ACIM Text Reading for January 16
Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement
V. The Function of the Miracle Worker
Before miracle workers are ready to undertake their function in this world, it is essential that they fully understand the fear of release. Otherwise they may unwittingly foster the belief that release is imprisonment, a belief that is already very prevalent. This misperception arises in turn from the belief that harm can be limited to the body. That is because of the underlying fear that the mind can hurt itself. None of these errors is meaningful, because the miscreations of the mind do not really exist. This recognition is a far better protective device than any form of level confusion, because it introduces correction at the level of the error. It is essential to remember that only the mind can create, and that correction belongs at the thought level. To amplify an earlier statement, spirit is already perfect and therefore does not require correction. The body does not exist except as a learning device for the mind. This learning device is not subject to errors of its own, because it cannot create. It is obvious, then, that inducing the mind to give up its miscreations is the only application of creative ability that is truly meaningful.
Magic is the mindless or the miscreative use of mind. Physical medications are forms of “spells,” but if you are afraid to use the mind to heal, you should not attempt to do so. The very fact that you are afraid makes your mind vulnerable to miscreation. You are therefore likely to misunderstand any healing that might occur, and because egocentricity and fear usually occur together, you may be unable to accept the real Source of the healing. Under these conditions, it is safer for you to rely temporarily on physical healing devices, because you cannot misperceive them as your own creations. As long as your sense of vulnerability persists, you should not attempt to perform miracles.
I have already said that miracles are expressions of miracle-mindedness, and miracle-mindedness means right-mindedness. The right-minded neither exalt nor depreciate the mind of the miracle worker or the miracle receiver. However, as a correction, the miracle need not await the right-mindedness of the receiver. In fact, its purpose is to restore him to his right mind. It is essential, however, that the miracle worker be in his right mind, however briefly, or he will be unable to re-establish right-mindedness in someone else.
The healer who relies on his own readiness is endangering his understanding. You are perfectly safe as long as you are completely unconcerned about your readiness, but maintain a consistent trust in mine. If your miracle working inclinations are not functioning properly, it is always because fear has intruded on your right-mindedness and has turned it upside down. All forms of not-right-mindedness are the result of refusal to accept the Atonement for yourself. If you do accept it, you are in a position to recognize that those who need healing are simply those who have not realized that right-mindedness is healing.
The sole responsibility of the miracle worker is to accept the Atonement for himself. This means you recognize that mind is the only creative level, and that its errors are healed by the Atonement. Once you accept this, your mind can only heal. By denying your mind any destructive potential and reinstating its purely constructive powers, you place yourself in a position to undo the level confusion of others. The message you then give to them is the truth that their minds are similarly constructive, and their miscreations cannot hurt them. By affirming this you release the mind from over evaluating its own learning device, and restore the mind to its true position as the learner.
It should be emphasized again that the body does not learn any more than it creates. As a learning device it merely follows the learner, but if it is falsely endowed with self-initiative, it becomes a serious obstruction to the very learning it should facilitate. Only the mind is capable of illumination. Spirit is already illuminated and the body in itself is too dense. The mind, however, can bring its illumination to the body by recognizing that it is not the learner, and is therefore unamenable to learning. The body is, however, easily brought into alignment with a mind that has learned to look beyond it toward the light.
Corrective learning always begins with the awakening of spirit, and the turning away from the belief in physical sight. This often entails fear, because you are afraid of what your spiritual sight will show you. I said before that the Holy Spirit cannot see error, and is capable only of looking beyond it to the defense of Atonement. There is no doubt that this may produce discomfort, yet the discomfort is not the final outcome of the perception. When the Holy Spirit is permitted to look upon the defilement of the altar, he also looks immediately toward the Atonement. Nothing he perceives can induce fear. Everything that results from spiritual awareness is merely channelized toward correction. Discomfort is aroused only to bring the need for correction into awareness.
The fear of healing arises in the end from an unwillingness to accept unequivocally that healing is necessary. What the physical eye sees is not corrective, nor can error be corrected by any device that can be seen physically. As long as you believe in what your physical sight tells you, your attempts at correction will be misdirected. The real vision is obscured, because you cannot endure to see your own defiled altar. But since the altar has been defiled, your state becomes doubly dangerous unless it is perceived.
Healing is an ability that developed after the separation, before which it was unnecessary. Like all aspects of the belief in space and time, it is temporary. However, as long as time persists, healing is needed as a means of protection. This is because healing rests on charity, and charity is a way of perceiving the perfection of another even if you cannot perceive it in yourself. Most of the loftier concepts of which you are capable now are time-dependent. Charity is really a weaker reflection of a much more powerful love-encompassment that is far beyond any form of charity you can conceive of as yet. Charity is essential to right-mindedness in the limited sense in which it can now be attained.
