ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 31

ACIM Text Reading for January 31

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

IV. Love without Conflict

It is hard to understand what “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” really means. This is because it is not understandable to the ego, which interprets it as if something outside is inside, and this does not mean anything. The word “within” is unnecessary. The Kingdom of Heaven is you. What else but you did the Creator create, and what else but you is His Kingdom? This is the whole message which in its totality transcends the sum of its parts. You, too, have a kingdom that your spirit created. It has not ceased to create because of the ego’s illusions. Your creations are no more fatherless than you are. Your ego and your spirit will never be co-creators, but your spirit and your creator will always be. Be confident that your creations are as safe as you are.

The kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it. Amen.

This is written in the form of a prayer because it is useful in moments of temptation. It is a declaration of independence. You will find it very helpful if you understand it fully. The reason you need my help is because you have denied your own Guide and therefore need guidance. My role is to separate the true from the false, so truth can break through the barriers the ego has set up and can shine into your mind. Against our united strength the ego cannot prevail.

It is surely apparent by now why the ego regards spirit as its “enemy.” The ego arose from the separation, and its continued existence depends on your continuing belief in the separation. The ego must offer you some sort of reward for maintaining this belief. All it can offer is a sense of temporary existence, which begins with its own beginning and ends with its own ending. It tells you this life is your existence because it is its own. Against this sense of temporary existence spirit offers you the knowledge of permanence and unshakable being. No one who has experienced the revelation of this can ever fully believe in the ego again. How can its meager offering to you prevail against the glorious gift of God?

You who identify with your ego cannot believe God loves you. You do not love what you made, and what you made does not love you. Being made out of the denial of the Father, the ego has no allegiance to its maker. You cannot conceive of the real relationship that exists between God and His creations because of your hatred for the self you made. You project onto the ego the decision to separate, and this conflicts with the love you feel for the ego because you made it. No love in this world is without this ambivalence, and since no ego has experienced love without ambivalence the concept is beyond its understanding. Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly. This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s “drive to get.”

There is a kind of experience so different from anything the ego can offer that you will never want to cover or hide it again. It is necessary to repeat that your belief in darkness and hiding is why the light cannot enter. The Bible gives many references to the immeasurable gifts which are for you, but for which you must ask. This is not a condition as the ego sets conditions. It is the glorious condition of what you are.

No force except your own will is strong enough or worthy enough to guide you. In this you are as free as God, and must remain so forever. Let us ask the Father in my name to keep you mindful of His Love for you and yours for Him. He has never failed to answer this request, because it asks only for what He has already willed. Those who call truly are always answered. Thou shalt have no other gods before Him because there are none.

It has never really entered your mind to give up every idea you ever had that opposes knowledge. You retain thousands of little scraps of fear that prevent the Holy One from entering. Light cannot penetrate through the walls you make to block it, and it is forever unwilling to destroy what you have made. No one can see through a wall, but I can step around it. Watch your mind for the scraps of fear, or you will be unable to ask me to do so. I can help you only as our Father created us. I will love you and honor you and maintain complete respect for what you have made, but I will not uphold it unless it is true. I will come in response to a single unequivocal call.

Watch carefully and see what it is you are really asking for. Be very honest with yourself in this, for we must hide nothing from each other. If you will really try to do this, you have taken the first step toward preparing your mind for the Holy One to enter. We will prepare for this together, for once He has come, you will be ready to help me make other minds ready for Him. How long will you deny Him His Kingdom?

In your own mind, though denied by the ego, is the declaration of your release. God has given you everything. This one fact means the ego does not exist, and this makes it profoundly afraid. In the ego’s language, “to have” and “to be” are different, but they are identical to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows that you both have everything and are everything. Any distinction in this respect is meaningful only when the idea of “getting,” which implies a lack, has already been accepted. That is why we make no distinction between having the Kingdom of God and being the Kingdom of God.

The calm being of God’s Kingdom, which in your sane mind is perfectly conscious, is ruthlessly banished from the part of the mind the ego rules. The ego is desperate because it opposes literally invincible odds, whether you are asleep or awake. Consider how much vigilance you have been willing to exert to protect your ego, and how little to protect your right mind. Who but the insane would undertake to believe what is not true, and then protect this belief at the cost of truth?


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 31

Lesson 31
I am not the victim of the world I see.

Today’s idea is the introduction to your declaration of release. Again, the idea should be applied to both the world you see without and the world you see within. In applying the idea, we will use a form of practice which will be used more and more, with changes as indicated. Generally speaking, the form includes two aspects, one in which you apply the idea on a more sustained basis, and the other consisting of frequent applications of the idea throughout the day.

Two longer periods of practice with the idea for today are needed, one in the morning and one at night. Three to five minutes for each of these are recommended. During that time, look about you slowly while repeating the idea two or three times. Then close your eyes, and apply the same idea to your inner world. You will escape from both together, for the inner is the cause of the outer.

As you survey your inner world, merely let whatever thoughts cross your mind come into your awareness, each to be considered for a moment, and then replaced by the next. Try not to establish any kind of hierarchy among them. Watch them come and go as dispassionately as possible. Do not dwell on any one in particular, but try to let the stream move on evenly and calmly, without any special investment on your part. As you sit and quietly watch your thoughts, repeat today’s idea to yourself as often as you care to, but with no sense of hurry.

In addition, repeat the idea for today as often as possible during the day. Remind yourself that you are making a declaration of independence in the name of your own freedom. And in your freedom lies the freedom of the world.

The idea for today is also a particularly useful one to use as a response to any form of temptation that may arise. It is a declaration that you will not yield to it, and put yourself in bondage.


ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1026: “Your ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not, because if I am real, I am no more real than you are” (T.4.IV.10.8). Would you comment on this sentence? It confuses me. I am not sure what Jesus is saying here.

A: There are two parts to this statement. The first part — “The ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not” — is what we would expect of the ego, that it would try to convince us that separation, which the ego symbolizes, is reality, and oneness, which Jesus symbolizes, is not. The purpose of A Course in Miracles is to lead us to accept the Atonement for ourselves, which means that we come to recognize that the separation never happened. So if Jesus, as the symbol of oneness, is real, then the ego is not. Since the ego’s only purpose is self-preservation, regardless of the truth, it must make every effort to persuade us that the Jesus of the Course is not real.

The second part of the statement — “because if I am real, I am no more real than you are” — is another way of saying that if Jesus is real, we are all the same, and ultimately we are all one. The ego, confronted with the reality of Jesus, can only hope to persuade us that he is very different from us — God’s only Son, divine, innocent while we are guilty, existing before us through all of eternity. If the Jesus the ego is willing for us to embrace were real, the ego could remain in business, for the separation would be confirmed. That is what has made Christianity and its central figure Jesus so popular across the centuries — they affirm the reality of separation and differences and sin, as well as attack and victimization.

But the Course’s message is that we are all the same because we are all one. There are no differences that mean anything. If the Jesus who is like us is real and exists, then the ego and all its perceived differences are meaningless. And sin and guilt are nothing but idle fantasies with no effects. And all of this, to the ego, is blasphemous.

Q #1027: I have a compulsion to make to-do lists and set goals. Is this an ego thing? How do I let go of it? I feel like I’m supposed to surrender my will and life over to the Holy Spirit and let Him run the show, but every time I try, I end up back making lists. I feel like I’m doing something wrong and it’s creating a lot of tension in my life.

A: Fortunately, nowhere in A Course in Miracles does it say you cannot make to-do lists. Nor does it tell us to change our behavior or personality traits in any way. The Holy Spirit has indeed come to help us, but He will not pay the bills, wash the dishes or clean the garage. Putting ourselves under the Holy Spirit’s guidance means becoming mindful of the thoughts of judgment about ourselves and others that continually re-cycle the guilt in the mind for not choosing the Holy Spirit. The true source of tension is in the split mind that is in conflict between choosing the ego and the Holy Spirit. That is the real problem. The first thing on the Holy Spirit’s list is to see the problem where it is (in the mind), not where it has been projected ( making or not making lists).

As long as we believe the world is real, there is a place for making lists and setting goals. Things need to be done. Jesus acknowledges this in The Song of Prayer : There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not (S.1.I.2:4) The important question to ask is with whom the decisions are made (See: Rules for Decision T.30.I) . Guided by the ego, making lists and setting goals are activities driven by compulsion and need. The underlying belief is that salvation lies in the security of having lists and accomplishing tasks, and peace is lost when task goals are not set and met. They are thus used as attacks against peace. The Holy Spirit’s goal is the healing of the mind, and the only task needed to achieve this goal is forgiveness. His help is not directed toward behavior of any kind, but with the mind that chooses to believe that certain behaviors are valuable and then judges that decision as sinful. Lists cannot keep you from Heaven any more than they can get you in, unless, of course, returning to Heaven is on the list. In that case, the work to be done is the practice of forgiveness, which begins with awareness of the judgments against oneself and others. Looking at these judgments with the Holy Spirit means seeing that their true purpose is to keep Him away. That is how we beat the ego at its own game, so to speak, and invite the Holy Spirit to be in charge. It is a process of learning to see everything, from making lists to accomplishing the tasks on the lists, as opportunities for forgiveness. If that is at the top of the list, everything will serve the Holy Spirit’s purpose of healing, thereby putting Him in charge, rather than the ego.

teach not that i died in vain



ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 29

ACIM Text Reading for January 29

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

II. Right Teaching and Right Learning
A good teacher clarifies his own ideas and strengthens them by teaching them. Teacher and pupil are alike in the learning process. They are in the same order of learning, and unless they share their lessons conviction will be lacking. A good teacher must believe in the ideas he teaches, but he must meet another condition; he must believe in the students to whom he offers the ideas.

Many stand guard over their ideas because they want to protect their thought systems as they are, and learning means change. Change is always fearful to the separated, because they cannot conceive of it as a move towards healing the separation. They always perceive it as a move toward further separation, because the separation was their first experience of change. You believe that if you allow no change to enter into your ego you will find peace. This profound confusion is possible only if you maintain that the same thought system can stand on two foundations. Nothing can reach spirit from the ego, and nothing can reach the ego from spirit. Spirit can neither strengthen the ego nor reduce the conflict within it. The ego is a contradiction. Your self and God’s self are in opposition. They are opposed in source, in direction and in outcome. They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive and the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication. Nevertheless, the ego can learn, even though its maker can be misguided. He cannot, however, make the totally lifeless out of the life-given.

Spirit need not be taught, but the ego must be. Learning is ultimately perceived as frightening because it leads to the relinquishment, not the destruction, of the ego to the light of spirit. This is the change the ego must fear, because it does not share my charity. My lesson was like yours, and because I learned it I can teach it. I will never attack your ego, but I am trying to teach you how its thought system arose. When I remind you of your true creation, your ego cannot but respond with fear.

Teaching and learning are your greatest strengths now, because they enable you to change your mind and help others to change theirs. Refusing to change your mind will not prove that the separation has not occurred. The dreamer who doubts the reality of his dream while he is still dreaming is not really healing his split mind. You dream of a separated ego and believe in a world that rests upon it. This is very real to you. You cannot undo it by not changing your mind about it. If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.

Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will one day no longer need him. This is the one true goal of the teacher. It is impossible to convince the ego of this, because it goes against all of its own laws. But remember that laws are set up to protect the continuity of the system in which the lawmaker believes. It is natural for the ego to try to protect itself once you have made it, but it is not natural for you to want to obey its laws unless you believe them. The ego cannot make this choice because of the nature of its origin. You can, because of the nature of yours.

