ACIM Supplemental Reading for December 2
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice
THE PRACTICE OF PSYCHOTHERAPY
The Selection of Patients
Everyone who is sent to you is a patient of yours. This does not mean that you select him, nor that you choose the kind of treatment that is suitable. But it does mean that no one comes to you by mistake. There are no errors in God’s plan. It would be an error, however, to assume that you know what to offer everyone who comes. This is not up to you to decide. There is a tendency to assume that you are being called on constantly to make sacrifices of yourself for those who come. This could hardly be true. To demand sacrifice of yourself is to demand a sacrifice of God, and He knows nothing of sacrifice. Who could ask of Perfection that He be imperfect?
Who, then, decides what each brother needs? Surely not you, who do not yet recognize who he is who asks. There is Something in him that will tell you, if you listen. And that is the answer; listen. Do not demand, do not decide, do not sacrifice. Listen. What you hear is true. Would God send His Son to you and not be sure you recognize his needs? Think what God is telling you; He needs your voice to speak for Him. Could anything be holier? Or a greater gift to you? Would you rather choose who would be god, or hear the Voice of Him Who is God in you?
Your patients need not be physically present for you to serve them in the Name of God. This may be hard to remember, but God will not have His gifts to you limited to the few you actually see. You can see others as well, for seeing is not limited to the body’s eyes. Some do not need your physical presence. They need you as much, and perhaps even more, at the instant they are sent. You will recognize them in whatever way can be most helpful to both of you. It does not matter how they come. They will be sent in whatever form is most helpful; a name, a thought, a picture, an idea, or perhaps just a feeling of reaching out to someone somewhere. The joining is in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It cannot fail to be accomplished.
A holy therapist, an advanced teacher of God, never forgets one thing; he did not make the curriculum of salvation, nor did he establish his part in it. He understands that his part is necessary to the whole, and that through it he will recognize the whole when his part is complete. Meanwhile he must learn, and his patients are the means sent to him for his learning. What could he be but grateful for them and to them? They come bearing God. Would he refuse this Gift for a pebble, or would he close the door on the savior of the world to let in a ghost? Let him not betray the Son of God. Who calls on him is far beyond his understanding. Yet would he not rejoice that he can answer, when only thus will he be able to hear the call and understand that it is his?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 2
Section 12. What is the Ego?
The ego is idolatry; the sign of limited and separated self, born in a body, doomed to suffer and to end its life in death. It is the “will” that sees the Will of God as enemy, and takes a form in which it is denied. The ego is the “proof” that strength is weak and love is fearful, life is really death, and what opposes God alone is true.
The ego is insane. In fear it stands beyond the Everywhere, apart from All, in separation from the Infinite. In its insanity it thinks it has become a victor over God Himself. And in its terrible autonomy it “sees” the Will of God has been destroyed. It dreams of punishment, and trembles at the figures in its dreams; its enemies, who seek to murder it before it can ensure its safety by attacking them.
The Son of God is egoless. What can he know of madness and the death of God, when he abides in Him? What can he know of sorrow and of suffering, when he lives in eternal joy? What can he know of fear and punishment, of sin and guilt, of hatred and attack, when all there is surrounding him is everlasting peace, forever conflict-free and undisturbed, in deepest silence and tranquility?
To know reality is not to see the ego and its thoughts, its works, its acts, its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes, its plans for its salvation, and the cost belief in it entails. In suffering, the price for faith in it is so immense that crucifixion of the Son of God is offered daily at its darkened shrine, and blood must flow before the altar where its sickly followers prepare to die.
Yet will one lily of forgiveness change the darkness into light; the altar to illusions to the shrine of Life Itself. And peace will be restored forever to the holy minds which God created as His Son, His dwelling place, His joy, His love, completely His, completely one with Him.
There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.
How foolish, Father, to believe Your Son could cause himself to suffer! Could he make a plan for his damnation, and be left without a certain way to his release? You love me, Father. You could never leave me desolate, to die within a world of pain and cruelty. How could I think that Love has left Itself? There is no will except the Will of Love. Fear is a dream, and has no will that can conflict with Yours. Conflict is sleep, and peace awakening. Death is illusion; life, eternal truth. There is no opposition to Your Will. There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.
Forgiveness shows us that God’s Will is One, and that we share it. Let us look upon the holy sights forgiveness shows today, that we may find the peace of God. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q # 948: I have been in a troubled love relationship for five years. Sometimes when we’re in conflict, I accept what is being mirrored back to me as my own lack and wrong mindedness, and I feel at peace. At other times, I feel resentment toward my partner and envy other couples that I perceive as having more of a joint vision. A Course in Miracles teaches not to seek outside yourself and not to try and find another relationship that my ego would like better. Soon we will be seeing a counselor to help us with our issues. I know that the objective for the counselor will be to help us create more ego-based congruence. So how do I do this and stay true to the teaching of the Course? And if my goal is ego-based anyway, why not just find another relationship with someone who is more compatible with me?
