ACIM Text Reading for January 31
Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego
IV. Love without Conflict
It is hard to understand what “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” really means. This is because it is not understandable to the ego, which interprets it as if something outside is inside, and this does not mean anything. The word “within” is unnecessary. The Kingdom of Heaven is you. What else but you did the Creator create, and what else but you is His Kingdom? This is the whole message which in its totality transcends the sum of its parts. You, too, have a kingdom that your spirit created. It has not ceased to create because of the ego’s illusions. Your creations are no more fatherless than you are. Your ego and your spirit will never be co-creators, but your spirit and your creator will always be. Be confident that your creations are as safe as you are.
- The kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it. Amen.
This is written in the form of a prayer because it is useful in moments of temptation. It is a declaration of independence. You will find it very helpful if you understand it fully. The reason you need my help is because you have denied your own Guide and therefore need guidance. My role is to separate the true from the false, so truth can break through the barriers the ego has set up and can shine into your mind. Against our united strength the ego cannot prevail.
It is surely apparent by now why the ego regards spirit as its “enemy.” The ego arose from the separation, and its continued existence depends on your continuing belief in the separation. The ego must offer you some sort of reward for maintaining this belief. All it can offer is a sense of temporary existence, which begins with its own beginning and ends with its own ending. It tells you this life is your existence because it is its own. Against this sense of temporary existence spirit offers you the knowledge of permanence and unshakable being. No one who has experienced the revelation of this can ever fully believe in the ego again. How can its meager offering to you prevail against the glorious gift of God?
You who identify with your ego cannot believe God loves you. You do not love what you made, and what you made does not love you. Being made out of the denial of the Father, the ego has no allegiance to its maker. You cannot conceive of the real relationship that exists between God and His creations because of your hatred for the self you made. You project onto the ego the decision to separate, and this conflicts with the love you feel for the ego because you made it. No love in this world is without this ambivalence, and since no ego has experienced love without ambivalence the concept is beyond its understanding. Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly. This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s “drive to get.”
There is a kind of experience so different from anything the ego can offer that you will never want to cover or hide it again. It is necessary to repeat that your belief in darkness and hiding is why the light cannot enter. The Bible gives many references to the immeasurable gifts which are for you, but for which you must ask. This is not a condition as the ego sets conditions. It is the glorious condition of what you are.
No force except your own will is strong enough or worthy enough to guide you. In this you are as free as God, and must remain so forever. Let us ask the Father in my name to keep you mindful of His Love for you and yours for Him. He has never failed to answer this request, because it asks only for what He has already willed. Those who call truly are always answered. Thou shalt have no other gods before Him because there are none.
It has never really entered your mind to give up every idea you ever had that opposes knowledge. You retain thousands of little scraps of fear that prevent the Holy One from entering. Light cannot penetrate through the walls you make to block it, and it is forever unwilling to destroy what you have made. No one can see through a wall, but I can step around it. Watch your mind for the scraps of fear, or you will be unable to ask me to do so. I can help you only as our Father created us. I will love you and honor you and maintain complete respect for what you have made, but I will not uphold it unless it is true. I will come in response to a single unequivocal call.
Watch carefully and see what it is you are really asking for. Be very honest with yourself in this, for we must hide nothing from each other. If you will really try to do this, you have taken the first step toward preparing your mind for the Holy One to enter. We will prepare for this together, for once He has come, you will be ready to help me make other minds ready for Him. How long will you deny Him His Kingdom?
In your own mind, though denied by the ego, is the declaration of your release. God has given you everything. This one fact means the ego does not exist, and this makes it profoundly afraid. In the ego’s language, “to have” and “to be” are different, but they are identical to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows that you both have everything and are everything. Any distinction in this respect is meaningful only when the idea of “getting,” which implies a lack, has already been accepted. That is why we make no distinction between having the Kingdom of God and being the Kingdom of God.
The calm being of God’s Kingdom, which in your sane mind is perfectly conscious, is ruthlessly banished from the part of the mind the ego rules. The ego is desperate because it opposes literally invincible odds, whether you are asleep or awake. Consider how much vigilance you have been willing to exert to protect your ego, and how little to protect your right mind. Who but the insane would undertake to believe what is not true, and then protect this belief at the cost of truth?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 31
I am not the victim of the world I see.
Today’s idea is the introduction to your declaration of release. Again, the idea should be applied to both the world you see without and the world you see within. In applying the idea, we will use a form of practice which will be used more and more, with changes as indicated. Generally speaking, the form includes two aspects, one in which you apply the idea on a more sustained basis, and the other consisting of frequent applications of the idea throughout the day.
