ACIM Text Reading for October 6
Manual for Teachers
III. What Are the Levels of Teaching?
The teachers of God have no set teaching level. Each teaching-learning situation involves a different relationship at the beginning, although the ultimate goal is always the same; to make of the relationship a holy relationship, in which both can look upon the Son of God as sinless. There is no one from whom a teacher of God cannot learn, so there is no one whom he cannot teach. However, from a practical point of view he cannot meet everyone, nor can everyone find him. Therefore, the plan includes very specific contacts to be made for each teacher of God. There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship. They are ready for each other.
The simplest level of teaching appears to be quite superficial. It consists of what seem to be very casual encounters; a “chance” meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult “by chance,” two students “happening” to walk home together. These are not chance encounters. Each of them has the potential for becoming a teaching-learning situation. Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another, perhaps the adult will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment. That moment will be enough. Salvation has come.
It is difficult to understand that levels of teaching the universal course is a concept as meaningless in reality as is time. The illusion of one permits the illusion of the other. In time, the teacher of God seems to begin to change his mind about the world with a single decision, and then learns more and more about the new direction as he teaches it. We have covered the illusion of time already, but the illusion of levels of teaching seems to be something different. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate that these levels cannot exist is simply to say that any level of the teaching-learning situation is part of God’s plan for Atonement, and His plan can have no levels, being a reflection of His Will. Salvation is always ready and always there. God’s teachers work at different levels, but the result is always the same.
Each teaching-learning situation is maximal in the sense that each person involved will learn the most that he can from the other person at that time. In this sense, and in this sense only, we can speak of levels of teaching. Using the term in this way, the second level of teaching is a more sustained relationship, in which, for a time, two people enter into a fairly intense teaching-learning situation and then appear to separate. As with the first level, these meetings are not accidental, nor is what appears to be the end of the relationship a real end. Again, each has learned the most he can at the time. Yet all who meet will someday meet again, for it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy. God is not mistaken in His Son.
The third level of teaching occurs in relationships which, once they are formed, are lifelong. These are teaching-learning situations in which each person is given a chosen learning partner who presents him with unlimited opportunities for learning. These relationships are generally few, because their existence implies that those involved have reached a stage simultaneously in which the teaching-learning balance is actually perfect. This does not mean that they necessarily recognize this; in fact, they generally do not. They may even be quite hostile to each other for some time, and perhaps for life. Yet should they decide to learn it, the perfect lesson is before them and can be learned. And if they decide to learn that lesson, they become the saviors of the teachers who falter and may even seem to fail. No teacher of God can fail to find the Help he needs.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 6
If I am bound, my Father is not free.
If I accept that I am prisoner within a body, in a world in which all things that seem to live appear to die, then is my Father prisoner with me. And this do I believe, when I maintain the laws the world obeys must I obey; the frailties and the sins which I perceive are real, and cannot be escaped. If I am bound in any way, I do not know my Father nor my Self. And I am lost to all reality. For truth is free, and what is bound is not a part of truth.
Father, I ask for nothing but the truth. I have had many foolish thoughts about myself and my creation, and have brought a dream of fear into my mind. Today, I would not dream. I choose the way to You instead of madness and instead of fear. For truth is safe, and only love is sure.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #774: I understand that the basic goal of A Course in Miracles is to reorient perception, and from there, experience. However, while I can get a handle on this intellectually, I feel like I’m emotionally handicapped on this one. There are a number of things from my past which are still present in my mind, causing me severe bouts of depression at times, and I have a great deal of trouble releasing them. How can I let go of them? Do I simply “not think about them” anymore? Do I ignore them as “non-existent”? Every so often, these issues seem to pop back up, and I seem unable to recondition my own responses. They are making me extremely tired, and they have unpleasant effects in my relationships. Help!!!
A: Bringing purpose into the picture is important for understanding what is happening. Jesus tells us, “The memory of God comes to the quiet mind. It cannot come where there is conflict, for a mind at war against itself remembers not eternal gentleness” (T.23.I.1:1,2) . Part of us wants to remember our true Identity in God, and part of is terrified of letting go of our false identity so that we would remember the truth. That fear causes us to do things that would prevent our minds from being quiet, as Jesus indicates in the quote. These are our defenses, and we all have a grab bag full of them that we pull out the instant this fear arises to threaten us. One very effective defense is to recall painful events from the past — this is a “favorite” of many students. (How curious that we would resort to something painful to cope with fear!) Recalling the past thus is purposeful, for we then begin to obsess about what happened years ago, as if it were happening right now, and that leaves us with no doubt that we are bodies, the innocent victims of what has been done to us — or we could remember how we cruelly victimized others. We don’t realize that this is a defense that is consciously chosen, as are all defenses — an important dynamic that Jesus describes at the beginning of Lesson 136 (W.pI.136) . He also points out in a thought-provoking section in the text, “The Present Memory,” that“remembering is as selective as perception, being its past tense” (T.28.I.2:5) . Why are only certain events of the past brought into awareness, when so many other things happened as well?