Charity is a way of looking at another as if he had already gone far beyond his actual accomplishments in time. Since his own thinking is faulty he cannot see the Atonement for himself, or he would have no need of charity. The charity that is accorded him is both an acknowledgment that he needs help, and a recognition that he will accept it. Both of these perceptions clearly imply their dependence on time, making it apparent that charity still lies within the limitations of this world. I said before that only revelation transcends time. The miracle, as an expression of charity, can only shorten it. It must be understood, however, that whenever you offer a miracle to another, you are shortening the suffering of both of you. This corrects retroactively as well as progressively.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 16
I have no neutral thoughts.
The idea for today is a beginning step in dispelling the belief that your thoughts have no effect. Everything you see is the result of your thoughts. There is no exception to this fact. Thoughts are not big or little; powerful or weak. They are merely true or false. Those that are true create their own likeness. Those that are false make theirs.
There is no more self-contradictory concept than that of “idle thoughts.” What gives rise to the perception of a whole world can hardly be called idle. Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions. You can indeed multiply nothing, but you will not extend it by doing so.
Besides your recognizing that thoughts are never idle, salvation requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war; either love or fear. A neutral result is impossible because a neutral thought is impossible. There is such a temptation to dismiss fear thoughts as unimportant, trivial and not worth bothering about that it is essential you recognize them all as equally destructive, but equally unreal. We will practice this idea in many forms before you really understand it.
In applying the idea for today, search your mind for a minute or so with eyes closed, and actively seek not to overlook any “little” thought that may tend to elude the search. This is quite difficult until you get used to it. You will find that it is still hard for you not to make artificial distinctions. Every thought that occurs to you, regardless of the qualities that you assign to it, is a suitable subject for applying today’s idea.
In the practice periods, first repeat the idea to yourself, and then as each one crosses your mind hold it in awareness while you tell yourself:
This thought about ________ is not a neutral thought.
That thought about ________ is not a neutral thought.
As usual, use today’s idea whenever you are aware of a particular thought that arouses uneasiness. The following form is suggested for this purpose:
This thought about ________ is not a neutral thought, because I have no neutral thoughts.
Four or five practice periods are recommended, if you find them relatively effortless. If strain is experienced, three will be enough. The length of the exercise period should also be reduced if there is discomfort.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #218: The discussion of light episodes in Lesson 15 seems anomalous in that it is virtually the only time in which A Course in Miracles uses a physical phenomenon to measure spiritual progress. (The other examples, such as Lesson 122 2:3 and Lesson 155.1:3, are obviously meant to be poetic.) In fact, people I know, including myself, who feel they have made great progress with the Course do not recall such experiences. Is it possible that this was a result of Helen’s ego coming through temporarily during early resistance to the scribing process?
A: The reference in Lesson 15 pertains to a problem with some religious experiences that a friend of Bill Thetford’s was having. It was put in by Jesus specifically to alleviate this friend’s anxiety about visions of light that he was finding quite frightening; thus, “Do not be afraid of them” (W.pI.15.3:3). (See Absence from Felicity, p. 306, under “Bill’s Journal.”)
Although the reference suggests that all students may have these “light episodes,” it was not meant to be a criterion of progress with the Course. It can be understood as a symbol of the non- material light of forgiveness.
Q #339: There are two quotations (among many) in the workbook of A Course in Miracles which have puzzled me for a very long time. I would appreciate some clarification. (1) “You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision…..As we go along, you may have many ‘light episodes'” (W.pI.15.2:2;3:1). I have been doing this material for years and know a great many people who have also, and no one I know has had such an experience, although I have had some wondrous experiences. (2) “The time will come when you will not return in the same form in which you now appear, for you will have no need of it.” W.pI.157.7:3. I assume this means when we leave the body, but in what form will we reappear?
A: (1) This passage has been troubling to many students. It seems to suggest that a mark of spiritual progress is seeing edges of light around objects, such as auras. If this were the literal meaning, it would go against everything else the Course teaches. Jesus, as we know, stresses that all perception is unreal. In the text he says that however holy visions may be, they do not last because they are based on perception (T.3.III.4:6). Light is a symbol; it is not a perceptual thing. Perceiving light outside you symbolizes the release of some of the darkness in your mind and allowing more of the light to come through. When the Course talks about the light in us, it is not talking about an electric light bulb, an aura, or anything that we actually perceive. Light traditionally has been a symbol used in spirituality to denote God, life, truth, etc. So A Course in Miracles uses that same imagery. Darkness refers to the darkness of guilt and of being separate from God; light refers to the undoing all of that, along with feeling God’s Presence and His love.
