ACIM Text Reading for January 7
Chapter 1 ~ The Meaning of Miracles
III. Atonement and Miracles
I am in charge of the process of Atonement, which I undertook to begin. When you offer a miracle to any of my brothers, you do it to yourself and me. The reason you come before me is that I do not need miracles for my own Atonement, but I stand at the end in case you fail temporarily. My part in the Atonement is the cancelling out of all errors that you could not otherwise correct. When you have been restored to the recognition of your original state, you naturally become part of the Atonement yourself. As you share my unwillingness to accept error in yourself and others, you must join the great crusade to correct it; listen to my voice, learn to undo error and act to correct it. The power to work miracles belongs to you. I will provide the opportunities to do them, but you must be ready and willing. Doing them will bring conviction in the ability, because conviction comes through accomplishment. The ability is the potential, the achievement is its expression, and the Atonement, which is the natural profession of the children of God, is the purpose.
“Heaven and earth shall pass away” means that they will not continue to exist as separate states. My word, which is the resurrection and the life, shall not pass away because life is eternal. You are the work of God, and His work is wholly lovable and wholly loving. This is how a man must think of himself in his heart, because this is what he is.
The forgiven are the means of the Atonement. Being filled with spirit, they forgive in return. Those who are released must join in releasing their brothers, for this is the plan of the Atonement. Miracles are the way in which minds that serve the Holy Spirit unite with me for the salvation or release of all of God’s creations.
I am the only one who can perform miracles indiscriminately, because I am the Atonement. You have a role in the Atonement which I will dictate to you. Ask me which miracles you should perform. This spares you needless effort, because you will be acting under direct communication. The impersonal nature of the miracle is an essential ingredient, because it enables me to direct its application, and under my guidance miracles lead to the highly personal experience of revelation. A guide does not control but he does direct, leaving it up to you to follow. “Lead us not into temptation” means “Recognize your errors and choose to abandon them by following my guidance”.
Error cannot really threaten truth, which can always withstand it. Only the error is actually vulnerable. You are free to establish your kingdom where you see fit, but the right choice is inevitable if you remember this:
Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever.
Atonement undoes all errors in this respect, and thus uproots the source of fear. Whenever you experience God’s reassurances as threat, it is always because you are defending misplaced or misdirected loyalty. When you project this to others you imprison them, but only to the extent to which you reinforce errors they have already made. This makes them vulnerable to the distortions of others, since their own perception of themselves is distorted. The miracle worker can only bless them, and this undoes their distortions and frees them from prison.
You respond to what you perceive, and as you perceive so shall you behave. The Golden Rule asks you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This means that the perception of both must be accurate. The Golden Rule is the rule for appropriate behavior. You cannot behave appropriately unless you perceive correctly. Since you and your neighbor are equal members of one family, as you perceive both so you will do to both. You should look out from the perception of your own holiness to the holiness of others.
Miracles arise from a mind that is ready for them. By being united this mind goes out to everyone, even without the awareness of the miracle worker himself. The impersonal nature of miracles is because the Atonement itself is one, uniting all creations with their Creator. As an expression of what you truly are, the miracle places the mind in a state of grace. The mind then naturally welcomes the Host within and the stranger without. When you bring in the stranger, he becomes your brother.
That the miracle may have effects on your brothers that you may not recognize is not your concern. The miracle will always bless you. Miracles you are not asked to perform have not lost their value. They are still expressions of your own state of grace, but the action aspect of the miracle should be controlled by me because of my complete awareness of the whole plan. The impersonal nature of miracle-mindedness ensures your grace, but only I am in a position to know where they can be bestowed.
Miracles are selective only in the sense that they are directed towards those who can use them for themselves. Since this makes it inevitable that they will extend them to others, a strong chain of Atonement is welded. However, this selectivity takes no account of the magnitude of the miracle itself, because the concept of size exists on a plane that is itself unreal. Since the miracle aims at restoring the awareness of reality, it would not be useful if it were bound by laws that govern the error it aims to correct.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 7
I see only the past.
This idea is particularly difficult to believe at first. Yet it is the rationale for all of the preceding ones.
It is the reason why nothing that you see means anything.
It is the reason why you have given everything you see all the meaning that it has for you.
It is the reason why you do not understand anything you see.
It is the reason why your thoughts do not mean anything, and why they are like the things you see.
It is the reason why you are never upset for the reason you think.
It is the reason why you are upset because you see something that is not there.
Old ideas about time are very difficult to change, because everything you believe is rooted in time, and depends on your not learning these new ideas about it. Yet that is precisely why you need new ideas about time. This first time idea is not really so strange as it may sound at first.
