ACIM Supplemental Reading for November 27
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice
The Process of Psychotherapy
The Place of Religion in Psychotherapy
To be a teacher of God, it is not necessary to be religious or even to believe in God to any recognizable extent. It is necessary, however, to teach forgiveness rather than condemnation. Even in this, complete consistency is not required, for one who had achieved that point could teach salvation completely, within an instant and without a word. Yet he who has learned all things does not need a teacher, and the healed have no need for a therapist. Relationships are still the temple of the Holy Spirit, and they will be made perfect in time and restored to eternity.
Formal religion has no place in psychotherapy, but it also has no real place in religion. In this world, there is an astonishing tendency to join contradictory words into one term without perceiving the contradiction at all. The attempt to formalize religion is so obviously an ego attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable that it hardly requires elaboration here. Religion is experience; psychotherapy is experience. At the highest levels they become one. Neither is truth itself, but both can lead to truth. What can be necessary to find truth, which remains perfectly obvious, but to remove the seeming obstacles to true awareness?
No one who learns to forgive can fail to remember God. Forgiveness, then, is all that need be taught, because it is all that need be learned. All blocks to the remembrance of God are forms of unforgiveness, and nothing else. This is never apparent to the patient, and only rarely so to the therapist. The world has marshalled all its forces against this one awareness, for in it lies the ending of the world and all it stands for.
Yet it is not the awareness of God that constitutes a reasonable goal for psychotherapy. This will come when psychotherapy is complete, for where there is forgiveness truth must come. It would be unfair indeed if belief in God were necessary to psychotherapeutic success. Nor is belief in God a really meaningful concept, for God can be but known. Belief implies that unbelief is possible, but knowledge of God has no true opposite. Not to know God is to have no knowledge, and it is to this that all unforgiveness leads. And without knowledge one can have only belief.
Different teaching aids appeal to different people. Some forms of religion have nothing to do with God, and some forms of psychotherapy have nothing to do with healing. Yet if pupil and teacher join in sharing one goal, God will enter into their relationship because He has been invited to come in. In the same way, a union of purpose between patient and therapist restores the place of God to ascendance, first through Christ’s vision and then through the memory of God Himself. The process of psychotherapy is the return to sanity. Teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, are all insane or they would not be here. Together they can find a pathway out, for no one will find sanity alone.
If healing is an invitation to God to enter into His Kingdom, what difference does it make how the invitation is written? Does the paper matter, or the ink, or the pen? Or is it he who writes that gives the invitation? God comes to those who would restore His world, for they have found the way to call to Him. If any two are joined, He must be there. It does not matter what their purpose is, but they must share it wholly to succeed. It is impossible to share a goal not blessed by Christ, for what is unseen through His eyes is too fragmented to be meaningful.
As true religion heals, so must true psychotherapy be religious. But both have many forms, because no good teacher uses one approach to every pupil. On the contrary, he listens patiently to each one, and lets him formulate his own curriculum; not the curriculum’s goal, but how he can best reach the aim it sets for him. Perhaps the teacher does not think of God as part of teaching. Perhaps the psychotherapist does not understand that healing comes from God. They can succeed where many who believe they have found God will fail.
What must the teacher do to ensure learning? What must the therapist do to bring healing about? Only one thing; the same requirement salvation asks of everyone. Each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests. Only by doing this is it possible to transcend the narrow boundaries the ego would impose upon the self. Only by doing this can teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, you and I, accept Atonement and learn to give it as it was received.
Communion is impossible alone. No one who stands apart can receive Christ’s vision. It is held out to him, but he cannot hold out his hand to receive it. Let him be still and recognize his brother’s need is his own. And let him then meet his brother’s need as his and see that they are met as one, for such they are. What is religion but an aid in helping him to see that this is so? And what is psychotherapy except a help in just this same direction? It is the goal that makes these processes the same, for they are one in purpose and must thus be one in means.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 27
I am forever an Effect of God.
Father, I was created in Your Mind, a holy Thought that never left its home. I am forever Your Effect, and You forever and forever are my Cause. As You created me I have remained. Where You established me I still abide. And all Your attributes abide in me, because it is Your Will to have a Son so like his Cause that Cause and Its Effect are indistinguishable. Let me know that I am an Effect of God, and so I have the power to create like You. And as it is in Heaven, so on earth. Your plan I follow here, and at the end I know that You will gather Your effects into the tranquil Heaven of Your Love, where earth will vanish, and all separate thoughts unite in glory as the Son of God.
Let us today behold earth disappear, at first transformed, and then, forgiven, fade entirely into God’s holy Will.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #659: A Course in Miracles is a self-study course by its own definition. What would be your view about Course-based psychotherapy?
A: Although the Course has been written as a self-study course, there would be nothing in its teachings that would preclude seeking out therapy for help along the way. Every relationship provides the opportunity to practice forgiveness and the therapist-patient relationship is no exception. Now it is true that nearly all the world’s forms of psychotherapy are concerned only with helping us make better ego-based adjustments to our life circumstances (P.2.in; I). And some may reinforce the belief in the dynamic of victim and victimizer, as experiences of abuse from the past may be uncovered or focused on. Nevertheless, therapy with a non-judgmental, accepting therapist can provide a useful context for identifying ego patterns and feelings that may be difficult to recognize on one’s own.
That Jesus is not opposed to psychotherapy as a supplement and support for his teachings is apparent from the pamphlet, Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process, and Practice, scribed by Helen Schucman from Jesus in a manner similar to how she took down the Course. However, a study of the pamphlet also makes it clear that, as a form of therapy, there is really no such thing as Course- based therapy. Jesus’ focus is only on the thoughts and attitudes in the mind of the therapist in relationship to the patient. He never makes any specific suggestions or recommendations about what the therapist should say or do with the patient — that is not his concern for that is not what brings about true healing. Healing only occurs when the therapist releases every judgment being held about the patient, recognizing that the two of them are really the same, walking together on the same path back home, with the same problem and the same need, to release the insane belief in the reality of separation.
For more extensive discussion of these issues, please look at Question #45 and #102.