ACIM Text Reading for January 11
A Course in Miracles ~ The Meaning of Miracles
VII. Distortions of Miracle Impulses
Your distorted perceptions produce a dense cover over miracle impulses, making it hard for them to reach your own awareness. The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses is a major perceptual distortion. Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. All real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will. This is because not doing it is a denial of Self. Denial of Self results in illusions, while correction of the error brings release from it. Do not deceive yourself into believing that you can relate in peace to God or to your brothers with anything external.
Child of God, you were created to create the good, the beautiful and the holy. Do not forget this. The Love of God, for a little while, must still be expressed through one body to another, because vision is still so dim. You can use your body best to help you enlarge your perception so you can achieve real vision, of which the physical eye is incapable. Learning to do this is the body’s only true usefulness.
Fantasy is a distorted form of vision. Fantasies of any kind are distortions, because they always involve twisting perception into unreality. Actions that stem from distortions are literally the reactions of those who know not what they do. Fantasy is an attempt to control reality according to false needs. Twist reality in any way and you are perceiving destructively. Fantasies are a means of making false associations and attempting to obtain pleasure from them. But although you can perceive false associations, you can never make them real except to yourself. You believe in what you make. If you offer miracles, you will be equally strong in your belief in them. The strength of your conviction will then sustain the belief of the miracle receiver. Reality is “lost” through usurpation, which produces tyranny. As long as a single “slave” remains to walk the earth, your release is not complete. Complete restoration of the Sonship is the only goal of the miracle-minded.
This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it. However, as you study these earlier sections, you will begin to see some of the implications that will be amplified later on.
A solid foundation is necessary because of the confusion between fear and awe to which I have already referred, and which is often made. I have said that awe is inappropriate in connection with the Sons of God, because you should not experience awe in the presence of your equals. However, it was also emphasized that awe is proper in the Presence of your Creator. I have been careful to clarify my role in the Atonement without either over or understating it. I am also trying to do the same with yours. I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God Himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific. Healing is of God in the end. The means are being carefully explained to you. Revelation may occasionally reveal the end to you, but to reach it the means are needed.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 11
My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.
This is the first idea we have had that is related to a major phase of the correction process; the reversal of the thinking of the world. It seems as if the world determines what you perceive. Today’s idea introduces the concept that your thoughts determine the world you see. Be glad indeed to practice the idea in its initial form, for in this idea is your release made sure. The key to forgiveness lies in it.
The practice periods for today’s idea are to be undertaken somewhat differently from the previous ones. Begin with your eyes closed, and repeat the idea slowly to yourself. Then open your eyes and look about, near and far, up and down, —anywhere. During the minute or so to be spent in using the idea merely repeat it to yourself, being sure to do so without haste, and with no sense of urgency or effort.
To do these exercises for maximum benefit, the eyes should move from one thing to another fairly rapidly, since they should not linger on anything in particular. The words, however, should be used in an unhurried, even leisurely fashion. The introduction to this idea, in particular, should be practiced as casually as possible. It contains the foundation for the peace, relaxation and freedom from worry that we are trying to achieve. On concluding the exercises, close your eyes and repeat the idea once more slowly to yourself.
Three practice periods today will probably be sufficient. However, if there is little or no uneasiness and an inclination to do more, as many as five may be undertaken. More than this is not recommended.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #344: In A Course in Miracles T.1.VII.1 it reads…” Your distorted perceptions produce a dense cover over miracle impulses, making it hard for them to reach your own awareness. The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses is a major perceptual distortion. Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. All real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will. This is because not doing it is a denial of Self.” I read a similar question/answer already posted around sexual impulses…but my questions are slightly different and I need some help understanding these series of phrases referenced above: Is this a different way of saying that the decision-maker constantly is choosing between the right-mind and the wrong-mind, the Holy Spirit and the ego? If a miracle is forgiveness, or a reminder that what the body’s eyes see/perceive is false, then is a miracle impulse part of a corrective thought process from the Jesus/Holy Spirit in our mind?
A: Yes, your explanation is a good one. It may still be helpful to clarify why Jesus refers to “physical impulses” as “misdirected miracle impulses” and how our “distorted perceptions… cover over miracle impulses.” We were created to be in perfect joy without ceasing, and the split mind, despite its mistaken beliefs about who it is, still remembers that state of happiness indirectly, primarily through its acute awareness that it is desperately unhappy. And so it is impelled to seek to return to a state of peace and joy, our natural state.
The miracle impulse, or the tendency to choose a miracle, is motivated by the recognition that we are unhappy in our current state of apparent separation and deserve more than what we are presently experiencing. But more than that, the miracle leads to a recognition that the deprivation that we feel is self-imposed, that is, it reflects a choice we have made. The miracle is a natural tendency of the mind, for it is a step in returning the mind to its original state of wholeness and peace, with all conflict left behind. The miracle reminds the mind that it is mind, or cause, and not a body, or effect (T.28.II.9:3). So miracle impulses are thoughts of the Correction, which the Holy Spirit represents to us in our right mind, that remind us that what we think has happened — the separation from love and all the accompanying pain and guilt — has not really happened at all. And that recognition, when fully embraced, must spell the end for the ego and its symbolic expression, our individual self.