Look at a cup, for example. Do you see a cup, or are you merely reviewing your past experiences of picking up a cup, being thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling the rim of a cup against your lips, having breakfast and so on? Are not your aesthetic reactions to the cup, too, based on past experiences? How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it? What do you know about this cup except what you learned in the past? You would have no idea what this cup is, except for your past learning. Do you, then, really see it?
Look about you. This is equally true of whatever you look at. Acknowledge this by applying the idea for today indiscriminately to whatever catches your eye. For example:
I see only the past in this pencil.
I see only the past in this shoe.
I see only the past in this hand.
I see only the past in that body.
I see only the past in that face.
Do not linger over any one thing in particular, but remember to omit nothing specifically. Glance briefly at each subject, and then move on to the next. Three or four practice periods, each to last a minute or so, will be enough.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #966: “Miracles you are not asked to perform have not lost their value” (T.1.III.8:3). I cannot seem to grasp the meaning of this sentence, although I feel the meaning of the rest of the text in 8 and 9.
A: The basic idea is that the content is always there in our minds; it may not find expression right now, but it is never lost. There is a beautiful song-like rendering of this idea later in Chapter 5 — the first one of its kind in A Course in Miracles : “I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. They are beyond destruction and beyond guilt. They came from the Holy Spirit within you, and we know what God creates is eternal” (T.5.IV.8:3,4,5,6).
Q #259: This question has two parts. The first starts from an observation. As I have been advancing through the workbook, I have often found that the daily lesson corresponds uncannily with a need or preoccupation which has only just begun to make itself felt in my mind — as though some subtle synchronicity were at work between the unfolding Course and my own changing inner state. (This has also happened on occasions when reading the text). Do you think this is a frequent experience among students of A Course in Miracles? Maybe my first question goes some way to answering my second, but I’ll ask it anyway. In the workbook, Jesus frequently tells his student about how he or she is responding at that particular point. For example, in Lesson 123, he says, “Today let us be thankful.…There is no thought of turning back, and no implacable resistance to the truth. A bit of wavering remains, some small objections and a little hesitance…” (W.pI.123.1:1,3,4). But how can Jesus make such general pronouncements when referring to thousands of individuals, each with their own way of responding to and progressing with the Course?
A: With regard to the first question: Occasionally, we have had students relate experiences similar to the kind you described, but we have no way of knowing how common this type of experience is. Many students have said that when they were reading certain parts of the Course, they felt that Jesus was speaking very personally to them.
Second, as we know, most of what is written in the Course was given specifically to Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford for their personal spiritual process, and so the wording reflects that context. Jesus was helping Helen, in particular, with undoing what was left of her ego; so he would include comments, observations, gentle rebukes, emphatic directives, etc., that pertained to her personal process. At the same time, though, the Course can easily be understood as reflecting the more general pattern of spiritual advancement that applies to everyone. An excellent example of this are the six stages in the development of trust described in the manual for teachers (M.4.I.A). This discussion of the development of trust is meant to give us a general sense of what occurs during the process of undoing our ego.
It is not surprising that you would experience the kind of synchronicity that you describe. Recall that (a) time is not linear or real; (b) the content of the split mind never changes: the wrong mind is 100% ego — innumerable ways of expressing the one content of separation and sin, guilt, and fear; the right mind is 100% Holy Spirit — innumerable ways of accepting the Atonement through forgiveness; (c) having acceded to the ego’s strategy of making ourselves mindless, we are not aware of the full dimension of the content or dynamics in our minds. And we surely are not aware of the full content of each lesson Jesus gives us.
Thus, what we actually experience is almost always just a miniscule portion of what is going on in our minds, and is almost always in a defined form, rather than its original abstract nature — the tip of the iceberg, to switch metaphors. To simplify, as Jesus does, there is “only one problem, one solution” (W.pI.80.3:5); and we are either calling out for love or extending love. Therefore, our readiness and openness to learn from Jesus reflects the call for love in our minds, and it has already been answered. We would experience this process as something new that is happening as we read words in the workbook, when all it is is our mind’s decision to stop blocking the truth that is always there. It is a perfect match, you might say, between our call for love and the answer to that call, experienced in the only way that would be intelligible to us at that moment. It is a process that happens in our minds outside time and space; but because we are still identified with a body that seems to exist in time and space, that is how we will experience it. Jesus did not know “ahead of time” how his students would respond and what they would be ready for at any given instant. To think that is to make time real. The process is experienced in time, because that is the only form in which we (the decision-making part of ours minds) can accept the truth about ourselves. We are still too invested in our identities as separate, special beings, and too frightened to get beyond them. That is quite normal, and as we continue to practice forgiveness, we will be drawn more and more to the love that inspired the words of the Course that are so meaningful to us.