Egos can clash in any situation, but spirit cannot clash at all. If you perceive a teacher as merely “a larger ego” you will be afraid, because to enlarge an ego would be to increase anxiety about separation. I will teach with you and live with you if you will think with me, but my goal will always be to absolve you finally from the need for a teacher. This is the opposite of the ego-oriented teacher’s goal. He is concerned with the effect of his ego on other egos, and therefore interprets their interaction as a means of ego preservation. I would not be able to devote myself to teaching if I believed this, and you will not be a devoted teacher as long as you believe it. I am constantly being perceived as a teacher either to be exalted or rejected, but I do not accept either perception for myself.

Your worth is not established by teaching or learning. Your worth is established by God. As long as you dispute this everything you do will be fearful, particularly any situation that lends itself to the belief in superiority and inferiority. Teachers must be patient and repeat their lessons until they are learned. I am willing to do this, because I have no right to set your learning limits for you. Again, — nothing you do or think or wish or make is necessary to establish your worth. This point is not debatable except in delusions. Your ego is never at stake because God did not create it. Your spirit is never at stake because He did. Any confusion on this point is delusional, and no form of devotion is possible as long as this delusion lasts.

The ego tries to exploit all situations into forms of praise for itself in order to overcome its doubts. It will remain doubtful as long as you believe in its existence. You who made it cannot trust it, because in your right mind you realize it is not real. The only sane solution is not to try to change reality, which is indeed a fearful attempt, but to accept it as it is. You are part of reality, which stands unchanged beyond the reach of your ego but within easy reach of spirit. When you are afraid, be still and know that God is real, and you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. Do not let your ego dispute this, because the ego cannot know what is as far beyond its reach as you are.

God is not the author of fear. You are. You have chosen to create unlike Him, and have therefore made fear for yourself. You are not at peace because you are not fulfilling your function. God gave you a very lofty function that you are not meeting. Your ego has chosen to be afraid instead of meeting it. When you awaken you will not be able to understand this, because it is literally incredible. Do not believe the incredible now. Any attempt to increase its believableness is merely to postpone the inevitable. The word “inevitable” is fearful to the ego, but joyous to the spirit. God is inevitable, and you cannot avoid Him any more than He can avoid you.

The ego is afraid of the spirit’s joy, because once you have experienced it you will withdraw all protection from the ego, and become totally without investment in fear. Your investment is great now because fear is a witness to the separation, and your ego rejoices when you witness to it. Leave it behind! Do not listen to it and do not preserve it. Listen only to God, Who is as incapable of deception as is the spirit He created. Release yourself and release others. Do not present a false and unworthy picture of yourself to others, and do not accept such a picture of them yourself.

The ego has built a shabby and unsheltering home for you, because it cannot build otherwise. Do not try to make this impoverished house stand. Its weakness is your strength. Only God could make a home that is worthy of His creations, who have chosen to leave it empty by their own dispossession. Yet His home will stand forever, and is ready for you when you choose to enter it. Of this you can be wholly certain. God is as incapable of creating the perishable as the ego is of making the eternal.

Of your ego you can do nothing to save yourself or others, but of your spirit you can do everything for the salvation of both. Humility is a lesson for the ego, not for the spirit. Spirit is beyond humility, because it recognizes its radiance and gladly sheds its light everywhere. The meek shall inherit the earth because their egos are humble, and this gives them truer perception. The Kingdom of Heaven is the spirit’s right, whose beauty and dignity are far beyond doubt, beyond perception, and stand forever as the mark of the Love of God for His creations, who are wholly worthy of Him and only of Him. Nothing else is sufficiently worthy to be a gift for a creation of God Himself.

I will substitute for your ego if you wish, but never for your spirit. A father can safely leave a child with an elder brother who has shown himself responsible, but this involves no confusion about the child’s origin. The brother can protect the child’s body and his ego, but he does not confuse himself with the father because he does this. I can be entrusted with your body and your ego only because this enables you not to be concerned with them, and lets me teach you their unimportance. I could not understand their importance to you if I had not once been tempted to believe in them myself. Let us undertake to learn this lesson together so we can be free of them together. I need devoted teachers who share my aim of healing the mind. Spirit is far beyond the need of your protection or mine. Remember this:

In this world you need not have tribulation because I have overcome the world. That is why you should be of good cheer.


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 29

Lesson 29
God is in everything I see.

The idea for today explains why you can see all purpose in everything. It explains why nothing is separate, by itself or in itself. And it explains why nothing you see means anything. In fact, it explains every idea we have used thus far, and all subsequent ones as well. Today’s idea is the whole basis for vision.

You will probably find this idea very difficult to grasp at this point. You may find it silly, irreverent, senseless, funny and even objectionable. Certainly God is not in a table, for example, as you see it. Yet we emphasized yesterday that a table shares the purpose of the universe. And what shares the purpose of the universe shares the purpose of its Creator.

Try then, today, to begin to learn how to look on all things with love, appreciation and open-mindedness. You do not see them now. Would you know what is in them? Nothing is as it appears to you. Its holy purpose stands beyond your little range. When vision has shown you the holiness that lights up the world, you will understand today’s idea perfectly. And you will not understand how you could ever have found it difficult.

Our six two-minute practice periods for today should follow a now familiar pattern: Begin with repeating the idea to yourself, and then apply it to randomly chosen subjects about you, naming each one specifically. Try to avoid the tendency toward self-directed selection, which may be particularly tempting in connection with today’s idea because of its wholly alien nature. Remember that any order you impose is equally alien to reality.

Your list of subjects should therefore be as free of self-selection as possible. For example, a suitable list might include:

God is in this coat hanger.
God is in this magazine.
God is in this finger.
God is in this lamp.
God is in that body.
God is in that door.
God is in that waste basket.

In addition to the assigned practice periods, repeat the idea for today at least once an hour, looking slowly about you as you say the words unhurriedly to yourself. At least once or twice, you should experience a sense of restfulness as you do this.


ACIM Q & A for Today

iii. In “Right Teaching and Right Learning” I would like clarification on the following: “a good teacher….must meet another condition; he must believe in the students to whom he offers the ideas.” On one level, I understand Jesus is telling us he believes in us. How does this relate to someone teaching the Course? Does it refer to a non-judgmental attitude?

A: The Course tells us that in all our relationships we are both teaching and learning/teacher and student. The passage you quote is not referring exclusively to a teacher actually teaching the Course to students. It applies to each encounter we have with others. One of the most important goals of the Course is to teach us that we are minds with the power to choose, and are therefore responsible for our choice. This is the lesson we are asked to learn for ourselves and apply to everyone, whether or not they are students of the Course. It is the foundation of the forgiveness process, whereby we recognize that every experience in the dream, as well as every judgment concerning others, is the result of a choice in the mind to listen either to the voice of the ego, or the Voice of the Holy Spirit. The ego tells us we are bodies, and are guilty sinners deserving of punishment for believing this. The Holy Spirit tells us we are God’s innocent Son. What we choose determines what we believe about ourselves and others. We then teach it by the mere fact of believing it: “Remember always that what you believe you will teach. Believe with me, and we will become equal as teachers” (T.6.I.6:10,11).

When we perceive others as anything less than wholly deserving of God’s Love and ours, it is because we have believed the ego’s lie about our identity, judged ourselves as sinful, and believe the same about everyone else. We believe in students [others] by recognizing that they are not victims imprisoned in bodies; they are minds with the power to choose, just as we are.


Q #591: I have been doing a lot of reading on the conditions for learning A Course in Miracles. What I am stuck on is: “A good teacher must believe in the ideas he teaches; but he must meet another condition; he must believe in the students to whom he offers the ideas” (T.4.I.1:4). To me this means that if I believe in this Course it then becomes an “idea” in my mind, and I teach this idea. I interpret the second part to mean: (1) Jesus believes in us and is teaching us; and (2) at the level of the world we are all teachers and students. If I (the Son of God) am doing the teaching, would the student be anyone I meet, knew (in the past), or will know (in the future), or those I just think about? And would this mean that we have given up all judgment of these students or everything? Or do we not know when we are teaching?

A: Jesus is saying that to be a good teacher, not only must you believe in what you are teaching, you must also know that your students are capable of learning, and that in a very real sense they are ultimately the same as you. If you believe in the Course, you teach more than ideas. Teaching ideas is a good starting point, but if the content behind the ideas is not at some point conveyed through you, then you are not really teaching it. This comes through in paragraph 6, when Jesus lovingly reassures us: “I will teach with you and live with you if you will think with me, but my goal will always be to absolve you finally from the need for a teacher” (T.4.I.6:3). In other words, he is inviting us to become like him so that eventually there would be no difference between him and us, and he asks that we do this with each other. So as you are teaching others the ideas in the Course, you are learning that, on the only level that counts, you are not different from those you are teaching: all separation is an illusion, which makes judgment meaningless. That is the content that would eventually be expressed through your words as your practice of forgiveness progresses. You do not have to be in a formal teacher-student setting to do this. We teach all the time because we are always “broadcasting” in some way or other the decision we have made in our minds to identify with the ego’s thought system of separation or the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness, and others are always “scanning” for a signal that will somehow tell them that they are wrong in their self-condemnation and the projection of that on to others through judgment.



ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 28

ACIM Text Reading for January 28

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

I. Introduction
The Bible says that you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks. It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey. Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either. It can lead only to mutual progress. The result of genuine devotion is inspiration, a word which properly understood is the opposite of fatigue. To be fatigued is to be dis-spirited, but to be inspired is to be in the spirit. To be egocentric is to be dis-spirited, but to be self-centered in the right sense is to be inspired or in spirit. The truly inspired are enlightened and cannot abide in darkness.

You can speak from the spirit or from the ego, as you choose. If you speak from spirit you have chosen to “Be still and know that I am God.” These words are inspired because they reflect knowledge. If you speak from the ego you are disclaiming knowledge instead of affirming it, and are thus dis-spiriting yourself. Do not embark on useless journeys, because they are indeed in vain. The ego may desire them, but spirit cannot embark on them because it is forever unwilling to depart from its Foundation.

The journey to the cross should be the last “useless journey.” Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. If you can accept it as your own last useless journey, you are also free to join my resurrection. Until you do so your life is indeed wasted. It merely re-enacts the separation, the loss of power, the futile attempts of the ego at reparation, and finally the crucifixion of the body, or death. Such repetitions are endless until they are voluntarily given up. Do not make the pathetic error of “clinging to the old rugged cross.” The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. This is not the Gospel I intended to offer you. We have another journey to undertake, and if you will read these lessons carefully they will help prepare you to undertake it.


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 28

Lesson 28
Above all else I want to see things differently.

Today we are really giving specific application to the idea for yesterday. In these practice periods, you will be making a series of definite commitments. The question of whether you will keep them in the future is not our concern here. If you are willing at least to make them now, you have started on the way to keeping them. And we are still at the beginning.

You may wonder why it is important to say, for example, “Above all else I want to see this table differently.” In itself it is not important at all. Yet what is by itself? And what does “in itself” mean? You see a lot of separate things about you, which really means you are not seeing at all. You either see or not. When you have seen one thing differently, you will see all things differently. The light you will see in any one of them is the same light you will see in them all.