A: A Course in Miracles is a guide that helps us shift from the ego to the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. It is not a guide to behavior. Thus, staying true to the teaching of the Course is solely a matter of what goes on in your mind. From the perspective of the Course, then, going to see a counselor for help with your issues is no more right or wrong than drinking water when you feel thirsty. The water is not healing. But it would be neither loving nor helpful to deny your body the liquid it requires to function and feel healthy. Similarly, counseling may not heal your mind. But if it can help alleviate your mental anguish, then it would be silly not to partake in it. In addition, all of our physical and psychological issues are, in reality, barriers we created to keep the Love of God out of our mind. Therefore, taking whatever actions will lessen their effects can be a helpful first step toward ultimately remembering God’s Love.
In the pamphlet Psychotherapy: Purpose, Practice and Procedure , Jesus states that “It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs” (p.3.II.6.1). Clearly, Jesus is not opposed to therapy. Moreover, we could replace the words therapist and patient with any two people who have a relationship. Healing occurs when we do not judge another — or ourselves. Thus, from Jesus’ perspective, whether you stay or leave a specific partner is irrelevant. What matters is how you stay or leave. This is why the Course urges us to ask the Holy Spirit for help questioning the purpose of all our thoughts and actions. The Holy Spirit knows that though they wear a million disguises, there are only two purposes we can have. We are always either projecting guilt or extending love. The Holy Spirit will always let us see which one we are doing.
Happily, He is an internal Therapist Who will always forget to judge us. So, if we hold His Hand, everything we do will become a healing classroom in forgiveness. Filled with His forgiveness and Love, you will recognize that neither you nor your partner is guilty — you are both simply afraid of love. It might be helpful for the two of you to work on this issue together, or it might be better to do it apart. But whether you stay together or break up, you will do so with a gentle kindness — a kindness that wants only what is best for both of you.
For a related discussion about special relationships, please see Question #701 What does the course say about leaving a relationship?.
Q #949: Recently my cat, whom I loved dearly, died. I know that animals are a projection of the collective mind just like the self that I identify with is. So, I take it that my cat’s mind and my mind are joined. I feel that my cat tried to stay alive longer than she wanted to, just for me, because she could feel that I truly loved her. I can still feel her presence now telling me that she had a peaceful transition and that she knows I tried my best to help her. There is nothing in A Course in Miracles that would invalidate my experience; is there?
A: No, there is nothing in A Course in Miracles that would invalidate your experience. The Course tells us repeatedly that minds are joined, and it means all minds . It does not matter whether we appear in this dream as human beings or as animals, we are all fragments of the same one mind that fell asleep and dreamed up a world in which we appear to be separate from each other and from God.
It sounds like the connection you continue to feel with your cat is providing you with great comfort. In case you — like many pet owners — are tempted to feel guilt over her death, let’s take a quick look at this issue. Because pets are dependant upon us for their very survival, owning them places us in a God-like role. After all, they do not appear to need God; they appear to need us . Unfortunately, along with the God-like role we play in our pets’ lives comes the agonizing sense that we are not up to the task and will destroy them — revealing ourselves as the murderers we judge ourselves to be. So relationships with pets (just like all relationships) are generally fraught with guilt. And indeed, there usually does come a point at which we have to decide when and how our pets will die. It would be difficult to imagine a more potent trigger for ontological guilt than this. But this can also provide a great opportunity for changing our mind.
The Course tells us that the body “neither lives nor dies” (T.6.V.A.1:4) and that “In the holy instant the condition of love is met, for [in that instant] minds are joined without the body’s interference, and where there is communication there is peace” (T.15.XI.7: 1). Clearly, from Jesus’ perspective (outside of this dream world), the body is nothing. To him, physical existence is irrelevant to the expression of love between minds.
So, crazy as it sounds from our perspective, your relationship with your cat is no more or less real now than it was when she appeared to be physically present. Either way, she is nothing more than a symbol in your mind. And either way, if you hold the ego’s hand she becomes a symbol of guilt, while if you hold the Holy Spirit’s Hand, she becomes a symbol of love and forgiveness.
If she has become a reminder to you that you do not have the power to hurt another and that there is a love in your mind that remains constant and unaffected by outside events, then that is a very helpful thing. Let her help you remember that no matter what happens between bodies, not one note in Heaven’s song will be missed (T.26.V.5:4) .
For related discussions about pets, please see Questions #134 and #340.