ACIM Text Reading for January 28
Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego
The Bible says that you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks. It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey. Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either. It can lead only to mutual progress. The result of genuine devotion is inspiration, a word which properly understood is the opposite of fatigue. To be fatigued is to be dis-spirited, but to be inspired is to be in the spirit. To be egocentric is to be dis-spirited, but to be self-centered in the right sense is to be inspired or in spirit. The truly inspired are enlightened and cannot abide in darkness.
You can speak from the spirit or from the ego, as you choose. If you speak from spirit you have chosen to “Be still and know that I am God.” These words are inspired because they reflect knowledge. If you speak from the ego you are disclaiming knowledge instead of affirming it, and are thus dis-spiriting yourself. Do not embark on useless journeys, because they are indeed in vain. The ego may desire them, but spirit cannot embark on them because it is forever unwilling to depart from its Foundation.
The journey to the cross should be the last “useless journey.” Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. If you can accept it as your own last useless journey, you are also free to join my resurrection. Until you do so your life is indeed wasted. It merely re-enacts the separation, the loss of power, the futile attempts of the ego at reparation, and finally the crucifixion of the body, or death. Such repetitions are endless until they are voluntarily given up. Do not make the pathetic error of “clinging to the old rugged cross.” The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. This is not the Gospel I intended to offer you. We have another journey to undertake, and if you will read these lessons carefully they will help prepare you to undertake it.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 28
Above all else I want to see things differently.
Today we are really giving specific application to the idea for yesterday. In these practice periods, you will be making a series of definite commitments. The question of whether you will keep them in the future is not our concern here. If you are willing at least to make them now, you have started on the way to keeping them. And we are still at the beginning.
You may wonder why it is important to say, for example, “Above all else I want to see this table differently.” In itself it is not important at all. Yet what is by itself? And what does “in itself” mean? You see a lot of separate things about you, which really means you are not seeing at all. You either see or not. When you have seen one thing differently, you will see all things differently. The light you will see in any one of them is the same light you will see in them all.
When you say, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are making a commitment to withdraw your preconceived ideas about the table, and open your mind to what it is, and what it is for. You are not defining it in past terms. You are asking what it is, rather than telling it what it is. You are not binding its meaning to your tiny experience of tables, nor are you limiting its purpose to your little personal thoughts.
You will not question what you have already defined. And the purpose of these exercises is to ask questions and receive the answers. In saying, “Above all else I want to see this table differently,” you are committing yourself to seeing. It is not an exclusive commitment. It is a commitment that applies to the table just as much as to anything else, neither more nor less.
You could, in fact, gain vision from just that table, if you would withdraw all your own ideas from it, and look upon it with a completely open mind. It has something to show you; something beautiful and clean and of infinite value, full of happiness and hope. Hidden under all your ideas about it is its real purpose, the purpose it shares with all the universe.
In using the table as a subject for applying the idea for today, you are therefore really asking to see the purpose of the universe. You will be making this same request of each subject that you use in the practice periods. And you are making a commitment to each of them to let its purpose be revealed to you, instead of placing your own judgment upon it.
We will have six two-minute practice periods today, in which the idea for the day is stated first, and then applied to whatever you see about you. Not only should the subjects be chosen randomly, but each one should be accorded equal sincerity as today’s idea is applied to it, in an attempt to acknowledge the equal value of them all in their contribution to your seeing.
As usual, the applications should include the name of the subject your eyes happen to light on, and you should rest your eyes on it while saying
Above all else I want to see this ______ differently.
Each application should be made quite slowly, and as thoughtfully as possible. There is no hurry.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #747: I am still having a little doubt as to the nature of the ego. Is it such an evil entity always attempting to separate us from God? Isn’t it better just to think of a corpus of wrong ideas we have created of ourselves that serves the simple purpose of giving wrong answers when facing a situation? Isn’t it just a point of reference with which to compare the divine peace of Heaven? Why do we have to see it as such an entity? In my case this idea contributed to building a new kind of fear I had to deal with.
A: In A Course in Miracles , Jesus tells us exactly what the ego is : “What is the ego ? But a dream of what you really are. A thought you are apart from your Creator and a wish to be what He created not. It is a thing of madness, not reality at all. A name for namelessness is all it is. A symbol of impossibility; a choice for options that do not exist. We name it but to help us understand that it is nothing but an ancient thought that what is made has immortality. But what could come of this except a dream which, like all dreams, can only end in death?” (C.2.1:4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11, italics ours ) The ego cannot then be an entity; it has no substance. It is the thought of separation, which is given power only by a choice in the mind to believe that it is true. The ego/thought exists in our experience because we want it to. We choose it over the Holy Spirit because we prefer our specialness as separate bodies to our truth as God’s innocent Son. We fear it because we fear the power of our minds that would recognize the nothingness of the ego. If the ego is nothing, so is the world and so is the body. That recognition is terrifying to those who cling to specialness in a body.
The world and the body arise in our experience as the result of choosing to identify with the thought of separation (ego) in the mind. Thus, the ego is not a thing outside of ourselves that exists on its own, acting as an agent that can tempt us to anything. We alone are responsible for bringing it into existence by believing in it and allowing it to thrive on the guilt that inevitably follows the choice to be other than the Son that God created. We would prefer to believe that the ego has a life of its own so we could dissociate from it. That would allow us to have our cake and eat it too; i.e., have an ego-free life as bodies outside of Heaven. However, Jesus tells us in the Course that neither the ego nor the body exists, because nothing exists outside of Heaven: “ Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere” (T.23.II.19:6). To ears that cling to “life” in a body this is not good news, and does indeed seem to instill fear. The fear, however, comes only from unwillingness to accept that truth be true. Yet in this same statement lies our hope for escape from the nightmare of separation. It tells us the ego has no life, and therefore no power and no effects. In another passage we are told: “ It [the ego] has no meaning. It does not exist. Do not try to understand it because, if you do, you are believing that it can be understood and is therefore capable of being appreciated and loved. That would justify its existence, which cannot be justified” (T.7.VI.11:6,7,8,9). That is good news. We are free to fix our attention on the path of forgiveness that is our only function here, and let the thought of separation be gradually undone. The ego, like the world, will then “fade into the nothingness from which it came.…” (M.13.1:2)
Q #748: If time is money, can we save it by spending less on our investment in the ego thought system. Will Jesus show us how to write this off? Could He be viewed as our ultimate financial advisor? Just wondering.
A: A helpful perspective! Sounds like a reflection on the section in the text of A Course in Miracles called “The Investment in Reality” (T.12.III) . Yes, we have invested heavily and almost exclusively in the ego thought system, and our losses have mounted accordingly. A diversified portfolio is always a wiser approach! And, yes, Jesus is showing us how to write off this bad debt. We could not find a better financial advisor. Unfortunately, we have not been listening to what he has been telling us for eons. Thankfully, he’s still saying it, and we will never run out of chances to change our minds and turn back to him as our advisor. Essentially he is showing us how we got into trouble and how to get out of it, without losing anything of value. What a deal! The only condition is that we muster up the humility to question our own judgment and agree to learn how to judge everything with him , which should not be hard to do, given our dismal performance thus far. Accepting him as our advisor is the best decision we could ever make, because it will give us everything we truly have longed for, and no sacrifice will ever have been asked. A no brainer!