When you say, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are making a commitment to withdraw your preconceived ideas about the table, and open your mind to what it is, and what it is for. You are not defining it in past terms. You are asking what it is, rather than telling it what it is. You are not binding its meaning to your tiny experience of tables, nor are you limiting its purpose to your little personal thoughts.

You will not question what you have already defined. And the purpose of these exercises is to ask questions and receive the answers. In saying, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are committing yourself to seeing. It is not an exclusive commitment. It is a commitment that applies to the table just as much as to anything else, neither more nor less.

You could, in fact, gain vision from just that table, if you would withdraw all your own ideas from it, and look upon it with a completely open mind. It has something to show you; something beautiful and clean and of infinite value, full of happiness and hope. Hidden under all your ideas about it is its real purpose, the purpose it shares with all the universe.

In using the table as a subject for applying the idea for today, you are therefore really asking to see the purpose of the universe. You will be making this same request of each subject that you use in the practice periods. And you are making a commitment to each of them to let its purpose be revealed to you, instead of placing your own judgment upon it.

We will have six two-minute practice periods today, in which the idea for the day is stated first, and then applied to whatever you see about you. Not only should the subjects be chosen randomly, but each one should be accorded equal sincerity as today’s idea is applied to it, in an attempt to acknowledge the equal value of them all in their contribution to your seeing.

As usual, the applications should include the name of the subject your eyes happen to light on, and you should rest your eyes on it while saying

Above all else I want to see this ______ differently.

Each application should be made quite slowly, and as thoughtfully as possible. There is no hurry.


ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #747: I am still having a little doubt as to the nature of the ego. Is it such an evil entity always attempting to separate us from God? Isn’t it better just to think of a corpus of wrong ideas we have created of ourselves that serves the simple purpose of giving wrong answers when facing a situation? Isn’t it just a point of reference with which to compare the divine peace of Heaven? Why do we have to see it as such an entity? In my case this idea contributed to building a new kind of fear I had to deal with.

A: In A Course in Miracles , Jesus tells us exactly what the ego is : “What is the ego ? But a dream of what you really are. A thought you are apart from your Creator and a wish to be what He created not. It is a thing of madness, not reality at all. A name for namelessness is all it is. A symbol of impossibility; a choice for options that do not exist. We name it but to help us understand that it is nothing but an ancient thought that what is made has immortality. But what could come of this except a dream which, like all dreams, can only end in death?” (C.2.1:4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, italics ours ) The ego cannot then be an entity; it has no substance. It is the thought of separation, which is given power only by a choice in the mind to believe that it is true. The ego/thought exists in our experience because we want it to. We choose it over the Holy Spirit because we prefer our specialness as separate bodies to our truth as God’s innocent Son. We fear it because we fear the power of our minds that would recognize the nothingness of the ego. If the ego is nothing, so is the world and so is the body. That recognition is terrifying to those who cling to specialness in a body.

The world and the body arise in our experience as the result of choosing to identify with the thought of separation (ego) in the mind. Thus, the ego is not a thing outside of ourselves that exists on its own, acting as an agent that can tempt us to anything. We alone are responsible for bringing it into existence by believing in it and allowing it to thrive on the guilt that inevitably follows the choice to be other than the Son that God created. We would prefer to believe that the ego has a life of its own so we could dissociate from it. That would allow us to have our cake and eat it too; i.e., have an ego-free life as bodies outside of Heaven. However, Jesus tells us in the Course that neither the ego nor the body exists, because nothing exists outside of Heaven: “ Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere” (T.23.II.19:6). To ears that cling to “life” in a body this is not good news, and does indeed seem to instill fear. The fear, however, comes only from unwillingness to accept that truth be true. Yet in this same statement lies our hope for escape from the nightmare of separation. It tells us the ego has no life, and therefore no power and no effects. In another passage we are told: “ It [the ego] has no meaning. It does not exist. Do not try to understand it because, if you do, you are believing that it can be understood and is therefore capable of being appreciated and loved. That would justify its existence, which cannot be justified” (T.7.VI.11:6,7,8,9). That is good news. We are free to fix our attention on the path of forgiveness that is our only function here, and let the thought of separation be gradually undone. The ego, like the world, will then “fade into the nothingness from which it came.…” (M.13.1:2)

Q #748: If time is money, can we save it by spending less on our investment in the ego thought system. Will Jesus show us how to write this off? Could He be viewed as our ultimate financial advisor? Just wondering.

A: A helpful perspective! Sounds like a reflection on the section in the text of A Course in Miracles called “The Investment in Reality” (T.12.III) . Yes, we have invested heavily and almost exclusively in the ego thought system, and our losses have mounted accordingly. A diversified portfolio is always a wiser approach! And, yes, Jesus is showing us how to write off this bad debt. We could not find a better financial advisor. Unfortunately, we have not been listening to what he has been telling us for eons. Thankfully, he’s still saying it, and we will never run out of chances to change our minds and turn back to him as our advisor. Essentially he is showing us how we got into trouble and how to get out of it, without losing anything of value. What a deal! The only condition is that we muster up the humility to question our own judgment and agree to learn how to judge everything with him , which should not be hard to do, given our dismal performance thus far. Accepting him as our advisor is the best decision we could ever make, because it will give us everything we truly have longed for, and no sacrifice will ever have been asked. A no brainer!







ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 27

ACIM Text Reading for January 27

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

VII. Creating versus the Self-Image
Every system of thought must have a starting point. It begins with either a making or a creating, a difference we have already discussed. Their resemblance lies in their power as foundations. Their difference lies in what rests upon them. Both are cornerstones for systems of belief by which one lives. It is a mistake to believe that a thought system based on lies is weak. Nothing made by a child of God is without power. It is essential to realize this, because otherwise you will be unable to escape from the prison you have made.

You cannot resolve the authority problem by depreciating the power of your mind. To do so is to deceive yourself, and this will hurt you because you really understand the strength of the mind. You also realize that you cannot weaken it, any more than you can weaken God. The “devil” is a frightening concept because he seems to be extremely powerful and extremely active. He is perceived as a force in combat with God, battling Him for possession of His creations. The devil deceives by lies, and builds kingdoms in which everything is in direct opposition to God. Yet he attracts men rather than repels them, and they are willing to “sell” him their souls in return for gifts of no real worth. This makes absolutely no sense.

We have discussed the fall or separation before, but its meaning must be clearly understood. The separation is a system of thought real enough in time, though not in eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer. The fruit of only one tree was “forbidden” in the symbolic garden. But God could not have forbidden it, or it could not have been eaten. If God knows His children, and I assure you that He does, would He have put them in a position where their own destruction was possible? The “forbidden tree” was named the “tree of knowledge.” Yet God created knowledge and gave it freely to His creations. The symbolism here has been given many interpretations, but you may be sure that any interpretation that sees either God or His creations as capable of destroying Their Own purpose is in error.

Eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a symbolic expression for usurping the ability for self-creating. This is the only sense in which God and His creations are not co-creators. The belief that they are is implicit in the “self-concept,” or the tendency of the self to make an image of itself. Images are perceived, not known. Knowledge cannot deceive, but perception can. You can perceive yourself as self-creating, but you cannot do more than believe it. You cannot make it true. And, as I said before, when you finally perceive correctly you can only be glad that you cannot. Until then, however, the belief that you can is the foundation stone in your thought system, and all your defenses are used to attack ideas that might bring it to light. You still believe you are an image of your own making. Your mind is split with the Holy Spirit on this point, and there is no resolution while you believe the one thing that is literally inconceivable. That is why you cannot create and are filled with fear about what you make.

The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the “devil.” It is powerful, active, destructive and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Look at your life and see what the devil has made. But realize that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth, because its foundation is a lie. Your creation by God is the only foundation that cannot be shaken, because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning. Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. Your Self is still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death.

The branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of life, and your own thought system will stand corrected. It cannot stand otherwise. You who fear salvation are choosing death. Life and death, light and darkness, knowledge and perception, are irreconcilable. To believe that they can be reconciled is to believe that God and His Son can not. Only the oneness of knowledge is free of conflict. Your Kingdom is not of this world because it was given you from beyond this world. Only in this world is the idea of an authority problem meaningful. The world is not left by death but by truth, and truth can be known by all those for whom the Kingdom was created, and for whom it waits.


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 27

Lesson 27
Above all else I want to see.

Today’s idea expresses something stronger than mere determination. It gives vision priority among your desires. You may feel hesitant about using the idea, on the grounds that you are not sure you really mean it. This does not matter. The purpose of today’s exercises is to bring the time when the idea will be wholly true a little nearer.

There may be a great temptation to believe that some sort of sacrifice is being asked of you when you say you want to see above all else. If you become uneasy about the lack of reservation involved, add:

Vision has no cost to anyone.

If fear of loss still persists, add further:

It can only bless.

The idea for today needs many repetitions for maximum benefit. It should be used at least every half hour, and more if possible. You might try for every fifteen or twenty minutes. It is recommended that you set a definite time interval for using the idea when you wake or shortly afterwards, and attempt to adhere to it throughout the day. It will not be difficult to do this, even if you are engaged in conversation, or otherwise occupied at the time. You can still repeat one short sentence to yourself without disturbing anything.

The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today’s idea to be true? Answer one of these questions, and you have answered the other. You will probably miss several applications, and perhaps quite a number. Do not be disturbed by this, but do try to keep on your schedule from then on. If only once during the day you feel that you were perfectly sincere while you were repeating today’s idea, you can be sure that you have saved yourself many years of effort.


ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1331 : I’ve been studying the Course over a long period of time and so it seems strange to me that I’m having this thought. The thought is: I really don’t want to be here any longer. It’s a thought that I experience so deeply and so frequently each day. It’s a thought that haunts me. Now, I do understand that the Course is about changing our mind and not about going to another place. I also understand that suicide is not the answer since the death of the body doesn’t solve anything. Maybe the deep longing to be out of this world is really a reflection of wanting to be out of the misery that having an ego entails — but this process takes so very long. Could you help me with this?

A: Recognizing that you do not want to be here is not only a normal and predictable consequence of studying A Course in Miracles , but, in fact, a crucial one. Again and again, the Course returns to the theme that this world is not our home. Indeed, it beautifully describes the experience of feeling haunted by the thought of not wanting to be here: “…there is a Child in you Who seeks His Father’s house, and knows that He is alien here…. It is this Child Who knows His Father. He desires to go home so deeply, so unceasingly, His voice cries unto you to let Him rest a while…. He whispers of His home unceasingly to you.” (W.p1.182.4:3; 5:2,3; 7:4).

Because most of us have spent our entire lives keeping this unceasing voice deeply buried, Jesus’ efforts in the Course to bring it to our awareness can feel quite shocking. We may simultaneously be comforted that he knows exactly how we feel and frightened that we now have to acknowledge a truth that threatens the very foundation of who we think we are. Fortunately, there is another message in the Course that makes this situation bearable. Jesus teaches us that we are not here. He tells us, “Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself” (T.28.II.4:1) . He further teaches us that since this is a dream, we have control over the dream’s content: “…there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep, depending on the purpose of your dreaming. A dream is like a memory in that it pictures what you wanted shown to you” (T.28.II.4:3, 5) .

