ACIM Supplemental Reading for November 13
Song of Prayer
III. Praying for Others
S-1.III.1. We said that prayer is always for yourself, and this is so. 2 Why, then, should you pray for others at all? 3 And if you should, how should you do it? 4 Praying for others, if rightly understood, becomes a means for lifting your projections of guilt from your brother, and enabling you to recognize it is not he who is hurting you. 5 The poisonous thought that he is your enemy, your evil counterpart, your nemesis, must be relinquished before you can be saved from guilt. 6 For this the means is prayer, of rising power and with ascending goals, until it reaches even up to God.
S-1.III.2. The earlier forms of prayer, at the bottom of the ladder, will not be free from envy and malice. 2 They call for vengeance, not for love. 3 Nor do they come from one who understands that they are calls for death, made out of fear by those who cherish guilt. 4 They call upon a vengeful god, and it is he who seems to answer them. 5 Hell cannot be asked for another, and then escaped by him who asks for it. 6 Only those who are in hell can ask for hell. 7 Those who have been forgiven, and who accepted their forgiveness, could never make a prayer like that.
S-1.III.3. At these levels, then, the learning goal must be to recognize that prayer will bring an answer only in the form in which the prayer was made. 2 This is enough. 3 From here it will be an easy step to the next levels. 4 The next ascent begins with this:
5 What I have asked for for my brother is not what I would have. 6 Thus have I made of him my enemy.
7 It is apparent that this step cannot be reached by anyone who sees no value or advantage to himself in setting others free. 8 This may be long delayed, because it may seem to be dangerous instead of merciful. 9 To the guilty there seems indeed to be a real advantage in having enemies, and this imagined gain must go, if enemies are to be set free.
S-1.III.4. Guilt must be given up, and not concealed. 2 Nor can this be done without some pain, and a glimpse of the merciful nature of this step may for some time be followed by a deep retreat into fear. 3 For fear’s defenses are fearful in themselves, and when they are recognized they bring their fear with them. 4 Yet what advantage has an illusion of escape ever brought a prisoner? 5 His real escape from guilt can lie only in the recognition that the guilt has gone. 6 And how can this be recognized as long as he hides it in another, and does not see it as his own? 7 Fear of escape makes it difficult to welcome freedom, and to make a jailer of an enemy seems to be safety. 8 How, then, can he be released without an insane fear for yourself? 9 You have made of him your salvation and your escape from guilt. 10 Your investment in this escape is heavy, and your fear of letting it go is strong.
S-1.III.5. Stand still an instant, now, and think what you have done. 2 Do not forget that it is you who did it, and who can therefore let it go. 3 Hold out your hand. 4 This enemy has come to bless you. 5 Take his blessing, and feel how your heart is lifted and your fear released. 6 Do not hold on to it, nor onto him. 7 He is a Son of God, along with you. 8 He is no jailer, but a messenger of Christ. 9 Be this to him, that you may see him thus.
S-1.III.6. It is not easy to realize that prayers for things, for status, for human love, for external “gifts” of any kind, are always made to set up jailers and to hide from guilt. 2 These things are used for goals that substitute for God, and therefore distort the purpose of prayer. 3 The desire for them is the prayer. 4 One need not ask explicitly. 5 The goal of God is lost in the quest for lesser goals of any kind, and prayer becomes requests for enemies. 6 The power of prayer can be quite clearly recognized even in this. 7 No one who wants an enemy will fail to find one. 8 But just as surely will he lose the only true goal that is given him. 9 Think of the cost, and understand it well. 10 All other goals are at the cost of God.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 13
I see all things as I would have them be.
Perception follows judgment. Having judged, we therefore see what we would look upon. For sight can merely serve to offer us what we would have. It is impossible to overlook what we would see, and fail to see what we have chosen to behold. How surely, therefore, must the real world come to greet the holy sight of anyone who takes the Holy Spirit’s purpose as his goal for seeing. And he cannot fail to look upon what Christ would have him see, and share Christ’s Love for what he looks upon.
I have no purpose for today except to look upon a liberated world, set free from all the judgments I have made. Father, this is Your Will for me today, and therefore it must be my goal as well.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #178: In A Course in Miracles, we are constantly reminded that to dispel the ego we must simply “look” at its machinations without judgment. In other words, with the Holy Spirit or Jesus. It is this process of looking that is a stumbling block for me. Does the Course provide a “mental” formula in the guise of a prayer, phrase or verse that I may employ when I recognize my ego is at work (which is, of course, all the time)?
A: Recognizing your ego is at work is a major component in its undoing, since the ego itself would never allow you to look at its shenanigans. The stumbling block arises because as quickly as you “see” your ego (the right-minded choice), you just as quickly become afraid, and then judge what you have “seen” (the wrong-minded choice). Your fear really then has come from your ability to look with the Holy Spirit’s or Jesus’ nonjudgmental gentleness and patience at your ego thought system, and that is why you run away. So you want to be gentle with yourself over your not being gentle with yourself. Since it has been determined that you have already become afraid, you certainly do not want to make yourself more fearful by punishing yourself for your lack of gentleness. At the end of Chapter 5 in the text is a lovely prayer you may employ whenever you experience this stumbling block:
I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me (T.5.VII.6:7,8,9,10,11).
Q #179: I just recently began studying A Course in Miracles. I would like to incorporate the Course’s teachings into my parenting. I primarily try to guide my children through the natural consequences of their choices, which seems to me the way God teaches us. However, sometimes it seems I must exert my will over theirs for their own best interest. For example: bedtime is bedtime on school nights; or if you have pneumonia and need a shot, there is no other option. In these situations, I am forcing my will on another, which kind of seems like an attack. Do you have any suggestion for parenting in alignment with the Course’s teachings?
A: What will help is to focus always on the purpose of what you do, not so much the behavior;: the contentrather than form. Distinguishing between content and form is essential in applying the Course principles. Second, as students of a spiritual path, we should never lose sight of common sense. Thus parents are parents and children are children; they are not equals. And parents do know better than their children what is best for them.
Exerting your will over your children’s wills is an attack only if you mean it that way. If you are angry, punitive, tyrannical, demeaning, etc., then the content is attack. But if you are simply being firm with undisciplined children, then that is not an attack. It is not at all loving or helpful — as many studies have confirmed — to let children have their own way in everything. They would not grow up as healthy individuals, able to cope in the world, if they had no sense of limit, etc. It is entirely possible to set aside one’s ego needs in order to discipline and train children. Parents’ behavior might appear to be aggressive, behaviorally, when they are simply responding to the child’s aggression in a way that is needed in those circumstances. Thus the behavior itself is not enough to determine what the content is. Obviously, though, if a parent is beating a child into a bloody heap, chances are pretty good that it is an attack.
So the point is to practice discerning in yourself the distinction between form and content. Then bring the ego content to the love of Jesus in your mind and ask for help to shift to his content. When the content in your mind is loving, the message your children will be getting when you discipline them is that they are loved and cared for, and that they can trust you always to take care of them. We teach the principles of the Course to children by demonstrating them in our relationships.