The section in the text called “Shadows of the Past” (T.17.III) is likewise enlightening with respect to how the ego uses the past to reinforce in our minds our belief that we are separate. Elsewhere in the text Jesus teaches us about the ego’s use of time in contrast to the Holy Spirit’s. For the ego, time “is nothing but a teaching device for compounding guilt until it becomes all- encompassing, demanding vengeance forever. The Holy Spirit would undo all of this now . Fear is not of the present, but only of the past and future, which do not exist” (T.15.I.7:7; 8:1,2). The context of the discussion is the ego’s ferocious need to keep alive its doctrine of sin, guilt, damnation, and hell. Linear time was devised by the ego for this purpose. The Holy Spirit, however, uses time to teach us how to learn only from Him so that we would have “no cares, no worries, no anxieties, but merely to be perfectly calm and quiet all the time” (T.15.I.1:1) .
Once you realize the purpose of recalling the past, you can simply look at that and then dwell more on the purpose of these recollections, than on the past hurts. When you no longer want the purpose served by your remembrance of these hurts in the present, they will be easier to let go. But you never want to try to convince yourself that something is non-existent when it is still causing you pain. That will only worsen the situation. “ Do not fight yourself ,” Jesus emphasizes (T.30.I.1:7) . It is fine to have defenses. They are not the problem; the problem is our thinking that we need them. But that takes years of practice to undo, along with patience and gentleness with yourself: “ Defenses, like everything you made, must be gently turned to your own good, translated by the Holy Spirit from means of self-destruction to means of preservation and release” (T.14.VII.5:8) .
Finally, it is sometimes a good idea to seek help from a therapist when events from the past are so painful and compelling that you are unable to function well. This would be no different from getting medical help for an ankle injury that prevents you from walking.
Q #1084: In the manual for teachers of A Course in Miracles , Jesus talks about the three levels of relationships that are used by the Holy Spirit for teaching and learning purposes (“What Are the Levels of Teaching?” [M.3]). I have found myself lately trying to figure out where my different relationships fit into the three levels described in that section. Is it possible that our relationships may not fit neatly into any of the three levels and can be a combination of two possibly? I am so interested in this because a part of me loves the fact that everything is systematic and planned and I feel a need to try to figure this all out.
A: Yes, some relationships can span two levels. That would not be uncommon. But in the end this does not matter, because “each teaching-learning situation is maximal in the sense that each person involved will learn the most that he can from the other person at that time” (M.3.4:1) . As in other parts of the Course, Jesus here is teaching us to avoid thinking with the ego that there is a hierarchy of illusions, in this context that some relationships are more important than others. The mind is outside time and space where there is no gradation or ranking. This means that at any given moment the entirety of the ego’s thought system can be activated, as can the entirety of the Holy Spirit’s — whether on the freeway, at the supermarket checkout counter, or with a person you live or work with. The lack of difference is what is important. There is only one content: either the ego’s separate interests, or the Holy Spirit’s shared interests that reflect the One Level of God’s Will. There is nothing else. Your attraction to figuring everything out and fitting relationships into neat compartments could very well be a means your ego is using to keep you focused on form instead content. Jesus wants us to learn and practice that the content is always the same, regardless of the form.
Q #250: In Kenneth Wapnick’s book Forgiveness & Jesus, he says on page xv in the Preface: “Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not operate in the world, and certainly do not send people as if they were operating a giant chess board, moving us around according to the evolution of the plan of salvation.” However, the manual for teachers of A Course in Miracles says: “There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship” (M.3.1:6,7); and then later it says, “Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God’s plan” (M.9.1:3). This indicates that meeting certain people is part of God’s plan, and as I have understood the Course, the Holy Spirit is operating in the illusion to help us, just as the Course is made within the framework of the illusion. Meetings are part of God’s plan — there are no accidents — so how can this be interpreted?
A: There are no accidents because everything has already happened, and we are simply reviewing mentally what has already gone by: “The script is written.…we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.4:3,5). In “The Little Hindrance” Jesus tells us: “To you who still believe you live in time and know not it is gone, the Holy Spirit still guides you through the infinitely small and senseless maze you still perceive in time, though it has long since gone. You think you live in what is past” (T.26.V.4:1,2). So people are in our lives only because that is what our scripts involve. We have no recollection of our having written these scripts (a metaphor, of course), which is part of the ego’s strategy to keep us from remembering that we are decision-making minds. You might wish to consult Kenneth’s A Vast Illusion: Time According to “A Course in Miracles,” which is an in-depth study of this intriguing part of the Course’s theory.
We are inclined to view what the Course says from our perspective, which is that the world and linear time are real. And that is why we would think that the Holy Spirit and Jesus actually do things, such as direct us to specific people so that we can learn our lessons of forgiveness. But that could not be, since there is no world, and time is not real, either. It is helpful to review the levels of language in the Course, and why Jesus speaks to us as if our experience in the world and linear time were real. Earlier answers to questions have developed these topics, and we refer you to them for further study: Questions #72 and #116.