ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 4

ACIM Text Reading for January 4

A Course in Miracles

I. Principles of Miracles

  1. There is no order of difficulty in miracles. One is not “harder” or “bigger” than another. They are all the same. All expressions of love are maximal.

2. Miracles as such do not matter. The only thing that matters is their Source, Which is far beyond evaluation.

3. Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.

4. All miracles mean life, and God is the Giver of life. His Voice will direct you very specifically. You will be told all you need to know.

5. Miracles are habits, and should be involuntary. They should not be under conscious control. Consciously selected miracles can be misguided.

6. Miracles are natural. When they do not occur something has gone wrong.

7. Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first.

8. Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less.

9. Miracles are a kind of exchange. Like all expressions of love, which are always miraculous in the true sense, the exchange reverses the physical laws. They bring more love both to the giver and the receiver.

10. The use of miracles as spectacles to induce belief is a misunderstanding of their purpose.

11. Prayer is the medium of miracles. It is a means of communication of the created with the Creator. Through prayer love is received, and through miracles love is expressed.

12. Miracles are thoughts. Thoughts can represent the lower or bodily level of experience, or the higher or spiritual level of experience. One makes the physical, and the other creates the spiritual.

13. Miracles are both beginnings and endings, and so they alter the temporal order. They are always affirmations of rebirth, which seem to go back but really go forward. They undo the past in the present, and thus release the future.

14. Miracles bear witness to truth. They are convincing because they arise from conviction. Without conviction they deteriorate into magic, which is mindless and therefore destructive; or rather, the uncreative use of mind.

15. Each day should be devoted to miracles. The purpose of time is to enable you to learn how to use time constructively. It is thus a teaching device and a means to an end. Time will cease when it is no longer useful in facilitating learning.

16. Miracles are teaching devices for demonstrating it is as blessed to give as to receive. They simultaneously increase the strength of the giver and supply strength to the receiver.

17. Miracles transcend the body. They are sudden shifts into invisibility, away from the bodily level. That is why they heal.

18. A miracle is a service. It is the maximal service you can render to another. It is a way of loving your neighbor as yourself. You recognize your own and your neighbor’s worth simultaneously.

19. Miracles make minds one in God. They depend on cooperation, because the Sonship is the sum of all that God created. Miracles therefore reflect the laws of eternity, not of time.

20. Miracles reawaken the awareness that the spirit, not the body, is the altar of truth. This is the recognition that leads to the healing power of the miracle.

21. Miracles are natural signs of forgiveness. Through miracles you accept God’s forgiveness by extending it to others.

22. Miracles are associated with fear only because of the belief that darkness can hide. You believe that what your physical eyes cannot see does not exist. This leads to a denial of spiritual sight.

23. Miracles rearrange perception and place all levels in true perspective. This is healing because sickness comes from confusing the levels.

24. Miracles enable you to heal the sick and raise the dead because you made sickness and death yourself, and can therefore abolish both. You are a miracle, capable of creating in the likeness of your Creator. Everything else is your own nightmare, and does not exist. Only the creations of light are real.

25. Miracles are part of an interlocking chain of forgiveness which, when completed, is the Atonement. Atonement works all the time and in all the dimensions of time.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 4

Lesson 4
These thoughts do not mean anything.
They are like the things I see in this room
[on this street, from this window, in this place].

Unlike the preceding ones, these exercises do not begin with the idea for the day. In these practice periods, begin with noting the thoughts that are crossing your mind for about a minute. Then apply the idea to them. If you are already aware of unhappy thoughts, use them as subjects for the idea. Do not, however, select only the thoughts you think are “bad.” You will find, if you train yourself to look at your thoughts, that they represent such a mixture that, in a sense, none of them can be called “good” or “bad.” This is why they do not mean anything.

In selecting the subjects for the application of today’s idea, the usual specificity is required. Do not be afraid to use “good” thoughts as well as “bad.” None of them represents your real thoughts, which are being covered up by them. The “good” ones are but shadows of what lies beyond, and shadows make sight difficult. The “bad” ones are blocks to sight, and make seeing impossible. You do not want either.

This is a major exercise, and will be repeated from time to time in somewhat different form. The aim here is to train you in the first steps toward the goal of separating the meaningless from the meaningful. It is a first attempt in the long-range purpose of learning to see the meaningless as outside you, and the meaningful within. It is also the beginning of training your mind to recognize what is the same and what is different.

In using your thoughts for application of the idea for today, identify each thought by the central figure or event it contains; for example:

This thought about ___ does not mean anything.
It is like the things I see in this room [on this street, and so on].

