ACIM Text Reading for January 26
Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception
VI. Judgment and the Authority Problem
We have already discussed the Last Judgment, but in insufficient detail. After the Last Judgment there will be no more. Judgment is symbolic because beyond perception there is no judgment. When the Bible says “Judge not that ye be not judged,” it means that if you judge the reality of others you will be unable to avoid judging your own.
The choice to judge rather than to know is the cause of the loss of peace. Judgment is the process on which perception but not knowledge rests. I have discussed this before in terms of the selectivity of perception, pointing out that evaluation is its obvious prerequisite. Judgment always involves rejection. It never emphasizes only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether in you or in others. What has been perceived and rejected, or judged and found wanting, remains in your mind because it has been perceived. One of the illusions from which you suffer is the belief that what you judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless you also believe that what you judged against does not exist. You evidently do not believe this, or you would not have judged against it. In the end it does not matter whether your judgment is right or wrong. Either way you are placing your belief in the unreal. This cannot be avoided in any type of judgment, because it implies the belief that reality is yours to select from.
You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment. When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from the belief that you are under the coercion of judgment. You do not need judgment to organize your life, and you certainly do not need it to organize yourself. In the presence of knowledge all judgment is automatically suspended, and this is the process that enables recognition to replace perception.
You are very fearful of everything you perceive but have refused to accept. You believe that, because you have refused to accept it, you have lost control over it. This is why you see it in nightmares, or in pleasant disguises in what seem to be your happier dreams. Nothing that you have refused to accept can be brought into awareness. It is not dangerous in itself, but you have made it seem dangerous to you.
When you feel tired, it is because you have judged yourself as capable of being tired. When you laugh at someone, it is because you have judged him as unworthy. When you laugh at yourself you must laugh at others, if only because you cannot tolerate the idea of being more unworthy than they are. All this makes you feel tired because it is essentially disheartening. You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourself. The strain of constant judgment is virtually intolerable. It is curious that an ability so debilitating would be so deeply cherished. Yet if you wish to be the author of reality, you will insist on holding on to judgment. You will also regard judgment with fear, believing that it will someday be used against you. This belief can exist only to the extent that you believe in the efficacy of judgment as a weapon of defense for your own authority.
God offers only mercy. Your words should reflect only mercy, because that is what you have received and that is what you should give. Justice is a temporary expedient, or an attempt to teach you the meaning of mercy. It is judgmental only because you are capable of injustice.
I have spoken of different symptoms, and at that level there is almost endless variation. There is, however, only one cause for all of them: the authority problem. This is “the root of all evil.” Every symptom the ego makes involves a contradiction in terms, because the mind is split between the ego and the Holy Spirit, so that whatever the ego makes is incomplete and contradictory. This untenable position is the result of the authority problem which, because it accepts the one inconceivable thought as its premise, can produce only ideas that are inconceivable.
The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When you have an authority problem, it is always because you believe you are the author of yourself and project your delusion onto others. You then perceive the situation as one in which others are literally fighting you for your authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God. This belief is very frightening to them, but hardly troubles God. He is, however, eager to undo it, not to punish His children, but only because He knows that it makes them unhappy. God’s creations are given their true Authorship, but you prefer to be anonymous when you choose to separate yourself from your Author. Being uncertain of your true Authorship, you believe that your creation was anonymous. This leaves you in a position where it sounds meaningful to believe that you created yourself. The dispute over authorship has left such uncertainty in your mind that it may even doubt whether you really exist at all.
Only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible. You have not usurped the power of God, but you have lost it. Fortunately, to lose something does not mean that it has gone. It merely means that you do not remember where it is. Its existence does not depend on your ability to identify it, or even to place it. It is possible to look on reality without judgment and merely know that it is there.
Peace is a natural heritage of spirit. Everyone is free to refuse to accept his inheritance, but he is not free to establish what his inheritance is. The problem everyone must decide is the fundamental question of authorship. All fear comes ultimately, and sometimes by way of very devious routes, from the denial of Authorship. The offense is never to God, but only to those who deny Him. To deny His Authorship is to deny yourself the reason for your peace, so that you see yourself only in segments. This strange perception is the authority problem.
There is no one who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way. If this is the result of his own free will he must regard his will as not free, or the circular reasoning in this position would be quite apparent. Free will must lead to freedom. Judgment always imprisons because it separates segments of reality by the unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one in his right mind believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed. Instead of “Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven” say, “Will ye first the Kingdom of Heaven,” and you have said, “I know what I am and I accept my own inheritance.”
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 26
My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.
It is surely obvious that if you can be attacked you are not invulnerable. You see attack as a real threat. That is because you believe that you can really attack. And what would have effects through you must also have effects on you. It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now. You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests, rather than against them.
Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack. And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable. Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are. Attack thoughts and invulnerability cannot be accepted together. They contradict each other.
The idea for today introduces the thought that you always attack yourself first. If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes. Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself. And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself. A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.
Practice with today’s idea will help you to understand that vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of your own thoughts. Nothing except your thoughts can attack you. Nothing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulnerable. And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so.