This, then, provides the key with which we can face the sense of not wanting to be here and ultimately find relief from the pain it causes us. The ego would have us interpret our desire not to be here as a longing to leave the physical world — an inherently futile endeavor because there is no physical world from which to escape. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, would reinterpret this desire as the perfectly sensible and achievable longing to awaken and leave the state of mind that has brought us nothing but pain. Therefore, by turning over the thought, “I don’t want to be here any longer” to the Holy Spirit, we can have it transformed from a hopeless lament about our seemingly external situation into an inspirational wake-up call to change our internal situation. In the process, the world will seem to change from a noxious prison to a wondrous classroom.

When we are tempted to feel like prisoners here, threatened by seemingly cruel external forces and frustrated by a spiritual journey that can feel slow and rocky, we would do well to remember the following words: “…there must be another way of looking at [the world] . I see everything upside down, and my thoughts are the opposite of truth. I see the world as a prison for God’s Son. It must be, then, that the world is really a place where he can be set free. I would look upon the world as it is, and see it as a place where the Son of God finds his freedom” (W.p1.57.3).


Q #1332: My question is in regard to sickness. I understand the idea that sickness, according to A Course in Miracles , is of the mind and is a perspective, etc. However, we obviously will all die of something unless we have reached a level of enlightenment in which we can just leave our bodies at will and break with the illusion. Does this mean that everyone who dies, no matter what level they have reached spiritually is still holding “unforgiveness”? I know of some very high beings who still got diseases, had strokes, and other health issues.

A: A Course in Miracles states that “no one dies without his own consent” (W.pI.152.1) ; but this decision can be wrong-minded or right-minded. Our discussion in Question #262 focuses on the important distinction between form and content in the Course’s view of death. Helpful references are also provided there as well as in Questions #494 and #604. The key point is that the condition of the body does not automatically tell us which thought system the mind has chosen and whether or not the mind has reached enlightenment. Thus, we should not attempt to judge based upon appearances. A healed mind could take the form of a cancer-consumed dying body if there were a valuable teaching purpose in it, for example. That mind, though, would not be suffering — a most difficult teaching for us to comprehend and accept, because of our lack of awareness of our mind and our body-oriented way of thinking. Jesus’ body certainly seemed to be in terrible condition at the end, but we would not conclude that his mind must therefore have been in terrible condition as well. A seemingly pain-wracked body is not necessarily a regrettable tragedy, in other words. Again, this can only be understood from the perspective of the mind’s right-minded position “above the battleground” of the ego’s world of bodies.
kingdom of god


ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 26

ACIM Text Reading for January 26

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

VI. Judgment and the Authority Problem
We have already discussed the Last Judgment, but in insufficient detail. After the Last Judgment there will be no more. Judgment is symbolic because beyond perception there is no judgment. When the Bible says “Judge not that ye be not judged,” it means that if you judge the reality of others you will be unable to avoid judging your own.

The choice to judge rather than to know is the cause of the loss of peace. Judgment is the process on which perception but not knowledge rests. I have discussed this before in terms of the selectivity of perception, pointing out that evaluation is its obvious prerequisite. Judgment always involves rejection. It never emphasizes only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether in you or in others. What has been perceived and rejected, or judged and found wanting, remains in your mind because it has been perceived. One of the illusions from which you suffer is the belief that what you judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless you also believe that what you judged against does not exist. You evidently do not believe this, or you would not have judged against it. In the end it does not matter whether your judgment is right or wrong. Either way you are placing your belief in the unreal. This cannot be avoided in any type of judgment, because it implies the belief that reality is yours to select from.

You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment. When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from the belief that you are under the coercion of judgment. You do not need judgment to organize your life, and you certainly do not need it to organize yourself. In the presence of knowledge all judgment is automatically suspended, and this is the process that enables recognition to replace perception.

You are very fearful of everything you perceive but have refused to accept. You believe that, because you have refused to accept it, you have lost control over it. This is why you see it in nightmares, or in pleasant disguises in what seem to be your happier dreams. Nothing that you have refused to accept can be brought into awareness. It is not dangerous in itself, but you have made it seem dangerous to you.

When you feel tired, it is because you have judged yourself as capable of being tired. When you laugh at someone, it is because you have judged him as unworthy. When you laugh at yourself you must laugh at others, if only because you cannot tolerate the idea of being more unworthy than they are. All this makes you feel tired because it is essentially disheartening. You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourself. The strain of constant judgment is virtually intolerable. It is curious that an ability so debilitating would be so deeply cherished. Yet if you wish to be the author of reality, you will insist on holding on to judgment. You will also regard judgment with fear, believing that it will someday be used against you. This belief can exist only to the extent that you believe in the efficacy of judgment as a weapon of defense for your own authority.

God offers only mercy. Your words should reflect only mercy, because that is what you have received and that is what you should give. Justice is a temporary expedient, or an attempt to teach you the meaning of mercy. It is judgmental only because you are capable of injustice.

I have spoken of different symptoms, and at that level there is almost endless variation. There is, however, only one cause for all of them: the authority problem. This is “the root of all evil.” Every symptom the ego makes involves a contradiction in terms, because the mind is split between the ego and the Holy Spirit, so that whatever the ego makes is incomplete and contradictory. This untenable position is the result of the authority problem which, because it accepts the one inconceivable thought as its premise, can produce only ideas that are inconceivable.

The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When you have an authority problem, it is always because you believe you are the author of yourself and project your delusion onto others. You then perceive the situation as one in which others are literally fighting you for your authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God. This belief is very frightening to them, but hardly troubles God. He is, however, eager to undo it, not to punish His children, but only because He knows that it makes them unhappy. God’s creations are given their true Authorship, but you prefer to be anonymous when you choose to separate yourself from your Author. Being uncertain of your true Authorship, you believe that your creation was anonymous. This leaves you in a position where it sounds meaningful to believe that you created yourself. The dispute over authorship has left such uncertainty in your mind that it may even doubt whether you really exist at all.

Only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible. You have not usurped the power of God, but you have lost it. Fortunately, to lose something does not mean that it has gone. It merely means that you do not remember where it is. Its existence does not depend on your ability to identify it, or even to place it. It is possible to look on reality without judgment and merely know that it is there.

Peace is a natural heritage of spirit. Everyone is free to refuse to accept his inheritance, but he is not free to establish what his inheritance is. The problem everyone must decide is the fundamental question of authorship. All fear comes ultimately, and sometimes by way of very devious routes, from the denial of Authorship. The offense is never to God, but only to those who deny Him. To deny His Authorship is to deny yourself the reason for your peace, so that you see yourself only in segments. This strange perception is the authority problem.

There is no one who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way. If this is the result of his own free will he must regard his will as not free, or the circular reasoning in this position would be quite apparent. Free will must lead to freedom. Judgment always imprisons because it separates segments of reality by the unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one in his right mind believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed. Instead of “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven” say, “Will ye first the Kingdom of Heaven,” and you have said, “I know what I am and I accept my own inheritance.”


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 26

Lesson 26
My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

It is surely obvious that if you can be attacked you are not invulnerable. You see attack as a real threat. That is because you believe that you can really attack. And what would have effects through you must also have effects on you. It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now. You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests, rather than against them.

Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack. And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable. Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are. Attack thoughts and invulnerability cannot be accepted together. They contradict each other.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first. If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes. Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself. And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself. A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.

Practice with today’s idea will help you to understand that vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of your own thoughts. Nothing except your thoughts can attack you. Nothing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulnerable. And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so.

Six practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. A full two minutes should be attempted for each of them, although the time may be reduced to a minute if the discomfort is too great. Do not reduce it further.

The practice period should begin with repeating the idea for today, then closing your eyes and reviewing the unresolved questions whose outcomes are causing you concern. The concern may take the form of depression, worry, anger, a sense of imposition, fear, foreboding or preoccupation. Any problem as yet unsettled that tends to recur in your thoughts during the day is a suitable subject. You will not be able to use very many for any one practice period, because a longer time than usual should be spent with each one. Today’s idea should be applied as follows:

First, name the situation:

I am concerned about ______.

Then go over every possible outcome that has occurred to you in that connection and which has caused you concern, referring to each one quite specifically, saying:

I am afraid ______ will happen.

If you are doing the exercises properly, you should have some five or six distressing possibilities available for each situation you use, and quite possibly more. It is much more helpful to cover a few situations thoroughly than to touch on a larger number. As the list of anticipated outcomes for each situation continues, you will probably find some of them, especially those that occur to you toward the end, less acceptable to you. Try, however, to treat them all alike to whatever extent you can.

After you have named each outcome of which you are afraid, tell yourself:

That thought is an attack upon myself.

Conclude each practice period by repeating today’s idea to yourself once more.


ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1163: In the first chapter of A Course in Miracles , Jesus talks about a traumatic experience that could result from starting on later stages of the Course without the preparation that careful study of the earlier sections would provide, because awe would then likely be confused with fear (T.1.VII.4,5). How exactly can your studying of the Course result in a traumatic experience? Which, more precisely, are the early sections and which the later ones, that Jesus is referring to in the text?

A: Jesus does not identify specifically which sections in the text are the early ones and which are the later ones. But he is basically talking about not jumping from the bottom of the spiritual ladder right up to the top without taking the intervening steps. Many people want instant enlightenment and do not want to do the often unpleasant and uncomfortable work of looking at their egos and how their lives have been directed by their choice to have the ego as their teacher instead of the Holy Spirit. That’s not a pretty sight in our minds, but we will never be able to truly get beyond the ego and all its hate and selfishness without looking at it and humbly admitting we were wrong in wanting the special identity the ego offered in place of our true Identity as Christ. We must learn how to do that, trusting Jesus’ word more and more that we will not be punished — even annihilated as the ego warns us — for having made a substitute for God’s Love. We must practice every day how to shift the purpose of our lives and our relationships from the ego’s to the Holy Spirit’s; but we cannot do that without seeing — sometimes shockingly so — the extent of our investment in the ego and how we manifest the ego’s madness of separation 24 hours a day, usually.

The point is, we have covered all of that over because we were convinced that unspeakably horrific things would happen if we ever remembered we have a mind and then would go back there and look at what we chose. There is such fear buried there that if we were to approach God directly, we would surely be thrown into a disabling panic. We need to approach God indirectly, through forgiveness and a relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit first, because of all the distorted notions we have implanted in our minds about Who God is and what we can expect of Him when we meet Him face to face. Jesus discusses this indirect approach in Chapter 14 of the text in the section called “The Conditions of Learning” (T.14.I). Earlier in Chapter 12 he tells us: “You cannot lay aside the obstacles to real vision without looking upon them, for to lay aside means to judge against. If you will look, the Holy Spirit will judge, and He will judge truly. Yet He cannot shine away what you keep hidden, for you have not offered it to Him and He cannot take it from you.

We are therefore embarking on an organized, well-structured and carefully planned program aimed at learning how to offer to the Holy Spirit everything you do not want. He knows what to do with it. You do not understand how to use what He knows. Whatever is given Him that is not of God is gone. Yet you must look at it yourself in perfect willingness, for otherwise His knowledge remains useless to you. Surely He will not fail to help you, since help is His only purpose. Do you not have greater reason for fearing the world as you perceive it, than for looking at the cause of fear and letting it go forever?” (T.12.II.9:6,7,8; 10)

This is the process Jesus wants us to focus on and not slip past, thinking we are already too spiritually advanced to have to engage in such work, and that we don’t need any help.