You can also use the idea for a particular thought that you recognize as harmful. This practice is useful, but is not a substitute for the more random procedures to be followed for the exercises. Do not, however, examine your mind for more than a minute or so. You are too inexperienced as yet to avoid a tendency to become pointlessly preoccupied.

Further, since these exercises are the first of their kind, you may find the suspension of judgment in connection with thoughts particularly difficult. Do not repeat these exercises more than three or four times during the day. We will return to them later.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

#13: What do you think the phrase “purification is necessary first” means?

A: Since this seventh miracle principle, “Miracles are everyone’s right, but purification is necessary first” (T.1.I.7:1) comes on page 3 of the text, students of A Course in Miracles may believe that Jesus is speaking about purification of the body. Students’ past experiences will bring to mind all of their beliefs about the meaning of the word “purification.” To some, this may mean the cleansing of the “soul” through baptism, or the atonement of sin through penance and sacrifice. To others, “purification” may have the connotation of ridding oneself of human desires through meditation and disciplined practices. Whatever one believes, their belief forms the foundation on which they begin to build their understanding of the “purification process.”

What a surprise to learn, as we make our way through the text, that Jesus is not speaking to us about purifying the body at all. He couldn’t be since the Course teaches that the body is an illusion. And being an illusion, there is nothing that we have to do to it or with it. The body does not need to be purified because it is not impure. “It does nothing…. it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing. (T.19.IV.C.5:3,4,5). What is impure are our thoughts, which means it is our thoughts that have to be purified, not the body. And the Course’s method of “purification” is forgiveness; forgiveness of the one thought of guilt which keeps us separate from the love of God. The Course’s “purification process” is illustrated in this quote:

“Give Him your thoughts, and He will give them back as miracles which joyously proclaim the wholeness and the happiness God wills His Son, as proof of His eternal Love. And as each thought is thus transformed, it takes on healing power from the Mind Which saw the truth in it, and failed to be deceived by what was falsely added [guilt]. All the threads of fantasy are gone. And what remains is unified into a perfect Thought that offers its perfection everywhere (W.pI.151.14).

*

Q #1: It seems that at some point all theologies converge, and in so doing, they leave behind their individual forms and become pure Truth. I am having trouble dealing with this because – it implies that the Christian forms of the Course are … (forgive me) … disposable and temporary. Knowing this I sometimes find myself becoming impatient with the continuous anthropomorphism of the text, and wish it would be more direct. Needless to say, this interferes with my personal progress, though not with my reverence. In your experience is this a common phenomenon? Does it pass with time? Is it just an ego-strategy? How should I handle it?

A: The Course’s Christian context has been a problem for students right from the beginning, and they have raised the same important question you have. To restate and slightly expand your question, why does a universal message have to come in such a specific religious framework? And does that not inevitably breed further separation, at the same time denying the universality of the specific religion?

Indeed, the Christian language of A Course in Miracles, not to mention the presence of Jesus throughout the material, can pose a great challenge to many students. If their ego is looking for a way to invalidate the material, or throw up obstacles to learning, then Jesus and Christianity can be helpful allies in this battle against the truth. On the other hand, asking the Holy Spirit for help can introduce yet another classroom in which forgiveness of our specialness can happily be learned.

While one would never want to restrict A Course in Miracles to a particular cultural group, it can nonetheless be said that in the main it is directed towards a Western audience. Its language, cultural expressions, and Freudian, Platonic, and Shakespearean elements, all speak to a reader comfortable within the Western tradition. And it can certainly be said that the predominant influence in the Western world for the past 2000 years has been Christianity, with Jesus clearly being the dominant figure, either as symbol of the love of Heaven, or the special love (and hate) of the ego. And so there could not be a Western student — Christian, Jew, agnostic, or atheist — who in one way or another has not been affected by Jesus or the religions that have evolved in his name. Thus the Christian framework of A Course in Miracles provides a natural opportunity for students to practice forgiveness of their past experiences.

In the end, of course, all specific symbols disappear into the Oneness of God. But until that day arrives, we need specifics to be the little steps of forgiveness we take towards attaining the non-dualistic reality that lies beyond all dualistic concepts and beyond all symbols. As the workbook says: “God will take this final step Himself. Do not deny the little steps He asks you take to Him” (W.pI.193.13:6,7). Thus, the Christian anthropomorphisms reflect our own anthropomorphic view of ourselves, since in truth we are not bodies or specific persons, but non-human thoughts in the mind. However, as long as we identify with the specific person whose image we see every morning in the bathroom mirror, then, again, we need a learning curriculum that uses specific symbols that meet us in the condition in which we think we exist (T.25.I.7:4). Christianity provides us with one of those sets of symbols, and for the opportunity it offers we should all be grateful.

there is nothing to fear

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