So the ego, unable to remove what motivates the miracle impulse — our desire to return to our natural state of peace and joy — must distort and disguise the impulse so that we fail to remember our role in what we are experiencing. For if we truly remembered, we would not remain identified with the ego and separation for long. And so, to prevent our changing our mind, the ego does not ask us to deny our state of unhappiness, but through its distorted perceptual lens, convinces us that our unhappiness has nothing to do with any choice we have made but rather is the result of being born a helpless body into a world over which we have no control. And so the ego acknowledges our unhappiness and the conflict we feel, but guides us to look outside ourselves — to others, to the world — rather than within to find the joy and the peace and the love. And the search is destined to fail because it denies Who we really are and what our real Source of happiness is. Nevertheless, when we seek for pleasure in any form for the body, which we mistakenly identify as ourselves, the seeking is still motivated by a recognition — albeit unconscious — that happiness is our natural state. This is the same recognition from which the miracle impulse arises, but the seeking is misdirected. And all seeking in the world, because it reinforces our belief in separation, denying the only Identity in which real joy can be found, must in the end result in pain. Thus, Jesus concludes that “all real pleasure comes [only] from doing God’s Will.”
Q #1211: Could you please explain the following passage: “A solid foundation is necessary because of the confusion between fear and awe to which I have already referred, and which is often made. I have said that awe is inappropriate in connection with the Sons of God, because you should not experience awe in the presence of your equals. However, it was also emphasized that awe is proper in the Presence of your Creator. I have been careful to clarify my role in the Atonement without either over- or understating it. I am also trying to do the same with yours. I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific” (T.1.VII.5:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8).
A: Jesus first spoke of awe in the second section of Chapter 1, where he emphasized that it is not an appropriate reaction to him or to miracles: “You are a perfect creation, and should experience awe only in the Presence of the Creator of perfection. . . . Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality” (T.1.II.3:3,5). Jesus is thus setting the stage for developing a relationship with him, and correcting the traditional biblical view that he is God’s only beloved Son, and we are inferior to him. If we listen carefully to what he is saying and do what he says, we will learn to trust him as our loving brother, knowing that he is always there as a source of comfort and guidance in all things. We will be less and less afraid of him and his message as we learn he is simply reflecting back to us what we have denied about ourselves.
As we settle more into this relationship and become more comfortable with his message, we will be prepared for the steps he will ask us to take later. We just need to be humble and patient, and not try to jump quickly to the top of the spiritual ladder before we are really ready for that level. We will then be able to allow the memory of God into our awareness with a minimum amount of fear. It will feel more natural, and not something imposed on us. We will accept our love for Him as our Source and Creator, and His love for us as the extension of His Love. This awareness now inspires awe in us, as it should; but awe does not entail fear unless we still believe we are somehow separate from God.
Thus, at the very beginning of the text, Jesus is cautioning us not to rush our study and practice, and not try to make ourselves spiritual on our own. We must first learn how to deal with our egos and all the barriers we have erected between ourselves and God’s Presence. If we were ready to leap right back into Heaven, we would not be here thinking we are bodies in a real physical world. Patience, gentleness, humility, and trust are essential in these early stages of our work with A Course in Miracles .
Q #1348: Chapter 1 of A Course in Miracles says: “This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it…. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God Himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific” (T.1.VII.4:1,2,3; 5:7,6,7,8).
The above quote implies that doing the Course could in certain ways turn out to be more traumatic than helpful. How seriously should we take the above “warning” from the Course’s author to properly prepare before we start the later parts of the Course, and how would we know that we are indeed “properly prepared” in order not to fall into the trap of confusing “fear with awe”? For instance, if we study the first few chapters of the Course, when would we know that we should move on in the text and/or move perhaps on to the workbook? Aren’t the first few chapters so abstract that it is indeed difficult to understand them before the rest of the Course? What am I missing here?
A: The two paragraphs you are referring to did not originally come at the end of Chapter 1. They were part of a longer message to Helen and Bill in which Jesus stressed the importance of studying the material he was giving them (see Absence from Felicity , pp. 251,52). In one sense, this would be true of any teacher-student relationship — the teacher would urge the students to study what is being taught. Since the curriculum of A Course in Miracles involves mind training, it would be important to apply oneself diligently to the study of the material in order to be prepared for later stages in the mind training that build on the earlier ones.
Jesus essentially is talking about approaching God and experiencing His Love. We have many layers of defenses “protecting” us from the experience of God, lest we lose our cherished sense of independent existence. Therefore, the early phases of study and training establish a foundation for this process, and begin it in ways that we can tolerate without falling into a disabling panic. This prepares us for subsequent phases that bring us closer to the experience that we originally rejected and still reject in our choice to be separate and autonomous individuals. We need to become acquainted with the thought system we will be undoing and have some idea of the obstacles we have placed in our way, otherwise we will not be able to properly process what happens after the phase of undoing. That is why Jesus wants us to study the material carefully. By “carefully” he would mean that we realize that he is speaking directly to us as we experience ourselves now. He is not simply presenting a series ideas and concepts that we can approach in an impersonal way. He wants us to get used to thinking about ourselves as he describes us in his course.
Thus, it is more of an attitude toward your study, not so much comprehension of everything he is saying in these first few chapters. As you have observed, there are parts of these chapters (and all of the remaining chapters for that matter) that are difficult to understand, but he does not expect us to grasp every word and all of the implications of the ideas. That is why he comes back to the basic principles over and over and restates them in different ways throughout the three books. Thus, the aim is not intellectual mastery of the text, but rather, combined with a serious attempt to understand the thought system he is unfolding, that we recognize that we are embarking on a journey with him that will eventually penetrate deeply into areas of our lives and minds that we have sought to keep concealed. This is best done slowly and with a growing awareness that there is a loving, comforting presence within us inviting us to hold his hand every step of the way so that the journey will lead to a beatific experience.
Finally, it is helpful to remember that “the curriculum is highly individualized” (M.29.2:6). Therefore, with regard to when to begin the workbook lessons, trust what you feel and don’t force anything. There is no right or wrong in such matters.