ACIM Supplemental Reading for November 28
The Process of Psychotherapy
The Role of the Psychotherapist
The psychotherapist is a leader in the sense that he walks slightly ahead of the patient, and helps him to avoid a few of the pitfalls along the road by seeing them first. Ideally, he is also a follower, for One should walk ahead of him to give him light to see. Without this One, both will merely stumble blindly on to nowhere. It is, however, impossible that this One be wholly absent if the goal is healing. He may, however, not be recognized. And so the little light that can be then accepted is all there is to light the way to truth.
Healing is limited by the limitations of the psychotherapist, as it is limited by those of the patient. The aim of the process, therefore, is to transcend these limits. Neither can do this alone, but when they join, the potentiality for transcending all limitations has been given them. Now the extent of their success depends on how much of this potentiality they are willing to use. The willingness may come from either one at the beginning, and as the other shares it, it will grow. Progress becomes a matter of decision; it can reach almost to Heaven or go no further than a step or two from hell.
It is quite possible for psychotherapy to seem to fail. It is even possible for the result to look like retrogression. But in the end there must be some success. One asks for help; another hears and tries to answer in the form of help. This is the formula for salvation, and must heal. Divided goals alone can interfere with perfect healing. One wholly egoless therapist could heal the world without a word, merely by being there. No one need see him or talk to him or even know of his existence. His simple Presence is enough to heal.
The ideal therapist is one with Christ. But healing is a process, not a fact. The therapist cannot progress without the patient, and the patient cannot be ready to receive the Christ or he could not be sick. In a sense, the egoless psychotherapist is an abstraction that stands at the end of the process of healing, too advanced to believe in sickness and too near to God to keep his feet on earth. Now he can help through those in need of help, for thus he carries out the plan established for salvation. The psychotherapist becomes his patient, working through other patients to express his thoughts as he receives them from the Mind of Christ.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 28
I need but call and You will answer me.
I am not asked to take salvation on the basis of an unsupported faith. For God has promised He will hear my call, and answer me Himself. Let me but learn from my experience that this is true, and faith in Him must surely come to me. This is the faith that will endure, and take me farther and still farther on the road that leads to Him. For thus I will be sure that He has not abandoned me and loves me still, awaiting but my call to give me all the help I need to come to Him.
Father, I thank You that Your promises will never fail in my experience, if I but test them out. Let me attempt therefore to try them, and to judge them not. Your Word is one with You. You give the means whereby conviction comes, and surety of Your abiding Love is gained at last.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #930: Some people are giving psychotherapy training based on A Course in Miracles . Is that really necessary or should I just stay with the Course itself?
A: People are free to do whatever they choose with the Course, either treating it as a total and complete thought system within itself — which it is — or attempting to combine it with whatever other teachings they are already familiar, whether they be alternative spiritual paths, self-help techniques, or various therapeutic models. Almost without exception, however, any attempt at integrating the Course with these other practices will involve some compromise of the Course’s radical principle of nonduality, as people, often without consciously realizing what they are doing, end up bringing its profound teaching down to their own level of understanding and comfort. There certainly is nothing bad or “sinful” about these kinds of integrative efforts, but they will almost certainly dilute the Course’s message and mix levels of teaching in an unhelpful way, confusing the student and reducing the value of both the Course and what it is being combined with.
Confusion arises because the Course is never saying anything about behavior, and almost every other teaching at some level addresses the issue of how we are acting in the world and relating interpersonally with others. And the Course is simply not concerned with inter personal issues, except as they are a mirror of what is happening at an intra personal level, that is, with decisions being made at the level of mind, where the illusory experience of being a separate, individual person originates. Changes may in turn be reflected at an interpersonal level, but that would never be the Course’s focus or concern.
And so you will do well simply to direct your efforts at understanding and applying the forgiveness principles of the Course as it stands on its own, recognizing that its only purpose is to bring about a change in how you see, or interpret, the world, and not to change the world that you see. Other approaches, such as psychotherapy, may certainly also have value and serve a very useful purpose in your life. The only mistake would be to attempt to combine them with the Course’s principles, rather than simply accepting their helpfulness at their own level.
Q #931: I have a question about judgment. In your answer to Question #642, you state “The Course does not ask us not to judge, but rather to recognize the judgments we do make, including the judgment against ourselves for judging.” I understand the context in which you made this response, meaning that one should not beat oneself up or feel guilty when we succumb to judgment, as this just fuels the ego. However, I need some clarification about the first part of your response. It seems that A Course in Miracles specifically asks us not to judge in several places. In the Manual for Teachers it states: “He must learn to lay all judgment aside, and ask only what he wants in every circumstance”(M.4.I.A.7:8). Also in the manual is an essay on being non-judgmental, starting with the line: “God’s teachers do not judge” (M.4.III.1:1). So my question is: should I strive not to judge, or strive only to observe when I am judging? The answer is probably to try to do both. Can you provide any additional perspective on this issue?
A: The Course comes to us in the dream of separation from the part of the mind of the Sonship that is outside of the dream. The need for its curriculum of teaching us non-judgment rests on our decision to identify with the body and the world, having already “judged” that separation is preferable to oneness by choosing it. The answer you quote is correct in that we will not learn not to judge if we deny that we have judged already, and continue to make judgments about a multitude of things all through the day, every day. When Jesus says God’s teachers do not judge, he is referring to the fact that the only activity of the split mind is choosing, not judging. The goal of the Course is to teach us that we are minds that choose, not bodies that judge. In fact, Jesus tells us we cannot judge: “You have often been urged to refrain from judging, not because it is a right to be withheld from you. You cannot judge . You merely can believe the ego’s judgments, all of which are false” (W.pI.151.4:2,3,4, italics added ). Thus, learning to “lay all judgment aside” means learning to see in the ego’s judgments the reflection of the mind’s choice for separation, instead of struggling with the judgments, or worse, believing they are true. Moreover, doing battle with the ego’s judgments is a lost cause. The ego will always judge. The important thing is to be willing to recognize the judgments and the purpose they serve, and to remember that they are always false. Their only usefulness is in revealing the mind’s choice for separation and the need for forgiveness.
Rather than struggle with judgments, what we are asked to do is be vigilant for the ego’s judgment in every situation with willingness to “lay it aside” by questioning it and remembering that there is another way of looking. In doing so, we make room for the Holy Spirit to reinterpret everything according to His perception. Everything then becomes a classroom to learn that the ego’s judgment is not our only option. Moreover, it is wrong about everything. In this classroom, the teacher of God learns to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit, rather than to judge. Awareness of judgment is the first step in the right direction, while striving not to judge short circuits the whole process. The ego presents itself in the form of judgment; the teacher of God departs from business as usual by seeing judgment as the reflection of the mind’s choice with an opportunity to choose again. Thus, the teacher of God does not judge (M.4.III.1:1) ; he chooses.