Six practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. A full two minutes should be attempted for each of them, although the time may be reduced to a minute if the discomfort is too great. Do not reduce it further.
The practice period should begin with repeating the idea for today, then closing your eyes and reviewing the unresolved questions whose outcomes are causing you concern. The concern may take the form of depression, worry, anger, a sense of imposition, fear, foreboding or preoccupation. Any problem as yet unsettled that tends to recur in your thoughts during the day is a suitable subject. You will not be able to use very many for any one practice period, because a longer time than usual should be spent with each one. Today’s idea should be applied as follows:
First, name the situation:
I am concerned about ______.
Then go over every possible outcome that has occurred to you in that connection and which has caused you concern, referring to each one quite specifically, saying:
I am afraid ______ will happen.
If you are doing the exercises properly, you should have some five or six distressing possibilities available for each situation you use, and quite possibly more. It is much more helpful to cover a few situations thoroughly than to touch on a larger number. As the list of anticipated outcomes for each situation continues, you will probably find some of them, especially those that occur to you toward the end, less acceptable to you. Try, however, to treat them all alike to whatever extent you can.
After you have named each outcome of which you are afraid, tell yourself:
That thought is an attack upon myself.
Conclude each practice period by repeating today’s idea to yourself once more.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1163: In the first chapter of A Course in Miracles , Jesus talks about a traumatic experience that could result from starting on later stages of the Course without the preparation that careful study of the earlier sections would provide, because awe would then likely be confused with fear (T.1.VII.4,5). How exactly can your studying of the Course result in a traumatic experience? Which, more precisely, are the early sections and which the later ones, that Jesus is referring to in the text?
A: Jesus does not identify specifically which sections in the text are the early ones and which are the later ones. But he is basically talking about not jumping from the bottom of the spiritual ladder right up to the top without taking the intervening steps. Many people want instant enlightenment and do not want to do the often unpleasant and uncomfortable work of looking at their egos and how their lives have been directed by their choice to have the ego as their teacher instead of the Holy Spirit. That’s not a pretty sight in our minds, but we will never be able to truly get beyond the ego and all its hate and selfishness without looking at it and humbly admitting we were wrong in wanting the special identity the ego offered in place of our true Identity as Christ. We must learn how to do that, trusting Jesus’ word more and more that we will not be punished — even annihilated as the ego warns us — for having made a substitute for God’s Love. We must practice every day how to shift the purpose of our lives and our relationships from the ego’s to the Holy Spirit’s; but we cannot do that without seeing — sometimes shockingly so — the extent of our investment in the ego and how we manifest the ego’s madness of separation 24 hours a day, usually.
The point is, we have covered all of that over because we were convinced that unspeakably horrific things would happen if we ever remembered we have a mind and then would go back there and look at what we chose. There is such fear buried there that if we were to approach God directly, we would surely be thrown into a disabling panic. We need to approach God indirectly, through forgiveness and a relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit first, because of all the distorted notions we have implanted in our minds about Who God is and what we can expect of Him when we meet Him face to face. Jesus discusses this indirect approach in Chapter 14 of the text in the section called “The Conditions of Learning” (T.14.I). Earlier in Chapter 12 he tells us: “You cannot lay aside the obstacles to real vision without looking upon them, for to lay aside means to judge against. If you will look, the Holy Spirit will judge, and He will judge truly. Yet He cannot shine away what you keep hidden, for you have not offered it to Him and He cannot take it from you.
We are therefore embarking on an organized, well-structured and carefully planned program aimed at learning how to offer to the Holy Spirit everything you do not want. He knows what to do with it. You do not understand how to use what He knows. Whatever is given Him that is not of God is gone. Yet you must look at it yourself in perfect willingness, for otherwise His knowledge remains useless to you. Surely He will not fail to help you, since help is His only purpose. Do you not have greater reason for fearing the world as you perceive it, than for looking at the cause of fear and letting it go forever?” (T.12.II.9:6,7,8; 10)
This is the process Jesus wants us to focus on and not slip past, thinking we are already too spiritually advanced to have to engage in such work, and that we don’t need any help.
Q #781: Is it correct to say that since God is all there is, all else is a lie, illusion, hypnotism, a nothingness; and that error is never a person, but rather the person is a victim of the belief of good and evil? In other words, all error is coming from an impersonal source that uses us, and we unknowingly become its victim?
A: Absolutely “yes,” and absolutely “no.” Yes, God is, and nothing else is. There is only perfect Oneness, “nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within” (T.18.VI.1:6) . No, we are not the unknowing victims of an impersonal source of all error. A Course in Miracles teaches us that “we” are decision-making minds outside time and space that choose, erroneously, to believe that we have successfully separated from God. We are victims only of our own thoughts, fortunately, because we, then, are the ones who can change our minds about that decision and choose instead to accept the correction that is always in our minds. Ultimately, though, not even this occurred; if God alone is real, there could not even be a thought of separation.
Two helpful lessons on this topic are: Lesson 152 “The power of decision is my own” and Lesson 253 “My Self is ruler of the universe” (W.pI.152; W.pII.253) .