Q #781: Is it correct to say that since God is all there is, all else is a lie, illusion, hypnotism, a nothingness; and that error is never a person, but rather the person is a victim of the belief of good and evil? In other words, all error is coming from an impersonal source that uses us, and we unknowingly become its victim?

A: Absolutely “yes,” and absolutely “no.” Yes, God is, and nothing else is. There is only perfect Oneness, “nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within” (T.18.VI.1:6) . No, we are not the unknowing victims of an impersonal source of all error. A Course in Miracles teaches us that “we” are decision-making minds outside time and space that choose, erroneously, to believe that we have successfully separated from God. We are victims only of our own thoughts, fortunately, because we, then, are the ones who can change our minds about that decision and choose instead to accept the correction that is always in our minds. Ultimately, though, not even this occurred; if God alone is real, there could not even be a thought of separation.

Two helpful lessons on this topic are: Lesson 152 “The power of decision is my own” and Lesson 253 “My Self is ruler of the universe” (W.pI.152; W.pII.253) .

you have no idea



ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 25

ACIM Text Reading for January 25

Chapter 3 ~  The Innocent Perception

V. Beyond Perception

I have said that the abilities you possess are only shadows of your real strength, and that perception, which is inherently judgmental, was introduced only after the separation. No one has been sure of anything since. I have also made it clear that the resurrection was the means for the return to knowledge, which was accomplished by the union of my will with the Father’s. We can now establish a distinction that will clarify some of our subsequent statements.

Since the separation, the words “create” and “make” have become confused. When you make something, you do so out of a specific sense of lack or need. Anything made for a specific purpose has no true generalizability. When you make something to fill a perceived lack, you are tacitly implying that you believe in separation. The ego has invented many ingenious thought systems for this purpose. None of them is creative. Inventiveness is wasted effort even in its most ingenious form. The highly specific nature of invention is not worthy of the abstract creativity of God’s creations.

Knowing, as we have already observed, does not lead to doing. The confusion between your real creation and what you have made of yourself is so profound that it has become literally impossible for you to know anything. Knowledge is always stable, and it is quite evident that you are not. Nevertheless, you are perfectly stable as God created you. In this sense, when your behavior is unstable, you are disagreeing with God’s Idea of your creation. You can do this if you choose, but you would hardly want to do it if you were in your right mind.

The fundamental question you continually ask yourself cannot properly be directed to yourself at all. You keep asking what it is you are. This implies that the answer is not only one you know, but is also one that is up to you to supply. Yet you cannot perceive yourself correctly. You have no image to be perceived. The word “image” is always perception-related, and not a part of knowledge. Images are symbolic and stand for something else. The idea of “changing your image” recognizes the power of perception, but also implies that there is nothing stable to know.

Knowing is not open to interpretation. You may try to “interpret” meaning, but this is always open to error because it refers to the perception of meaning. Such incongruities are the result of attempts to regard yourself as separated and unseparated at the same time. It is impossible to make so fundamental a confusion without increasing your overall confusion still further. Your mind may have become very ingenious, but as always happens when method and content are separated, it is utilized in a futile attempt to escape from an inescapable impasse. Ingenuity is totally divorced from knowledge, because knowledge does not require ingenuity. Ingenious thinking is not the truth that shall set you free, but you are free of the need to engage in it when you are willing to let it go.

Prayer is a way of asking for something. It is the medium of miracles. But the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless. The prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that you may be able to recognize what you already have. In electing perception instead of knowledge, you placed yourself in a position where you could resemble your Father only by perceiving miraculously. You have lost the knowledge that you yourself are a miracle of God. Creation is your Source and your only real function.

The statement “God created man in His own image and likeness” needs reinterpretation. “Image” can be understood as “thought,” and “likeness” as “of a like quality.” God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There is nothing else. Perception, on the other hand, is impossible without a belief in “more” and “less.” At every level it involves selectivity. Perception is a continual process of accepting and rejecting, organizing and reorganizing, shifting and changing. Evaluation is an essential part of perception, because judgments are necessary in order to select.

What happens to perceptions if there are no judgments and nothing but perfect equality? Perception becomes impossible. Truth can only be known. All of it is equally true, and knowing any part of it is to know all of it. Only perception involves partial awareness. Knowledge transcends the laws governing perception, because partial knowledge is impossible. It is all one and has no separate parts. You who are really one with it need but know yourself and your knowledge is complete. To know God’s miracle is to know Him.

Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation. Correct perception of your brother is necessary, because minds have chosen to see themselves as separate. Spirit knows God completely. That is its miraculous power. The fact that each one has this power completely is a condition entirely alien to the world’s thinking. The world believes that if anyone has everything, there is nothing left. But God’s miracles are as total as His Thoughts because they are His Thoughts.

As long as perception lasts prayer has a place. Since perception rests on lack, those who perceive have not totally accepted the Atonement and given themselves over to truth. Perception is based on a separated state, so that anyone who perceives at all needs healing. Communion, not prayer, is the natural state of those who know. God and His miracle are inseparable. How beautiful indeed are the Thoughts of God who live in His Light! Your worth is beyond perception because it is beyond doubt. Do not perceive yourself in different lights. Know yourself in the One Light where the miracle that is you is perfectly clear.


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 25

Lesson 25

I do not know what anything is for.

Purpose is meaning. Today’s idea explains why nothing you see means anything. You do not know what it is for. Therefore, it is meaningless to you. Everything is for your own best interests. That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means. It is in recognizing this that your goals become unified. It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning.

You perceive the world and everything in it as meaningful in terms of ego goals. These goals have nothing to do with your own best interests, because the ego is not you. This false identification makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for. As a result, you are bound to misuse it. When you believe this, you will try to withdraw the goals you have assigned to the world, instead of attempting to reinforce them.

Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with “personal” interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all. And thus you do not know what anything is for.

Before you can make any sense out of the exercises for today, one more thought is necessary. At the most superficial levels, you do recognize purpose. Yet purpose cannot be understood at these levels. For example, you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity. What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for. And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.

It is crucial to your learning to be willing to give up the goals you have established for everything. The recognition that they are meaningless, rather than “good” or “bad,” is the only way to accomplish this. The idea for today is a step in this direction.

Six practice periods, each of two-minutes duration, are required. Each practice period should begin with a slow repetition of the idea for today, followed by looking about you and letting your glance rest on whatever happens to catch your eye, near or far, “important” or “unimportant,” “human” or “nonhuman.” With your eyes resting on each subject you so select, say, for example:

I do not know what this chair is for.
I do not know what this pencil is for.
I do not know what this hand is for.

Say this quite slowly, without shifting your eyes from the subject until you have completed the statement about it. Then move on to the next subject, and apply today’s idea as before.


ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #194: You explain in many places that A Course in Miracles is uncompromising about the fact that this world does not exist. Could you list the passages from the text and/or the workbook that explain that this is so?

A: We are listing a number of references here, and we also refer you to Q #111. This is an important issue, which actually is the foundation of the whole thought system of A Course in Miracles. You might also find our Glossary-Index for A Course in Miracles helpful — under “world.” When the main principles are identified, then you can see how they are expressed in many different ways. For example, if only what God creates exists, and God creates only what is eternal and infinite, then anything not of God does not and could not exist, i.e., the changing, limited cosmos.

A sampling of statements:

1) “Perception is not an attribute of God. His is the realm of knowledge.…In God you cannot see. Perception has no function in God, and does not exist” (W.pI.43.1:1,2; 2:1,2).

2) “There is no world! This is the central concept the course attempts to teach” (W.pI.132.6:2,3). There are other statements within this lesson that state the unreality of the world; e.g., “How can a world of time and place exist, if you remain as God created you?” (9:4); “There is no world because it is a thought apart from God, and made to separate the Father and the Son, and break away a part of God Himself and thus destroy His Wholeness. Can a world which comes from this idea be real? Can it be anywhere?” (13:1,2,3).

3) “I am as God created me”; “What has been given you? The knowledge that you are a mind, in Mind and purely mind, sinless forever, wholly unafraid, because you were created out of love. Nor have you left your Source, remaining as you were created” (W.pI.158.1:1,2,3).

4) “Sin is the home of all illusions, which but stand for things imagined, issuing from thoughts that are untrue. They are the ‘proof’ that what has no reality is real. Sin ‘proves’ God’s Son is evil; timelessness must have an end; eternal life must die. And God Himself has lost the Son He loves, with but corruption to complete Himself, His Will forever overcome by death, love slain by hate, and peace to be no more” (W.pII.4.3).

5) “What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal?” (T.20.VIII.7:3,4,5,ff.)

6) “There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion…Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere” (T.23.II.19.1,2,6).

7) “God’s laws do not obtain directly to a world perception rules, for such a world could not have been created by the Mind to which perception has no meaning. Yet are His laws reflected everywhere [through the Holy Spirit]. Not that the world where this reflection is, is real at all. Only because His Son believes it is, and from His Son’s belief He could not let Himself be separate entirely. He could not enter His Son’s insanity with him…” (T.24.III.2).

8) “This world is causeless…” (T.28.II.6:1).

9) “They [your eyes and ears] were made to look upon a world that is not there; to hear the voices that make no sound” (T.28.V.5:4).

10) “What seems eternal all will have an end. The stars will disappear, and night and day will be no more. All things that come and go, the tides, the seasons and the lives of men; all things that change with time and bloom and fade will not return. Where time has set an end is not where the eternal is” (T.29.VI.2:7,8,9,10).

11) “Can what has no beginning really end? The world will end in an illusion, as it began” (M.14.1:1,2).

12) “The world you see is an illusion of a world. God did not create it, for what He creates must be eternal as Himself. Yet there is nothing in the world you see that will endure forever. Some things will last in time a little while longer than others. But the time will come when all things visible will have an end” (C.4.1).

13) “What is false is false, and what is true has never changed” (W.pII.10.1:1).

14) “How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all” (T.31.I.1:1,2,3,4).

guiltless mind


ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 23

ACIM Text Reading for January 23

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

III. Perception versus Knowledge

We have been emphasizing perception, and have said very little about knowledge as yet. This is because perception must be straightened out before you can know anything. To know is to be certain. Uncertainty means that you do not know. Knowledge is power because it is certain and certainty is strength. Perception is temporary. As an attribute of the belief in space and time, it is subject either to fear or to love. Misperceptions produce fear and true perceptions foster love, but neither brings certainty because all perception varies. That is why it is not knowledge. True perception is the basis for knowledge, but knowing is the affirmation of truth and beyond all perceptions.

All your difficulties stem from the fact that you do not recognize yourself, your brother or God. To recognize means to “know again,” implying that you knew before. You can see in many ways because perception involves interpretation, and this means that it is not whole or consistent. The miracle, being a way of perceiving, is not knowledge. It is the right answer to a question, but you do not question when you know. Questioning illusions is the first step in undoing them. The miracle, or the right answer, corrects them. Since perceptions change, their dependence on time is obvious. How you perceive at any given time determines what you do, and actions must occur in time. Knowledge is timeless, because certainty is not questionable. You know when you have ceased to ask questions.

The questioning mind perceives itself in time, and therefore looks for future answers. The closed mind believes the future and the present will be the same. This establishes a seemingly stable state that is usually an attempt to counteract an underlying fear that the future will be worse than the present. This fear inhibits the tendency to question at all.

