ACIM Text Reading for May 30
Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship
VI. Setting the Goal
The practical application of the Holy Spirit’s purpose is extremely simple, but it is unequivocal. In fact, in order to be simple it must be unequivocal. The simple is merely what is easily understood, and for this it is apparent that it must be clear. The setting of the Holy Spirit’s goal is general. Now He will work with you to make it specific. There are certain very specific guidelines he provides for any situation, but remember that you do not yet realize their universal application. Therefore, it is essential at this point to use them in each situation separately, until you can more safely look beyond each situation, in an understanding far broader than you now possess.
In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is “What do I want to come of this? What is it for?” The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome. In the ego’s procedure this is reversed. The situation becomes the determiner of the outcome, which can be anything. The reason for this disorganized approach is evident. The ego does not know what it wants to come of the situation. It is aware of what it does not want, but only that. It has no positive goal at all.
Without a clear-cut, positive goal, set at the outset, the situation just seems to happen, and makes no sense until it has already happened. Then you look back at it, and try to piece together what it must have meant. And you will be wrong. Not only is your judgment in the past, but you have no idea what should happen. No goal was set with which to bring the means in line. And now the only judgment left to make is whether or not the ego likes it; is it acceptable, or does it call for vengeance? The absence of a criterion for outcome, set in advance, makes understanding doubtful and evaluation impossible.
The value of deciding in advance what you want to happen is simply that you will perceive the situation as a means to make it happen. You will therefore make every effort to overlook what interferes with the accomplishment of your objective, and concentrate on everything that helps you meet it. It is quite noticeable that this approach has brought you closer to the Holy Spirit’s sorting out of truth and falsity. The true becomes what can be used to meet the goal. The false becomes the useless from this point of view. The situation now has meaning, but only because the goal has made it meaningful.
The goal of truth has further practical advantages. If the situation is used for truth and sanity, its outcome must be peace. And this is quite apart from what the outcome is. If peace is the condition of truth and sanity, and cannot be without them, where peace is they must be. Truth comes of itself. If you experience peace, it is because the truth has come to you and you will see the outcome truly, for deception cannot prevail against you. You will recognize the outcome because you are at peace. Here again you see the opposite of the ego’s way of looking, for the ego believes the situation brings the experience. The Holy Spirit knows that the situation is as the goal determines it, and is experienced according to the goal.
The goal of truth requires faith. Faith is implicit in the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and this faith is all-inclusive. Where the goal of truth is set, there faith must be. The Holy Spirit sees the situation as a whole. The goal establishes the fact that everyone involved in it will play his part in its accomplishment. This is inevitable. No one will fail in anything. This seems to ask for faith beyond you, and beyond what you can give. Yet this is so only from the viewpoint of the ego, for the ego believes in “solving” conflict through fragmentation, and does not perceive the situation as a whole. Therefore, it seeks to split off segments of the situation and deal with them separately, for it has faith in separation and not in wholeness.
Confronted with any aspect of the situation that seems to be difficult, the ego will attempt to take this aspect elsewhere, and resolve it there. And it will seem to be successful, except that this attempt conflicts with unity, and must obscure the goal of truth. And peace will not be experienced except in fantasy. Truth has not come because faith has been denied, being withheld from where it rightfully belonged. Thus do you lose the understanding of the situation the goal of truth would bring. For fantasy solutions bring but the illusion of experience, and the illusion of peace is not the condition in which truth can enter.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 30
My mind holds only what I think with God.
(137) When I am healed I am not healed alone.
(138) Heaven is the decision I must make.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #821: I am at a place in life in which I am experiencing overwhelming fear. My husband and I have been married for a few years and together for nine. Over time, the outward dramas have lessened and now that there is a certain sense of outward stability in my marriage, I seem to be assailed on all sides by fears: is this situation one in which I can grow? Am I denying part of myself by staying in this relationship? Do I feel like I would be better off alone, with someone else, or with a woman? All these questions come to mind. More than anything, it seems that I have reached a place where I am now forced to take responsibility for my own thoughts — that I am encountering my shadow side. I want to run. Is there anything in A Course in Miracles that might speak to this level of fear and specific steps to take to deal with it?
