ACIM Text Reading for October 11
Manual for Teachers
VIII. How Can Perception of Order of Difficulties Be Avoided?
The belief in order of difficulties is the basis for the world’s perception. It rests on differences; on uneven background and shifting foreground, on unequal heights and diverse sizes, on varying degrees of darkness and light, and thousands of contrasts in which each thing seen competes with every other in order to be recognized. A larger object overshadows a smaller one. A brighter thing draws the attention from another with less intensity of appeal. And a more threatening idea, or one conceived of as more desirable by the world’s standards, completely upsets the mental balance. What the body’s eyes behold is only conflict. Look not to them for peace and understanding.
Illusions are always illusions of differences. How could it be otherwise? By definition, an illusion is an attempt to make something real that is regarded as of major importance, but is recognized as being untrue. The mind therefore seeks to make it true out of its intensity of desire to have it for itself. Illusions are travesties of creation; attempts to bring truth to lies. Finding truth unacceptable, the mind revolts against truth and gives itself an illusion of victory. Finding health a burden, it retreats into feverish dreams. And in these dreams the mind is separate, different from other minds, with different interests of its own, and able to gratify its needs at the expense of others.
Where do all these differences come from? Certainly they seem to be in the world outside. Yet it is surely the mind that judges what the eyes behold. It is the mind that interprets the eyes’ messages and gives them “meaning.” And this meaning does not exist in the world outside at all. What is seen as “reality” is simply what the mind prefers. Its hierarchy of values is projected outward, and it sends the body’s eyes to find it. The body’s eyes will never see except through differences. Yet it is not the messages they bring on which perception rests. Only the mind evaluates their messages, and so only the mind is responsible for seeing. It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful.
It is in the sorting out and categorizing activities of the mind that errors in perception enter. And it is here correction must be made. The mind classifies what the body’s eyes bring to it according to its preconceived values, judging where each sense datum fits best. What basis could be faultier than this? Unrecognized by itself, it has itself asked to be given what will fit into these categories. And having done so, it concludes that the categories must be true. On this the judgment of all differences rests, because it is on this that judgments of the world depend. Can this confused and senseless “reasoning” be depended on for anything?
There can be no order of difficulty in healing merely because all sickness is illusion. Is it harder to dispel the belief of the insane in a larger hallucination as opposed to a smaller one? Will he agree more quickly to the unreality of a louder voice he hears than to that of a softer one? Will he dismiss more easily a whispered demand to kill than a shout? And do the number of pitchforks the devils he sees carrying affect their credibility in his perception? His mind has categorized them all as real, and so they are all real to him. When he realizes they are all illusions they will disappear. And so it is with healing. The properties of illusions which seem to make them different are really irrelevant, for their properties are as illusory as they are.
The body’s eyes will continue to see differences. But the mind that has let itself be healed will no longer acknowledge them. There will be those who seem to be “sicker” than others, and the body’s eyes will report their changed appearances as before. But the healed mind will put them all in one category; they are unreal. This is the gift of its Teacher; the understanding that only two categories are meaningful in sorting out the messages the mind receives from what appears to be the outside world. And of these two, but one is real. Just as reality is wholly real, apart from size and shape and time and place–for differences cannot exist within it–so too are illusions without distinctions. The one answer to sickness of any kind is healing. The one answer to all illusions is truth.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 11
My true Identity abides in You.
Father, I made an image of myself, and it is this I call the Son of God. Yet is creation as it always was, for Your creation is unchangeable. Let me not worship idols. I am he my Father loves. My holiness remains the light of Heaven and the Love of God. Is not what is beloved of You secure? Is not the light of Heaven infinite? Is not Your Son my true Identity, when You created everything that is?
Now are we One in shared Identity, with God our Father as our only Source, and everything created part of us. And so we offer blessing to all things, uniting lovingly with all the world, which our forgiveness has made one with us.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1145: Is there any specific meaning in the use of the figure “5”, “50” etc. within A Course in Miracles , in particular in the workbook? Certain Christian/gnostic sects and similar organizations are said to have used certain symbols, as perhaps the pentagram as the symbol of Christ. I found it interesting that the “centre of our being,” the holy instant is also sitting comfortably at the centre of the 31 chapters of the textbook and, 1+5=6, perhaps secretly alluding to the “inner Christ” or Son of God anyway (the figure 6 as symbolized by Tiphareth/Son of God in the kabbala)? Is there any “reason” behind the structure of the workbook, certain lessons building up on each other in a certain “symphonic” way? Could A Course in Miracles , as a whole, perhaps be regarded as “holographic” in structure and content?