True vision is the natural perception of spiritual sight, but it is still a correction rather than a fact. Spiritual sight is symbolic, and therefore not a device for knowing. It is, however, a means of right perception, which brings it into the proper domain of the miracle. A “vision of God” would be a miracle rather than a revelation. The fact that perception is involved at all removes the experience from the realm of knowledge. That is why visions, however holy, do not last.

The Bible tells you to “Know thyself,” or to be certain. Certainty is always of God. When you love someone you perceive him as he is, and this makes it possible for you to know him. Until you first perceive him as he is you cannot know him. While you ask questions about him you are clearly implying that you do not know God. Certainty does not require action. When you say you are acting on the basis of knowledge, you are really confusing knowledge with perception. Knowledge provides the strength for creative thinking, but not for right doing. Perception, miracles and doing are closely related. Knowledge is the result of revelation and induces only thought. Even in its most spiritualized form perception involves the body. Knowledge comes from the altar within and is timeless because it is certain. To perceive the truth is not the same as to know it.

Right perception is necessary before God can communicate directly to His altars, which He established in His Sons. There He can communicate His certainty, and His knowledge will bring peace without question. God is not a stranger to His Sons, and His Sons are not strangers to each other. Knowledge preceded both perception and time, and will ultimately replace them. That is the real meaning of “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” and “Before Abraham was I am.” Perception can and must be stabilized, but knowledge is stable. “Fear God and keep His commandments” becomes “Know God and accept His certainty.”

If you attack error in another, you will hurt yourself. You cannot know your brother when you attack him. Attack is always made upon a stranger. You are making him a stranger by misperceiving him, and so you cannot know him. It is because you have made him a stranger that you are afraid of him. Perceive him correctly so that you can know him. There are no strangers in God’s creation. To create as He created you can create only what you know, and therefore accept as yours. God knows His children with perfect certainty. He created them by knowing them. He recognizes them perfectly. When they do not recognize each other, they do not recognize Him.


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 23

Lesson 23
I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.

If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.

The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?

You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.

The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.

Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind say:

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about ______.

Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.

In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods. We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.

© Foundation for Inner Peace • PO Box 598 • Mill Valley, CA 94942-0598


ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #558 : I am looking at quieting my mind and observing all my suffering from a new point of view. A Course in Miracles says my only function is forgiving It speaks to me of choosing that which is of value. It says I must look first at what I made in order to see what is and isn’t of value. My question is how do I look straight into all my ego-generated drama and hold on to that which is of value. I know that if my only function is forgiving, then that which is of value comes from that premise. But I get very caught up in the drama and find it hard to discern the valuable from the valueless. I am also looking at letting go of judgment, which I am beginning to see as valueless. I could use help in finding coping skills and daily meditations to help me through this change.

A: Yes, the Course is inviting us to take a look at our lives and all our suffering and pain from a completely different perspective. All of our categories and criteria up until now for sorting out what is valuable and helpful in our lives suddenly lose their validity, as the basic premise for deciding shifts from meeting our needs to letting go of our judgments, which is what the Course means by forgiveness. Two broad, all-encompassing generalizations follow from this new premise for deciding — nothing of the ego is of any value in itself, but everything of the ego provides us with the opportunities we need to practice forgiveness.

This also means that our focus shifts from the seemingly endless process of evaluating the ceaseless flow of external events in terms of their potential impact on our physical, emotional, mental, and psychological well-being, to a continuous monitoring of our own inner thoughts to ascertain whether or not they are helpful for recognizing our genuine well-being (sinlessness), which has already been guaranteed by God (W.pI.93.6,7).

So in practical terms, what does this mean? First of all, it means that you need not change anything external in terms of your routines and practices and daily activities, other than perhaps beginning the Workbook lessons, if you have not already. For the Workbook exercises provide the very specific instructions and meditations you are asking for to help bring about the shift from the outer to the inner focus — that is their purpose ( But all the other things in your life — your relationships, your job, your struggles, all the ego drama — now become the classrooms in which you learn to practice forgiveness. This is their value, for these are the situations you have set up in your life onto which you have deliberately but erroneously projected responsibility for determining how you feel about yourself and whether or not you are happy.

Whenever you find yourself making judgments about anything in your life, it is because you have made it a screen for your own guilt over the thought of separation, so that it can now be seen outside you. The first step in the forgiveness process then is to withdraw that projection from outside and acknowledge the guilt’s source in your own mind. And then, with the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit, you can release the guilt into the light of true forgiveness, which sees none of it as true.

Having described all this, it may be helpful to acknowledge that the resistance to this simple process is tremendous. So don’t be surprised if much of the time your thinking seems oblivious to this correction, mindlessly proceeding along its well-worn path of projecting responsibility for how you feel onto everyone but yourself. Gradually over time, with gentleness and patience, the awareness of how you want to sabotage the process and yourself will become more apparent. And the choice you have in each situation between the ego and the Holy Spirit will become increasingly obvious, as your willingness grows through the practice of forgiveness and the experience of its joyful effects.



ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 22

ACIM Text Reading for January 22

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

II. Miracles as True Perception
I have stated that the basic concepts referred to in this course are not matters of degree. Certain fundamental concepts cannot be understood in terms of opposites. It is impossible to conceive of light and darkness or everything and nothing as joint possibilities. They are all true or all false. It is essential that you realize your thinking will be erratic until a firm commitment to one or the other is made. A firm commitment to darkness or nothingness, however, is impossible. No one has ever lived who has not experienced some light and some thing. No one, therefore, is able to deny truth totally, even if he thinks he can.

Innocence is not a partial attribute. It is not real until it is total. The partly innocent are apt to be quite foolish at times. It is not until their innocence becomes a viewpoint with universal application that it becomes wisdom. Innocent or true perception means that you never misperceive and always see truly. More simply, it means that you never see what does not exist, and always see what does.

When you lack confidence in what someone will do, you are attesting to your belief that he is not in his right mind. This is hardly a miracle-based frame of reference. It also has the disastrous effect of denying the power of the miracle. The miracle perceives everything as it is. If nothing but the truth exists, right-minded seeing cannot see anything but perfection. I have said that only what God creates or what you create with the same will has any real existence. This, then, is all the innocent can see. They do not suffer from distorted perception.

You are afraid of God’s Will because you have used your own mind, which He created in the likeness of His Own, to miscreate. The mind can miscreate only when it believes it is not free. An “imprisoned” mind is not free because it is possessed, or held back, by itself. It is therefore limited, and the will is not free to assert itself. To be one is to be of one mind or will. When the Will of the Sonship and the Father are one, their perfect accord is Heaven.

Nothing can prevail against a Son of God who commends his spirit into the Hands of his Father. By doing this the mind awakens from its sleep and remembers its Creator. All sense of separation disappears. The Son of God is part of the Holy Trinity, but the Trinity Itself is one. There is no confusion within Its Levels, because They are of one Mind and one Will. This single purpose creates perfect integration and establishes the peace of God. Yet this vision can be perceived only by the truly innocent. Because their hearts are pure, the innocent defend true perception instead of defending themselves against it. Understanding the lesson of the Atonement they are without the wish to attack, and therefore they see truly. This is what the Bible means when it says, “When He shall appear (or be perceived) we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

The way to correct distortions is to withdraw your faith in them and invest it only in what is true. You cannot make untruth true. If you are willing to accept what is true in everything you perceive, you let it be true for you. Truth overcomes all error, and those who live in error and emptiness can never find lasting solace. If you perceive truly you are cancelling out misperceptions in yourself and in others simultaneously. Because you see them as they are, you offer them your acceptance of their truth so they can accept it for themselves. This is the healing that the miracle induces.


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 22

Lesson 22
What I see is a form of vengeance.

Today’s idea accurately describes the way anyone who holds attack thoughts in his mind must see the world. Having projected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike at him. His own attack is thus perceived as self defense. This becomes an increasingly vicious circle until he is willing to change how he sees. Otherwise, thoughts of attack and counter-attack will preoccupy him and people his entire world. What peace of mind is possible to him then?

It is from this savage fantasy that you want to escape. Is it not joyous news to hear that it is not real? Is it not a happy discovery to find that you can escape? You made what you would destroy; everything that you hate and would attack and kill. All that you fear does not exist.

Look at the world about you at least five times today, for at least a minute each time. As your eyes move slowly from one object to another, from one body to another, say to yourself:

I see only the perishable.
I see nothing that will last.
What I see is not real.
What I see is a form of vengeance.

At the end of each practice period, ask yourself:

Is this the world I really want to see?

The answer is surely obvious.


ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #913: I’ve been a student of A Course in Miracles for about 12 years. I know Course students often find that as they ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to look at the workings of the ego, things in there lives seem to get worse instead of better. What I am finding quite disturbing in my own process as a student, is the appearance, or perhaps the surfacing, of a great deal of anger. Sometimes in everyday situations, my thoughts become downright vicious and murderous. I would say that I have a pleasant personality, and am overall a likeable, friendly individual. My thought is that perhaps lots of repressed anger is surfacing as I am looking within more and more with the Holy Spirit’s help. I know I should ask the Holy Spirit to look at this issue with me too. But I’m almost scared to delve into what else might be lying below the surface of my otherwise soft-spoken, quiet personality. Is this a “normal” sort of development for a long-term Course student?

A: Yes, what you are describing is a very normal experience for Course students. As you know, the Course process is one of asking the Holy Spirit to look with us at the workings of the ego. In so doing, we are bringing to light that which we’ve always struggled very hard (albeit unconsciously) to keep in darkness. Often, as we become increasingly willing to take the Holy Spirit’s hand and bring to awareness that which we’d buried, we see more and more of how hateful and vicious the ego really is.

When the ego senses its game is up (realizing we’ve found a voice besides its own to listen to), it typically becomes louder and more dramatic. As the Course says, “The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased” (T.9.VII.4:6,7).

As we become more adept at shifting our inner teacher, fear often compels us to make a sharp turn back toward the ego’s familiar voice. But the Course reassures us that this tendency has no effect on our ultimate ability to complete the journey we’ve begun: “As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror. But you will advance, because your goal is the advance from fear to truth” (T.18.III.2:1,2).

Whatever games the ego plays, the important thing is to just continue looking at it while holding the Holy Spirit’s hand. Of course, on the level of this world, it’s generally preferable (and more helpful to you and those around you) not to act out the ego’s insane attack thoughts. But you don’t want to pretend they’re not there. Doing so doesn’t make them go away, it just sends them back into the darkness of the unconscious. And a basic psychological principle is that which is repressed gets projected. So, to truly become less hateful and vicious, we have to admit that we are those things and gradually learn not to take the ego’s voice seriously. Again, that means watching the ego without judgment, no matter how intense or embarrassing its internal nastiness becomes.

Remember that the ego — everyone’s ego — is 100 percent hate. A more socially acceptable personality does not equate to having an ego that is better or more acceptable than another. Jesus tells us “The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. …a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury” (W.pI.21.2:4,5) . At first, that statement can sound grotesque and deeply disturbing. But ultimately, it is quite reassuring. From Jesus’ perspective, we are all the same.

Each of us can choose to listen to the 100 percent hateful voice of the ego, or to the 100 percent loving Voice of the Holy Spirit. Each of us, regardless of the personality traits we display in this lifetime, is both a Hitler and a Jesus. At those times when our thoughts or behavior are more Hitler-like, we have merely become afraid, dropped the Holy Spirit’s hand, and once again made the error of listening to the wrong voice. This is a mistake calling for correction not punishment. And happily, our ego’s cruel and insane ranting has no effect on reality.