This passage originally had nothing to do with the Course itself. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford had a close friend who worked with them at the Medical Center — he was the only person they shared the Course with right from the beginning. From time to time he would wake up in the middle of the night and feel and see light all around him. He was terrified by these episodes. So this was Jesus’ way of telling him that everything was all right when he had those light episodes. (See Absence from Felicity, p. 304.) That is why this passage appears. Kenneth has felt that there should have been a footnote or some explanation to that effect. In any case, it should not be taken to mean that if you don’t see light that you are a spiritual failure. It can be taken to mean rather that when you forgive more, there will be more “light” in your mind, which means that that light will be extended. Then you will perceive the world as a “lightened” place, in the sense that the burden of guilt will no longer be upon it. Some people actually perceive light physically. But that should be understood only as a symbol — one of many, many symbols — of the process of healing within their own minds.
(2) Similarly, the passage in Lesson 157 was originally meant for Helen Schucman herself. Kenneth comments in Absence from Felicity: “On a number of occasions Helen mentioned to me that Jesus told her that the ‘next time you come you would be different,’ reminiscent of the lines in Lesson 157…Incidentally, this was one of Helen’s favorite lessons. Her understanding of these lines, even though the subject of reincarnation usually made her very uncomfortable, was that the next time she ‘came’ — her next life — she would be ego-free, as was the priestess of her vision” (p. 476).
So this passage can be understood to mean that when the purpose of forgiveness is fulfilled, we shall have no further need of the body as a classroom. We shall have remembered who we are as God’s one Son as we enter into the real world. When we next appear in the body, we would obviously be different because the thought in our minds would be different. The body would not be our classroom but solely a means through which the Holy Spirit can communicate His message of healing and forgiveness. Jesus speaks of “Teachers of teachers” in this manner: “…although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon. And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so” (M.26.2:2,3).
Q #1227: I have a question about lights. I have been doing the Course for a very short time (about seven months), and I am already seeing light shows in my meditative states. I never experienced this before and I’m a little nervous. Although I do feel very peaceful, I’m still ready to run to the eye doctor to check and see if I have glaucoma or something! I still haven’t seen light around the edges of things or anything really in the world of form, but when I lay down it’s showtime! My question really is this: Isn’t it too soon for me to be seeing this stuff? It’s a little scary sometimes and I don’t know if it is real or somehow just a figment of my imagination. Why after just beginning A Course in Miracles would I have these episodes when others have been faithfully doing the course for years and don’t seem to have these experiences?
A: Like everything else in the world of perception, once we have made it real in our minds, the lights you are seeing are in themselves neutral. And what determines their value is the interpretation you give them, which depends only on to which teacher you turn to give them their meaning.
Turn to the ego and you will see them as evidence of your specialness, an interpretation you’ve already been in touch with when you believe they somehow make you different from, possibly even better than, other students who have been studying the Course much longer. By the way, although the wording of Lesson 15 may seem to suggest that experiences of light will be an outcome of practicing the Course’s principles, you may find that the discussions of these kinds of phenomena, presented in Questions #218 and #339, can provide some helpful clarification. And so whether one experiences light episodes earlier or later in one’s work with the Course, or not at all, in the end is irrelevant to the Course’s genuine purpose, which is to teach us how to undo our investment in the ego and its thought system of separation and differences, through the practice of forgiveness — the releasing of all of our judgments.
Turn to the Holy Spirit in your right mind, and your light experiences can become symbols that remind you that all perception is ultimately illusory — and that may be at least in part what you are finding so frightening about your experience — for the seeming external world of our perception is no more nor less a figment of your imagination than the flashes of light and flaming sparks you are seeing during your meditations with the workbook lessons. The light can also symbolize the little willingness needed to shine away the darkness of the ego’s thought system of sin and guilt by looking directly at it and seeing through it ( e.g., T.11.in.3) . And, when seen through the vision of the Holy Spirit, it can also be a symbol of the formless light and love that is our reality as God’s Son, an extension of His perfect Love ( e.g., T.12.VI.7:2,3) .
Perhaps the most important thing you may wish to keep in mind about your experiences is that nothing of the world of perception is of any value in itself. If the experiences should continue for any time, simply enjoy them without making them a big deal. And if they should cease, nothing of value will have been lost.