ACIM Text Reading for January 27
Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception
VII. Creating versus the Self-Image
Every system of thought must have a starting point. It begins with either a making or a creating, a difference we have already discussed. Their resemblance lies in their power as foundations. Their difference lies in what rests upon them. Both are cornerstones for systems of belief by which one lives. It is a mistake to believe that a thought system based on lies is weak. Nothing made by a child of God is without power. It is essential to realize this, because otherwise you will be unable to escape from the prison you have made.
You cannot resolve the authority problem by depreciating the power of your mind. To do so is to deceive yourself, and this will hurt you because you really understand the strength of the mind. You also realize that you cannot weaken it, any more than you can weaken God. The “devil” is a frightening concept because he seems to be extremely powerful and extremely active. He is perceived as a force in combat with God, battling Him for possession of His creations. The devil deceives by lies, and builds kingdoms in which everything is in direct opposition to God. Yet he attracts men rather than repels them, and they are willing to “sell” him their souls in return for gifts of no real worth. This makes absolutely no sense.
We have discussed the fall or separation before, but its meaning must be clearly understood. The separation is a system of thought real enough in time, though not in eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer. The fruit of only one tree was “forbidden” in the symbolic garden. But God could not have forbidden it, or it could not have been eaten. If God knows His children, and I assure you that He does, would He have put them in a position where their own destruction was possible? The “forbidden tree” was named the “tree of knowledge.” Yet God created knowledge and gave it freely to His creations. The symbolism here has been given many interpretations, but you may be sure that any interpretation that sees either God or His creations as capable of destroying Their Own purpose is in error.
Eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a symbolic expression for usurping the ability for self-creating. This is the only sense in which God and His creations are not co-creators. The belief that they are is implicit in the “self-concept,” or the tendency of the self to make an image of itself. Images are perceived, not known. Knowledge cannot deceive, but perception can. You can perceive yourself as self-creating, but you cannot do more than believe it. You cannot make it true. And, as I said before, when you finally perceive correctly you can only be glad that you cannot. Until then, however, the belief that you can is the foundation stone in your thought system, and all your defenses are used to attack ideas that might bring it to light. You still believe you are an image of your own making. Your mind is split with the Holy Spirit on this point, and there is no resolution while you believe the one thing that is literally inconceivable. That is why you cannot create and are filled with fear about what you make.
The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the “devil.” It is powerful, active, destructive and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Look at your life and see what the devil has made. But realize that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth, because its foundation is a lie. Your creation by God is the only foundation that cannot be shaken, because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning. Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. Your Self is still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death.
The branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of life, and your own thought system will stand corrected. It cannot stand otherwise. You who fear salvation are choosing death. Life and death, light and darkness, knowledge and perception, are irreconcilable. To believe that they can be reconciled is to believe that God and His Son can not. Only the oneness of knowledge is free of conflict. Your Kingdom is not of this world because it was given you from beyond this world. Only in this world is the idea of an authority problem meaningful. The world is not left by death but by truth, and truth can be known by all those for whom the Kingdom was created, and for whom it waits.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 27
Above all else I want to see.
Today’s idea expresses something stronger than mere determination. It gives vision priority among your desires. You may feel hesitant about using the idea, on the grounds that you are not sure you really mean it. This does not matter. The purpose of today’s exercises is to bring the time when the idea will be wholly true a little nearer.
There may be a great temptation to believe that some sort of sacrifice is being asked of you when you say you want to see above all else. If you become uneasy about the lack of reservation involved, add:
Vision has no cost to anyone.
If fear of loss still persists, add further:
It can only bless.
The idea for today needs many repetitions for maximum benefit. It should be used at least every half hour, and more if possible. You might try for every fifteen or twenty minutes. It is recommended that you set a definite time interval for using the idea when you wake or shortly afterwards, and attempt to adhere to it throughout the day. It will not be difficult to do this, even if you are engaged in conversation, or otherwise occupied at the time. You can still repeat one short sentence to yourself without disturbing anything.
