ACIM Text Reading for January 8
Chapter 1 ~ The Meaning of Miracles
IV. The Escape from Darkness
The escape from darkness involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness cannot hide. This step usually entails fear. Second, the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide even if you could. This step brings escape from fear. When you have become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter into communion but will also understand peace and joy.
Holiness can never be really hidden in darkness, but you can deceive yourself about it. This deception makes you fearful because you realize in your heart it is a deception, and you exert enormous efforts to establish its reality. The miracle sets reality where it belongs. Reality belongs only to spirit, and the miracle acknowledges only truth. It thus dispels illusions about yourself, and puts you in communion with yourself and God. The miracle joins in the Atonement by placing the mind in the service of the Holy Spirit. This establishes the proper function of the mind and corrects its errors, which are merely lacks of love. Your mind can be possessed by illusions, but spirit is eternally free. If a mind perceives without love, it perceives an empty shell and is unaware of the spirit within. But the Atonement restores spirit to its proper place. The mind that serves spirit is invulnerable.
Darkness is lack of light as sin is lack of love. It has no unique properties of its own. It is an example of the “scarcity” belief, from which only error can proceed. Truth is always abundant. Those who perceive and acknowledge that they have everything have no needs of any kind. The purpose of the Atonement is to restore everything to you; or rather, to restore it to your awareness. You were given everything when you were created, just as everyone was.
The emptiness engendered by fear must be replaced by forgiveness. That is what the Bible means by “There is no death”, and why I could demonstrate that death does not exist. I came to fulfill the law by reinterpreting it. The law itself, if properly understood, offers only protection. It is those who have not yet changed their minds who brought the “hell-fire” concept into it. I assure you that I will witness for anyone who lets me, and to whatever extent he permits it. Your witnessing demonstrates your belief, and thus strengthens it. Those who witness for me are expressing, through their miracles, that they have abandoned the belief in deprivation in favor of the abundance they have learned belongs to them.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 8
My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.
This idea is, of course, the reason why you see only the past. No one really sees anything. He sees only his thoughts projected outward. The mind’s preoccupation with the past is the cause of the misconception about time from which your seeing suffers. Your mind cannot grasp the present, which is the only time there is. It therefore cannot understand time, and cannot, in fact, understand anything.
The one wholly true thought one can hold about the past is that it is not here. To think about it at all is therefore to think about illusions. Very few have realized what is actually entailed in picturing the past or in anticipating the future. The mind is actually blank when it does this, because it is not really thinking about anything.
The purpose of the exercises for today is to begin to train your mind to recognize when it is not really thinking at all. While thoughtless ideas preoccupy your mind, the truth is blocked. Recognizing that your mind has been merely blank, rather than believing that it is filled with real ideas, is the first step to opening the way to vision.
The exercises for today should be done with eyes closed. This is because you actually cannot see anything, and it is easier to recognize that no matter how vividly you may picture a thought, you are not seeing anything. With as little investment as possible, search your mind for the usual minute or so, merely noting the thoughts you find there. Name each one by the central figure or theme it contains, and pass on to the next. Introduce the practice period by saying:
I seem to be thinking about ___.
Then name each of your thoughts specifically, for example:
I seem to be thinking about [name of a person], about [name of an object], about [name of an emotion],
and so on, concluding at the end of the mind-searching period with:
But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.
This can be done four or five times during the day, unless you find it irritates you. If you find it trying, three or four times is sufficient. You might find it helpful, however, to include your irritation, or any emotion that the idea for today may induce, in the mind searching itself.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1357: In the text of A Course in Miracles Jesus tells us to ask him before we perform a miracle (T.1.III.4:3). I don’t understand what I would do that would require me to ask Jesus if I should do it. Is there another process that I will be doing in the future that I don’t understand yet?
A: The central theme of the early principles and the first chapter in the text that you refer to is that miracles shift our perception, and that is why they heal. The focus of our attention, however, is almost always on our bodies — our planning and activities almost always center on what is good or not good for bodies. Therefore, right at the beginning of the text Jesus begins to train us to focus differently — not on our bodies, but on the choices we are making in our minds, because those choices are the root of both our problems and their solution. Later he thus urges us, “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7) .
