant, we could only guess the reasons why. Without knowing more about you, we could only speculate why you might have been triggered at that specific moment, by that particular individual. But it might be helpful to ponder the following statement from the Course: “projection, occurs when you believe that some emptiness or lack exists in you, and that you can fill it with your own ideas instead of truth” ( T.2.I.1:7 ).
In other words, if you were attacking him, the chances are that he reminded you of something of which you accuse yourself. (This does not necessarily mean that you accuse yourself of exactly what you reprimanded him for, though this could be the case.) Then, before that guilt came to consciousness, your ego jumped in and said, “Ah, I know how to get rid of this guilt. I’ll focus instead on what he is doing wrong.” As the Course says, “Projection makes perception… you attacked your brother, because you saw in him a shadow figure in your private world [your mind] . And thus it is you must attack yourself first, for what you attack is not in others. Its only reality is in your own mind…”( T.13.V.3:5,6,7,8 ).
If guilt led to the incident in the first place, rather than continuing to feel guilty about it, it would be more helpful to instead use it as a valuable source of information. Because “What is not love is always fear, and nothing else” ( T.15.X.4:5 ), you could recognize that, despite your frequently successful attempts to connect with the Holy Spirit’s Love, part of your mind is still fearful. In fact, as long as we retain any belief in the reality of this world and our individual existence within it, a part of our mind will remain afraid. It is only at the very end of our spiritual journey that we will be entirely guilt free and consistently filled with love. Until then, it is virtually inevitable that we will have both right-minded moments in which we extend love, and wrong-minded moments in which we project guilt.
The fact that you recognize that you may have projected guilt, and have a sincere desire not to do so, is very helpful. At this point, you could simply stop right there and ask the Holy Spirit to help you look at the incident you described (and any future situations which trigger your guilt) through His compassionate, non-judgmental eyes — allowing Him to give the same gentle encouragement to you that you have felt Him help you direct toward others.