Two longer periods of practice with the idea for today are needed, one in the morning and one at night. Three to five minutes for each of these are recommended. During that time, look about you slowly while repeating the idea two or three times. Then close your eyes, and apply the same idea to your inner world. You will escape from both together, for the inner is the cause of the outer.
As you survey your inner world, merely let whatever thoughts cross your mind come into your awareness, each to be considered for a moment, and then replaced by the next. Try not to establish any kind of hierarchy among them. Watch them come and go as dispassionately as possible. Do not dwell on any one in particular, but try to let the stream move on evenly and calmly, without any special investment on your part. As you sit and quietly watch your thoughts, repeat today’s idea to yourself as often as you care to, but with no sense of hurry.
In addition, repeat the idea for today as often as possible during the day. Remind yourself that you are making a declaration of independence in the name of your own freedom. And in your freedom lies the freedom of the world.
The idea for today is also a particularly useful one to use as a response to any form of temptation that may arise. It is a declaration that you will not yield to it, and put yourself in bondage.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1026: “Your ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not, because if I am real, I am no more real than you are” (T.4.IV.10.8). Would you comment on this sentence? It confuses me. I am not sure what Jesus is saying here.
A: There are two parts to this statement. The first part — “The ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not” — is what we would expect of the ego, that it would try to convince us that separation, which the ego symbolizes, is reality, and oneness, which Jesus symbolizes, is not. The purpose of A Course in Miracles is to lead us to accept the Atonement for ourselves, which means that we come to recognize that the separation never happened. So if Jesus, as the symbol of oneness, is real, then the ego is not. Since the ego’s only purpose is self-preservation, regardless of the truth, it must make every effort to persuade us that the Jesus of the Course is not real.
The second part of the statement — “because if I am real, I am no more real than you are” — is another way of saying that if Jesus is real, we are all the same, and ultimately we are all one. The ego, confronted with the reality of Jesus, can only hope to persuade us that he is very different from us — God’s only Son, divine, innocent while we are guilty, existing before us through all of eternity. If the Jesus the ego is willing for us to embrace were real, the ego could remain in business, for the separation would be confirmed. That is what has made Christianity and its central figure Jesus so popular across the centuries — they affirm the reality of separation and differences and sin, as well as attack and victimization.
But the Course’s message is that we are all the same because we are all one. There are no differences that mean anything. If the Jesus who is like us is real and exists, then the ego and all its perceived differences are meaningless. And sin and guilt are nothing but idle fantasies with no effects. And all of this, to the ego, is blasphemous.
Q #1027: I have a compulsion to make to-do lists and set goals. Is this an ego thing? How do I let go of it? I feel like I’m supposed to surrender my will and life over to the Holy Spirit and let Him run the show, but every time I try, I end up back making lists. I feel like I’m doing something wrong and it’s creating a lot of tension in my life.
A: Fortunately, nowhere in A Course in Miracles does it say you cannot make to-do lists. Nor does it tell us to change our behavior or personality traits in any way. The Holy Spirit has indeed come to help us, but He will not pay the bills, wash the dishes or clean the garage. Putting ourselves under the Holy Spirit’s guidance means becoming mindful of the thoughts of judgment about ourselves and others that continually re-cycle the guilt in the mind for not choosing the Holy Spirit. The true source of tension is in the split mind that is in conflict between choosing the ego and the Holy Spirit. That is the real problem. The first thing on the Holy Spirit’s list is to see the problem where it is (in the mind), not where it has been projected ( making or not making lists).
As long as we believe the world is real, there is a place for making lists and setting goals. Things need to be done. Jesus acknowledges this in The Song of Prayer : There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not (S.1.I.2:4) The important question to ask is with whom the decisions are made (See: Rules for Decision T.30.I) . Guided by the ego, making lists and setting goals are activities driven by compulsion and need. The underlying belief is that salvation lies in the security of having lists and accomplishing tasks, and peace is lost when task goals are not set and met. They are thus used as attacks against peace. The Holy Spirit’s goal is the healing of the mind, and the only task needed to achieve this goal is forgiveness. His help is not directed toward behavior of any kind, but with the mind that chooses to believe that certain behaviors are valuable and then judges that decision as sinful. Lists cannot keep you from Heaven any more than they can get you in, unless, of course, returning to Heaven is on the list. In that case, the work to be done is the practice of forgiveness, which begins with awareness of the judgments against oneself and others. Looking at these judgments with the Holy Spirit means seeing that their true purpose is to keep Him away. That is how we beat the ego at its own game, so to speak, and invite the Holy Spirit to be in charge. It is a process of learning to see everything, from making lists to accomplishing the tasks on the lists, as opportunities for forgiveness. If that is at the top of the list, everything will serve the Holy Spirit’s purpose of healing, thereby putting Him in charge, rather than the ego.