The primary means of changing our focus from the external to the internal in the early stages of our work with the Course is to learn to ask Jesus’ help before we act. This gradually gets us out of the habit of assuming we know what is best for ourselves and others — that we know which miracles to perform, in other words. Thus, it not so much about doing something, but about gradually learning to focus on the purpose we have chosen in our minds for what we are doing. Jesus is teaching us that what we do is not important in terms of our spiritual journey; it is the choice of teacher we have made in our minds to guide us in what we do that is important. That choice, and that choice alone, is what will keep us asleep in the dream of separation from God or help us realize that we are the dreamers of that dream, which will eventually lead us to awaken from it entirely.
Q #997: Toward the beginning of the text, Jesus says that miracles are directed toward those who can “use them for themselves” and he also comments that only he is in a position to know “where they can be bestowed.” What I don’t get is: Aren’t they needed everywhere? Couldn’t everyone walking this earth in pain use miracles for themselves? Jesus seems to hint that only some people need miracles. Can you explain?
A: When reading A Course in Miracles , it is very helpful to remember that Jesus frequently speaks to us in a poetic, symbolic way. Taken out of context, his words can, at times, seem to contradict the overall message of the Course. However, the more we study the Course, the clearer it becomes that he is not contradicting himself but rather restating the same themes over and over again with slight variations, hoping that, at some point, what he is trying to tell us will sink in. With that in mind, let us take a look at the two statements you asked about.
Both of these statements come in Chapter 1 when Jesus is explaining what he means by the term miracle . Most of us have always thought of miracles as an extraordinary event in the external, physical world. Jesus lets us know that in the context of the Course, a miracle is solely a shift in perception from the ego’s thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, to the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness. In other words, a miracle is an entirely internal event happening only in the mind and having nothing to do with the world. Miracles may seem to have results in this world, but this is a reflection of the miracle, or changed thinking, not the miracle itself.
You are right that anyone who believes that he or she is here could use a miracle. That, in fact, is exactly what Jesus is trying to tell us. When he says, “Miracles are selective only in the sense that they are directed towards those who can use them for themselves” (T.1.III.9:1), he is not implying that miracles are available only to some people. Indeed, he implies exactly the opposite by beginning the sentence with “miracles are selective only in the sense…” He is letting us know that there is just one sense in which miracles are not universal, and that is in the form the miracle or correction takes within our thinking.
While the content of a miracle is always a shift from thoughts that project guilt to thoughts that extend love, the specific correction thought will always show up in our mind in a way ideally suited to remedy the specific thought that made correction necessary. For example, I may need to forgive an abusive parent while you may need to forgive a partner by whom you felt betrayed. Both of us, in the midst of our pain, could turn to Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our mind and ask to see things differently. Both of us would then find ourselves accessing forgiveness thoughts that applied to our specific struggle. If we wanted to get technical, we could say that even within our own thinking, the form the correction seems to take is really the reflection of the miracle or shift, not the miracle itself. But this is more technically precise than Jesus needed to be at this point in the text.
Jesus also states, “That the miracle may have effects on your brothers that you may not recognize is not your concern. … 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.” (T.1.III.8:1, 4, 5). He is not implying that there are people who do not need miracles. He is simply telling us that although the miracle is a shift in our mind, we should not try to control miracles, decide when they are needed, or determine how they will express themselves. We should ask him, as our wiser internal teacher, to make such decisions.
Again, A Course in Miracles becomes much easier to understand if we approach it like poetry or a symphony rather than a precise, scientific report. When we focus too heavily on the words, the Course can seem (to borrow Jesus’ imagery) like nothing more than scattered threads of melody. But when we join with him — moving beyond its words to connect with the love that inspired them — we will see how those scattered threads of melody form one inclusive chorus (T.31.VIII.11:5) .