For related discussions about anger and attack, see Questions #63 and #587.


Q #914: A Course in Miracles mentions a longitudinal and a horizontal plane. Would you please explain these terms?

A: The passage in A Course in Miracles to which you are referring states, “The miracle minimizes the need for time. In the longitudinal or horizontal plane the recognition of the equality of the members of the Sonship appears to involve almost endless time. However, the miracle entails a sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception” (T.1.II.6:1,2,3).

That passage comes just after Jesus has told us “‘No man cometh unto the Father but by me’ does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist. The statement is more meaningful in terms of a vertical rather than a horizontal axis” (T.1.II.4:1,2).

Jesus uses the terms longitudinal and horizontal to refer to our experience of linear time within a world of form. He chooses these words because they imply something that spans a distance and follows a path from one point to another.

We believe that we were born into a world of form that existed before we did and that will continue to exist after we die. It’s a world in which events seem to follow one another and in which the past led to the present, which in turn will determine our future. Further, we seem to live as bodies, separate from each other with distance between us. So the “horizontal or vertical plane” is our seeming everyday reality — a linear, sequential, physical experience, characterized by differences and separation.

But the Course tells us that “Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion …” (W.158.4:1) and that “…space is as meaningless as time” (T.1.VI.3:5). Jesus helps us remember that we can listen to an internal teacher — the Holy Spirit — who comes from outside of this spatial, temporal dream world we think we are in. The moment we turn away from the ego and turn toward the Holy Spirit as our guide (the miracle), our mind becomes a reflection of the oneness and timelessness of Heaven. That instant is what Jesus means by “the sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception.”

The word “vertical” means to rise upright. So the “vertical plane” symbolizes our rising above the world we think we are in (or, as Jesus says, “above the battleground”). This entails returning to the non-linear mind.

The idea that Jesus is no different from us except in time is hardly reassuring from our perspective in which the gulf between our consciousness and his seems insurmountable. To us it seems like we would need millions of years of learning to go from where we are to where he is. But in fact, all we need is an internal shift from the ego, which tells us to move backward or forward (but either way keeps us firmly planted in this world) to the Holy Spirit, Who will gently help us reach the light that lies beyond this illusory world.

A final note; any term Jesus uses in the Course to describe where we are, or the process of returning to our true home in Heaven, is only a symbol. In truth there is no horizontal or vertical plane, just as there is no world. But since virtually every symbol we have placed in this dream world serves to keep us asleep, Jesus uses symbols we can relate to that will help us to awaken.

For an in depth discussion of the concept of time from the Course’s perspective, see the book A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles by Kenneth Wapnick .

For related discussions about the mind, time, and space, please see Questions #228 and #666.

this is practical course


ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 21

ACIM Text Reading for January 21

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

I. Atonement without Sacrifice

A further point must be perfectly clear before any residual fear still associated with miracles can disappear. The crucifixion did not establish the Atonement; the resurrection did. Many sincere Christians have misunderstood this. No one who is free of the belief in scarcity could possibly make this mistake. If the crucifixion is seen from an upside-down point of view, it does appear as if God permitted and even encouraged one of His Sons to suffer because he was good. This particularly unfortunate interpretation, which arose out of projection, has led many people to be bitterly afraid of God. Such anti-religious concepts enter into many religions. Yet the real Christian should pause and ask, “How could this be?” Is it likely that God Himself would be capable of the kind of thinking which His Own words have clearly stated is unworthy of His Son?

The best defense, as always, is not to attack another’s position, but rather to protect the truth. It is unwise to accept any concept if you have to invert a whole frame of reference in order to justify it. This procedure is painful in its minor applications and genuinely tragic on a wider scale. Persecution frequently results in an attempt to “justify” the terrible misperception that God Himself persecuted His Own Son on behalf of salvation. The very words are meaningless. It has been particularly difficult to overcome this because, although the error itself is no harder to correct than any other, many have been unwilling to give it up in view of its prominent value as a defense. In milder forms a parent says, “This hurts me more than it hurts you,” and feels exonerated in beating a child. Can you believe our Father really thinks this way? It is so essential that all such thinking be dispelled that we must be sure that nothing of this kind remains in your mind. I was not “punished” because you were bad. The wholly benign lesson the Atonement teaches is lost if it is tainted with this kind of distortion in any form.

The statement “Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the Lord” is a misperception by which one assigns his own “evil” past to God. The “evil” past has nothing to do with God. He did not create it and He does not maintain it. God does not believe in retribution. His Mind does not create that way. He does not hold your “evil” deeds against you. Is it likely that He would hold them against me? Be very sure that you recognize how utterly impossible this assumption is, and how entirely it arises from projection. This kind of error is responsible for a host of related errors, including the belief that God rejected Adam and forced him out of the Garden of Eden. It is also why you may believe from time to time that I am misdirecting you. I have made every effort to use words that are almost impossible to distort, but it is always possible to twist symbols around if you wish.

Sacrifice is a notion totally unknown to God. It arises solely from fear, and frightened people can be vicious. Sacrificing in any way is a violation of my injunction that you should be merciful even as your Father in Heaven is merciful. It has been hard for many Christians to realize that this applies to themselves. Good teachers never terrorize their students. To terrorize is to attack, and this results in rejection of what the teacher offers. The result is learning failure.

I have been correctly referred to as “the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world,” but those who represent the lamb as blood-stained do not understand the meaning of the symbol. Correctly understood, it is a very simple symbol that speaks of my innocence. The lion and the lamb lying down together symbolize that strength and innocence are not in conflict, but naturally live in peace. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” is another way of saying the same thing. A pure mind knows the truth and this is its strength. It does not confuse destruction with innocence because it associates innocence with strength, not with weakness.

Innocence is incapable of sacrificing anything, because the innocent mind has everything and strives only to protect its wholeness. It cannot project. It can only honor other minds, because honor is the natural greeting of the truly loved to others who are like them. The lamb “taketh away the sins of the world” in the sense that the state of innocence, or grace, is one in which the meaning of the Atonement is perfectly apparent. The Atonement is entirely unambiguous. It is perfectly clear because it exists in light. Only the attempts to shroud it in darkness have made it inaccessible to those who do not choose to see.

The Atonement itself radiates nothing but truth. It therefore epitomizes harmlessness and sheds only blessing. It could not do this if it arose from anything but perfect innocence. Innocence is wisdom because it is unaware of evil, and evil does not exist. It is, however, perfectly aware of everything that is true. The resurrection demonstrated that nothing can destroy truth. Good can withstand any form of evil, as light abolishes forms of darkness. The Atonement is therefore the perfect lesson. It is the final demonstration that all the other lessons I taught are true. If you can accept this one generalization now, there will be no need to learn from many smaller lessons. You are released from all errors if you believe this.

The innocence of God is the true state of the mind of His Son. In this state your mind knows God, for God is not symbolic; He is Fact. Knowing His Son as he is, you realize that the Atonement, not sacrifice, is the only appropriate gift for God’s altar, where nothing except perfection belongs. The understanding of the innocent is truth. That is why their altars are truly radiant.


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 21

Lesson 21
I am determined to see things differently.

The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one. This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise. Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.

In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself. Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you. The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage. The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.

Try, therefore, not to let the “little” thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods. Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything. You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or persons than on others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more “obvious.” This is not so. It is merely an example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others.

As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself:

I am determined to see ________ [name of person] differently.

I am determined to see ________ [specify the situation] differently.

Try to be as specific as possible. You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect. If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say:

I am determined to see ________ [specify the attribute] in
________ [name of person] differently.


ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #597: A Course in Miracles states that “the crucifixion did not establish the Atonement; the resurrection did.” I understand that the Atonement is the realization that nothing happened, that there was no split and that we are still part of God and always have been part of God. It is easy to see that the resurrection showed that the body was meaningless and could be “displayed” any time. Also the fact that God would give his only begotten son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world is such a ridiculous statement that it staggers the mind to believe that any intelligent person, for 2000 years, could believe this of a loving God.

What I do not understand is how the resurrection established the Atonement. Did not Jesus show many people that the body was nothing with all of his miracles particularly in raising Lazarus?

A: As you point out, traditional Christianity teaches that Jesus’ death on the cross atoned for our sins and reopened the gates of Heaven. God then raised him from the dead as proof that Jesus was the Son of God, and that his sacrifice bridged the gap that occurred between God and His children when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden. The Gospel account tells of the resurrection of the body and establishes that fact as a fundamental belief for many Christian sects. In the Course Jesus reinterprets both the crucifixion and the resurrection. He teaches that not only is the body nothing, but death is nothing as well. If the death of the body is nothing, the crucifixion could not accomplish anything. It is, as Jesus tells us in the text, only a teaching device (T.6.I.2).

The phrase you quote must be understood in terms of the principles of the Course’s teaching of the Atonement, and the content, not the form, of the historical resurrection. In this light the essential message of each is “nothing happened!” They both teach: “there is no death” (W.pI.163), “there is no sin”(T.26.VII.10:5), “attack has no effect” (T.12.V.2:2). In this sense Jesus’ resurrection, along with ours, is awakening to the awareness of our true Identity as God’s innocent Son, which the Course teaches is the Atonement. In the statement you cite, Jesus gives us the message intended in his resurrection. It is the message of the Atonement, beautifully expressed with Easter symbols in the Holy Week section of the text: “This week begins with palms and ends with lilies, the white and holy sign the Son of God is innocent. Let no dark sign of crucifixion intervene between the journey and its purpose; between the acceptance of the truth and its expression. This week we celebrate life, not death. And we honor the perfect purity of the Son of God, and not his sins” (T.20.I.2:1,2,3,4).

It is important to remember that Christianity teaches the resurrection of Jesus’ body, while in the Course Jesus tells us it is the condition of the mind when it accepts the Atonement: “Very simply, the resurrection is the overcoming or surmounting of death. It is a reawakening or a rebirth; a change of mind about the meaning of the world. It is the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world’s purpose; the acceptance of the Atonement for oneself” (M.28.1:1,2,3).


Q #1342: I’ve been studying A Course in Miracles for a number of years, but recently I have started to feel sad or anxious because the activities that once made me feel excited about life and engaged in living now seem flat or empty. I see friends and coworkers going about their lives improving themselves, going back to school for another graduate degree or planning trips to interesting places, and I can’t find that enthusiasm in myself for much of anything. Today I noticed that I felt “left out” of things, like I was watching life from the sidelines. At times I have tried joining in, but I can’t quite get into it like I used to. Much of the time I feel quiet inside and happy for others. Yet, at other times I find myself searching for something to throw myself into. There is a kind of desperate quality to the search. Could what I’m experiencing be an example of the “period of undoing” referred to in the manual for teachers? Is it expected to go back and forth between peacefulness and agitation?

A: What you describe is very common with students who have been studying and practicing the Course for a while. You will notice some parallels in Questions #599, #971, and #1115; and you may find our discussions there supportive as you work through this phase of your spiritual journey. More than likely you are experiencing the effects of your willingness to undo your ego. When you are driven to find something in the world to throw yourself into, you probably are responding to a sense of lack and emptiness coming from your decision to let go of your ego. Shifting away from what you have identified with and valued all your life (W.pI.133) understandably can result in fear and panic, along with peace and relief because you are no longer fighting against the truth of who you are. So it is quite normal to feel desperate at times and then attempt to quell the storm by dropping another anchor in the familiar world. Moreover, as you shift your attention from the outer world to the inner, you would naturally feel different about the activities that formerly gave you pleasure, satisfaction, happy anticipation, etc. You are no longer firmly grounded in that world — a good thing! — but you are not yet firmly grounded in the inner world, and as a result, you would tend to feel suspended between the two.