The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today’s idea to be true? Answer one of these questions, and you have answered the other. You will probably miss several applications, and perhaps quite a number. Do not be disturbed by this, but do try to keep on your schedule from then on. If only once during the day you feel that you were perfectly sincere while you were repeating today’s idea, you can be sure that you have saved yourself many years of effort.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1331 : I’ve been studying the Course over a long period of time and so it seems strange to me that I’m having this thought. The thought is: I really don’t want to be here any longer. It’s a thought that I experience so deeply and so frequently each day. It’s a thought that haunts me. Now, I do understand that the Course is about changing our mind and not about going to another place. I also understand that suicide is not the answer since the death of the body doesn’t solve anything. Maybe the deep longing to be out of this world is really a reflection of wanting to be out of the misery that having an ego entails — but this process takes so very long. Could you help me with this?
A: Recognizing that you do not want to be here is not only a normal and predictable consequence of studying A Course in Miracles , but, in fact, a crucial one. Again and again, the Course returns to the theme that this world is not our home. Indeed, it beautifully describes the experience of feeling haunted by the thought of not wanting to be here: “…there is a Child in you Who seeks His Father’s house, and knows that He is alien here…. It is this Child Who knows His Father. He desires to go home so deeply, so unceasingly, His voice cries unto you to let Him rest a while…. He whispers of His home unceasingly to you.” (W.p1.182.4:3; 5:2,3; 7:4).
Because most of us have spent our entire lives keeping this unceasing voice deeply buried, Jesus’ efforts in the Course to bring it to our awareness can feel quite shocking. We may simultaneously be comforted that he knows exactly how we feel and frightened that we now have to acknowledge a truth that threatens the very foundation of who we think we are. Fortunately, there is another message in the Course that makes this situation bearable. Jesus teaches us that we are not here. He tells us, “Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself” (T.28.II.4:1) . He further teaches us that since this is a dream, we have control over the dream’s content: “…there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep, depending on the purpose of your dreaming. A dream is like a memory in that it pictures what you wanted shown to you” (T.28.II.4:3, 5) .
This, then, provides the key with which we can face the sense of not wanting to be here and ultimately find relief from the pain it causes us. The ego would have us interpret our desire not to be here as a longing to leave the physical world — an inherently futile endeavor because there is no physical world from which to escape. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, would reinterpret this desire as the perfectly sensible and achievable longing to awaken and leave the state of mind that has brought us nothing but pain. Therefore, by turning over the thought, “I don’t want to be here any longer” to the Holy Spirit, we can have it transformed from a hopeless lament about our seemingly external situation into an inspirational wake-up call to change our internal situation. In the process, the world will seem to change from a noxious prison to a wondrous classroom.
When we are tempted to feel like prisoners here, threatened by seemingly cruel external forces and frustrated by a spiritual journey that can feel slow and rocky, we would do well to remember the following words: “…there must be another way of looking at [the world] . I see everything upside down, and my thoughts are the opposite of truth. I see the world as a prison for God’s Son. It must be, then, that the world is really a place where he can be set free. I would look upon the world as it is, and see it as a place where the Son of God finds his freedom” (W.p1.57.3).
Q #1332: My question is in regard to sickness. I understand the idea that sickness, according to A Course in Miracles , is of the mind and is a perspective, etc. However, we obviously will all die of something unless we have reached a level of enlightenment in which we can just leave our bodies at will and break with the illusion. Does this mean that everyone who dies, no matter what level they have reached spiritually is still holding “unforgiveness”? I know of some very high beings who still got diseases, had strokes, and other health issues.
A: A Course in Miracles states that “no one dies without his own consent” (W.pI.152.1) ; but this decision can be wrong-minded or right-minded. Our discussion in Question #262 focuses on the important distinction between form and content in the Course’s view of death. Helpful references are also provided there as well as in Questions #494 and #604. The key point is that the condition of the body does not automatically tell us which thought system the mind has chosen and whether or not the mind has reached enlightenment. Thus, we should not attempt to judge based upon appearances. A healed mind could take the form of a cancer-consumed dying body if there were a valuable teaching purpose in it, for example. That mind, though, would not be suffering — a most difficult teaching for us to comprehend and accept, because of our lack of awareness of our mind and our body-oriented way of thinking. Jesus’ body certainly seemed to be in terrible condition at the end, but we would not conclude that his mind must therefore have been in terrible condition as well. A seemingly pain-wracked body is not necessarily a regrettable tragedy, in other words. Again, this can only be understood from the perspective of the mind’s right-minded position “above the battleground” of the ego’s world of bodies.