A: As far as we are aware, there is no special meaning in the numbering and symbols used in the Course. It is written in such a way, however, that one could find all kinds of things along the lines you mention. That was never anything that Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford related to, though; and we at the Foundation do not either.
The structure of A Course in Miracles can quite easily fit into the symphonic or holographic model. Kenneth often speaks of this, and has described it explicitly and at length in his introduction to the series of classes he gave on each of the three books of the Course. In introducing his classes on the manual for teachers, for example, he states: “My presentation on the text . . . followed a musical format, taking not only Jesus as my inspiration, obviously, but Beethoven as well. Our journey was like a symphony within a symphony, each lecture built around the various themes of the text’s thirty-one chapters, which reflected the symphonic nature of the text itself. Although the form is slightly different, I have done the same thing in these lectures on the manual for teachers, using music as the inspiration for their structure, and, again, Beethoven as the model, specifically the third movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. . . . As I thought about the structure for these classes, this movement came to mind because the manual itself is organized around two themes and variations of these two themes, specifically the first.”
The holographic model can be recognized in the fact that if we understood completely any one statement of the Course, we would understand the Course’s message in its entirety. If we completely understood the first miracle principle — that there is no order of difficulty among miracles — there would be no need to read or study anything further in the Course. The same could be said of the very first lesson, or any other lesson. But because of the intense fear in our minds, Jesus leads us gradually. He told Helen and Bill to study the “notes,” so that they would be prepared for what was to follow — a message that is included, in part, near the end of Chapter 1 of the text (T.1.VII.4) . The early lessons in the workbook initiate a process of mind training, and they incorporate a certain amount of structure and discipline that will not be needed in later stages of the process. The Introduction to the workbook discusses this dimension of the Course. The workbook is carefully and intentionally structured to achieve maximum results, given the state of our minds’ beliefs and fears.
Q #1146: This is about lucid dreaming, the ability to realize while dreaming that everything that is happening is only a dream. Then you can control your dream and your dream stops controlling you. I´ve been experiencing this phenomenon and I’ve learned to produce it at will. How can this kind of dream help me with A Course in Miracles and the Holy Spirit’s purpose?
A: It can be very helpful. A primary objective of Jesus’ mind-training program is to help us become lucid dreamers, which means becoming aware that what appears to us as real is not real – – we are just dreaming of ourselves as individuals in a physical world: “You are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality” (T.10.I.2:1). Jesus is not referring to our dreams at night, but to our experiences in our daily lives. Yet, he also tells us these are not different states in terms of their content: “All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it” (T.18.II.5:12,13,14,15).
Being a lucid dreamer, you probably can relate very much to Jesus’ discussions of dreaming. It is a major theme in the Course, but there are several sections that focus specifically on the nature and purpose of the dream: four sections in Chapter 18 ( T.18.I,II,III,V) and two in Chapter 27 ( T.27.VII,VIII). Purpose is the key word, and that is where our work as students is centered. Are we upholding the ego’s purpose in our lives or the Holy Spirit’s purpose? The ego wants us to stay asleep and to continue to dream, without ever realizing that that is what our lives amount to. The Holy Spirit wants us to realize that we are merely dreaming that we are separate; it is not the truth. Jesus thus says of the miracle that it“does not awaken you, but merely shows you who the dreamer is. . . . The miracle establishes you dream a dream and its content is not true” (T.28.II.4:2;7:1) .
We can begin the process of awakening by accepting the Holy Spirit’s purpose of learning to see each other as sharing a common interest — that we are all in pain for having left our loving home in Heaven, and we are all desperately hoping there is a way back that does not involve eternal punishment. The Holy Spirit thus represents the Atonement principle, the fulfillment of our hope that what awaits us is only love, for we never truly left. This is the dream Jesus refers to that precedes our final awakening, “a gentler dream, in which his suffering was healed and where his brother was his friend . . .” (T.27.VII.13:4) .