As you settle into your new role of being a happy learner (T.14.II), however, you will find that there is a way to engage in activities without the highs and lows that characterized your participation before. Once you give your day the single purpose of being a classroom in which to learn the lessons that would help you awaken from the dream, you will find yourself simply doing the things you need to do, but with less intensity and more peace. You can still enjoy television and movies, traveling, sports, or anything else that has been part of your life, but there would be a different feel to those experiences now. You have to do something; you have to eat something; you have to take care of your body; you have to interact with people, and so on; but you would go about everything differently now, in the sense that you would not take any of it as seriously as you used to. You would try to see all of your interactions as the means of learning that we all share the same interests. This would actually make your interactions more meaningful — even exciting, from the point of view of knowing this is helping you on your path back to God. The form of your activities would thus come to express the content in your mind. Your friends might not notice any difference, other than that you are more peaceful and light-hearted (W.pI.155.1), but you will be experiencing everything in your life from a new perspective, having chosen a new teacher who will help you see and judge everything through his eyes.

Finally, as you continue this process of forgiveness, the bouncing back and forth between your wrong and right mind will become less and less of a disturbance as you recognize the connection between undoing your ego and remembering to laugh at the “tiny, mad idea” (T.27.VIII.6:2). Your fear and resistance will become familiar to you and not be more than minor detours from which you will calmly find your way back to your chosen path and teacher.

teach not that i died in vain


ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 20

ACIM Text Reading for January 20

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

IX. The Meaning of the Last Judgment
One of the ways in which you can correct the magic-miracle confusion is to remember that you did not create yourself. You are apt to forget this when you become egocentric, and this puts you in a position where a belief in magic is virtually inevitable. Your will to create was given you by your Creator, Who was expressing the same Will in His creation. Since creative ability rests in the mind, everything you create is necessarily a matter of will. It also follows that whatever you alone make is real in your own sight, though not in the Mind of God. This basic distinction leads directly into the real meaning of the Last Judgment.

The Last Judgment is one of the most threatening ideas in your thinking. This is because you do not understand it. Judgment is not an attribute of God. It was brought into being only after the separation, when it became one of the many learning devices to be built into the overall plan. Just as the separation occurred over millions of years, the Last Judgment will extend over a similarly long period, and perhaps an even longer one. Its length can, however, be greatly shortened by miracles, the device for shortening but not abolishing time. If a sufficient number become truly miracle-minded, this shortening process can be virtually immeasurable. It is essential, however, that you free yourself quickly, because you must emerge from the conflict if you are to bring peace to other minds.

The Last Judgment is generally thought of as a procedure undertaken by God. Actually it will be undertaken by my brothers with my help. It is a final healing rather than a meting out of punishment, however much you may think that punishment is deserved. Punishment is a concept totally opposed to right-mindedness, and the aim of the Last Judgment is to restore right-mindedness to you. The Last Judgment might be called a process of right evaluation. It simply means that everyone will finally come to understand what is worthy and what is not. After this, the ability to choose can be directed rationally. Until this distinction is made, however, the vacillations between free and imprisoned will cannot but continue.

The first step toward freedom involves a sorting out of the false from the true. This is a process of separation in the constructive sense, and reflects the true meaning of the Apocalypse. Everyone will ultimately look upon his own creations and choose to preserve only what is good, just as God Himself looked upon what He had created and knew that it was good. At this point, the mind can begin to look with love on its own creations because of their worthiness. At the same time the mind will inevitably disown its miscreations which, without belief, will no longer exist.

The term “Last Judgment” is frightening not only because it has been projected onto God, but also because of the association of “last” with death. This is an outstanding example of upside-down perception. If the meaning of the Last Judgment is objectively examined, it is quite apparent that it is really the doorway to life. No one who lives in fear is really alive. Your own last judgment cannot be directed toward yourself, because you are not your own creation. You can, however, apply it meaningfully and at any time to everything you have made, and retain in your memory only what is creative and good. This is what your right-mindedness cannot but dictate. The purpose of time is solely to “give you time” to achieve this judgment. It is your own perfect judgment of your own perfect creations. When everything you retain is lovable, there is no reason for fear to remain with you. This is your part in the Atonement.


ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 20

Lesson 20
I am determined to see.

We have been quite casual about our practice periods thus far. There has been virtually no attempt to direct the time for undertaking them, minimal effort has been required, and not even active cooperation and interest have been asked. This approach has been intentional, and very carefully planned. We have not lost sight of the crucial importance of the reversal of your thinking. The salvation of the world depends on it. Yet you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced, and if you give in to resentment and opposition.

This is our first attempt to introduce structure. Do not misconstrue it as an effort to exert force or pressure. You want salvation. You want to be happy. You want peace. You do not have them now, because your mind is totally undisciplined, and you cannot distinguish between joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, love and fear. You are now learning how to tell them apart. And great indeed will be your reward.

Your decision to see is all that vision requires. What you want is yours. Do not mistake the little effort that is asked of you for an indication that our goal is of little worth. Can the salvation of the world be a trivial purpose? And can the world be saved if you are not? God has one Son, and he is the resurrection and the life. His will is done because all power is given him in Heaven and on earth. In your determination to see is vision given you.

The exercises for today consist in reminding yourself throughout the day that you want to see. Today’s idea also tacitly implies the recognition that you do not see now. Therefore, as you repeat the idea, you are stating that you are determined to change your present state for a better one, and one you really want.

Repeat today’s idea slowly and positively at least twice an hour today, attempting to do so every half hour. Do not be distressed if you forget to do so, but make a real effort to remember. The extra repetitions should be applied to any situation, person or event that upsets you. You can see them differently, and you will. What you desire you will see. Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world.


ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1223: I had an experience of God recently that I don’t know how to connect with my work with A Course in Miracles . Briefly, here is what happened. My cat, Ben, became seriously ill, and I was terribly upset. After leaving Ben in the care of the veterinarian, I returned home, still very anxious, and I found myself repeating, “Please forgive me, Ben, I am so very sorry.” I did this for hours, as if compelled to. Then I became aware that I was directing this to myself — that I was sorry to the core of my being for the harm I had done to myself over many years of abuse. Then came a powerful feeling that I was not alone. I experienced this as God, and for the first time in my life I felt alive and real. The power of His presence was beyond words. I was nothing; but I was everything. Fear did not exist, and there was a realization of beauty in death and in all things. This lasted for the weekend, but after that I felt very vulnerable, and my defenses built up again. I am still seeking to recover that feeling of being so real and alive.

A: Without knowing a great deal more about you, it is difficult to for us to say what all of this means for you specifically. We can simply point out a few concepts and teachings in the Course that we hope will be of help.

First, Jesus reminds us that we are “very new to the ways of salvation” (T.17.9:1) , which means if a profound experience does not last, such as the one you had, then it can serve the purpose of showing us what our permanent experience will be as we continue to get in touch with the interferences that must still be operating in our minds. He describes this in another place in the text in terms of light and darkness: “… the journey into darkness has been long and cruel, and you have gone deep into it. A little flicker of your eyelids, closed so long, has not yet been sufficient to give you confidence in yourself, so long despised” (T.18.III.3:3,4). The experience you had seems to be much more than “a little flicker of your eyelids,” but that assessment is from our point of view, not from where Jesus is outside the dream. It may be helpful to read this entire section, “Light in the Dream,” as you will see there that Jesus is very encouraging, and is basically saying that our unconscious fear of total release causes us to retreat back into darkness after we glimpse the light. He assures us that we will succeed, however: “But you will advance, because your goal is the advance from fear to truth” (T.18.III.2:2). Notice, though, that in this section Jesus does not advise us to concentrate on God, but rather on our relationships — looking for grievances we are holding onto, or something else that would keep us separate from others — perhaps feeling that some people do not deserve to experience God’s Love and peace. Our fear of release is expressed that way, and therefore if we focus on becoming aware of what is keeping us separate from others, and then look at all that with Jesus or the Holy Spirit (which means without judgment), we will be letting go of what is blocking our awareness of God’s love and peace that is reflected in our right minds. Patience and gentleness are essential as you proceed with this process.


Q #1050: After reading fully the text of A Course in Miracles and committing myself to the students’ program for a year, I find myself in a position of “belief,” but want to go to the level of “knowledge.” I ask for something to show me that I am on the right path, that I am going in the right direction. I have looked at the various aspects of my life, be it career, creative projects, or relationships, and all things seem at a standstill. I let go and give the future to God to lead me….and nothing happens……I have worked through being anxious about the future and ask that what I feel inside be reflected on the outside somehow, but, there does not seem to be congruency. I want so much to have my beliefs validated because I don’t want to believe that God would withhold happiness and fulfillment from one of his Sons who wants so much to be joined with Him.

A: In the simplicity of its message, the Course offers only one path for its students: the practice of forgiveness. This will lead to knowledge, which lies beyond forgiveness and beyond any path. The one-year study program of the workbook is only the beginning of a lifetime of practice: “This course is a beginning, not an end” (W.ep.1:1) . So, although the Course is a “fast track,” the process of applying its teachings to our lives is a slow road that requires patience and practice. The process is slow only because resistance is great, and attachment to the ego’s belief system is deeper than we think. That is why Jesus repeats his message in many different ways throughout the Course.

What seems to be a lack of congruency in your process, therefore, is only evidence of the inevitable resistance. This is no cause for distress. Jesus acknowledges our resistance and recommends that we proceed gently and patiently. He assures us that God is not withholding anything from His Son. Nothing is missing in the equation of oneness; rather, something has been added that blocks awareness of the oneness: the decision to be a separate self. The mind’s choice to believe in separation is the only thing that keeps knowledge of our oneness with God from awareness. Thus, the way to return to knowledge and love, is to accept the mind’s healing of the thought of separation through forgiveness. That is all we are asked to do. Jesus tells us the plan will not fail because its success lies in the power of the mind that chose separation, and can choose differently: God’s guarantee will hold against all obstacles, for it rests on certainty and not contingency. It rests on you (T.20.IV.8:10,11).

To further lighten our burden, we are not asked to evaluate our progress. In fact, Jesus tells us : “Put yourself not in charge of this, for you cannot distinguish between advance and retreat. Some of your greatest advances you have judged as failures, and some of your deepest retreats you have evaluated as success (T.18.V.1:5,6) . Clearly, then, we are most gentle with ourselves if we agree to proceed calmly in the simple, though not easy, practice of forgiveness. Diligence in this practice is what will make the inner and outer more congruent, as every relationship and experience in daily life become opportunities to apply the principles of the Course’s teaching, thereby unifying their purpose in service of a single goal. Having found the right path and a curriculum that guarantees results, the only thing to do is stay with the program. The pace of the learning process is commensurate with willingness to look at the ego’s arsenal of resistance techniques without judging them. Jesus offers encouraging words to every student of his Course: “If the way seems long, let him be content. He has decided on the direction he wants to take. What more was asked of him? And having done what was required, would God withhold the rest?” (M.22.2:6,7,8,9).

health is inner peace