A: While we remain closely identified with the ego, it can feel as if we are being forced to take responsibility for our thoughts, as you describe. True, the Course is encouraging us to accept this responsibility as central to progressing on our path of forgiveness. But if there is any sense of coercion, the ego has joined the process in an attempt to subvert and derail it. And that feeling of coercion itself only adds to the anxiety and the fear. So the first step in addressing the fear is to recognize and accept that any sense of pressure is coming only from yourself. And if the overwhelming fear persists, Jesus gently advises, “Do not fight yourself” (T.30.I.1:7) . It is okay to wait until you are ready.
The ego revels in the thought that there is something terrible within that we must force ourselves to examine. For that reinforces the belief that the ego — and the separation — are real. And so, for this reason, when we are ready to look within, Jesus invites us to look with him, for he does not share our horrible evaluation of ourselves and he certainly does not take the ego seriously. One of his clearest invitations to us, which also acknowledges our fear, is found at the beginning of “The ‘Dynamics’ of the Ego,” in which he reminds us that this is something we do together : “No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected. There is no need to shrink from illusions, for they cannot be dangerous. We are ready to look more closely at the ego’s thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realize you do not want it, you must be ready. Let us be very calm in doing this, for we are merely looking honestly for truth. The ‘dynamics’ of the ego will be our lesson for a while, for we must look first at this to see beyond it, since you have made it real. We will undo this error quietly together, and then look beyond it to truth” (T.11.V.1).
You are wise to recognize that the real issue of your fear involves examining your own thoughts, but you also acknowledge having thoughts of running away from your relationship with your husband. Now these thoughts are not surprising if, as you say, you are experiencing less drama and conflict in your external life, which may very well reflect an inner shift away from the ego and towards the peace within that Jesus is offering. And you can be sure the ego is not going to take this change of allegiance lying down. External drama and conflict conveniently serve the ego’s purpose of keeping our focus outward and away from the mind, where the only real hope of finding lasting peace lies. If the ego begins to sense that our present relationship is no longer serving its purpose, it will counsel us to pull up stakes and go in search of someone or something else — anything other than remaining in peace and beginning to look within.
Two passages from the text describe the ambivalence we can experience around this dual process of moving towards the light while at the same time beginning to use that light to look more deeply and eventually beyond the darkness of the ego. The fear that is aroused by approaching the light, as well as the process of looking together with Jesus at the darkness, are aptly described in the following:
“As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror. But you will advance, because your goal is the advance from fear to truth. The goal you accepted is the goal of knowledge, for which you signified your willingness. Fear seems to live in darkness, and when you are afraid you have stepped back. Let us then join quickly in an instant of light, and it will be enough to remind you that your goal is light. (T.18.III.2).
And the fear that is associated with uncovering the ego’s layers of sin and guilt in the mind, as well as the process of recognizing its unreality, is powerfully described in the following:
“The closer you come to the foundation of the ego’s thought system, the darker and more obscure becomes the way. Yet even the little spark in your mind is enough to lighten it. Bring this light fearlessly with you, and bravely hold it up to the foundation of the ego’s thought system. Be willing to judge it with perfect honesty. Open the dark cornerstone of terror on which it rests, and bring it out into the light. There you will see that it rested on meaninglessness, and that everything of which you have been afraid was based on nothing” (T.11.in.3:5,6,7,8,9,10).
Additional readings from the text that may help you get a clearer picture of what the fear is all about and what the process of releasing that fear involves, in the context of our relationship with our brother, joined with Jesus, include “Light in the Dream” (T.18.III) and “The Fear to Look Within” (T.21.IV) .
Q #822: I saw the new movie, “What the Bleep Do You Know?”. I found it very powerfully presented, and I was struck by how much it sounded like A Course in Miracles’ teachings. Please give your comments.
A: There is a strong similarity between the theories presented in the movie and what the Course teaches. Both say the world of matter is a product of thought. The difference, though — and it is a decisive difference — is that A Course in Miracles says the thought itself is illusory ! As far as we know, no physicist has ever taken this step, and probably could not from his stance as a scientist. The integration of this theory that matter is a product of thought with practical living in the world is one of the major contributions of the Course.