ACIM Text Reading for February 2
Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego
VI. The Ego-Body Illusion
All things work together for good. There are no exceptions except in the ego’s judgment. The ego exerts maximal vigilance about what it permits into awareness, and this is not the way a balanced mind holds together. The ego is thrown further off balance because it keeps its primary motivation from your awareness, and raises control rather than sanity to predominance. The ego has every reason to do this, according to the thought system which gave rise to it and which it serves. Sane judgment would inevitably judge against the ego, and must be obliterated by the ego in the interest of its self-preservation.
A major source of the ego’s off-balanced state is its lack of discrimination between the body and the Thoughts of God. Thoughts of God are unacceptable to the ego, because they clearly point to the nonexistence of the ego itself. The ego therefore either distorts them or refuses to accept them. It cannot, however, make them cease to be. It therefore tries to conceal not only “unacceptable” body impulses, but also the Thoughts of God, because both are threatening to it. Being concerned primarily with its own preservation in the face of threat, the ego perceives them as the same. By perceiving them as the same, the ego attempts to save itself from being swept away, as it would surely be in the presence of knowledge.
Any thought system that confuses God and the body must be insane. Yet this confusion is essential to the ego, which judges only in terms of threat or non-threat to itself. In one sense the ego’s fear of God is at least logical, since the idea of Him does dispel the ego. But fear of the body, with which the ego identifies so closely, makes no sense at all.
The body is the ego’s home by its own election. It is the only identification with which the ego feels safe, since the body’s vulnerability is its own best argument that you cannot be of God. This is the belief that the ego sponsors eagerly. Yet the ego hates the body, because it cannot accept it as good enough to be its home. Here is where the mind becomes actually dazed. Being told by the ego that it is really part of the body and that the body is its protector, the mind is also told that the body cannot protect it. Therefore, the mind asks, “Where can I go for protection?” to which the ego replies, “Turn to me.” The mind, and not without cause, reminds the ego that it has itself insisted that it is identified with the body, so there is no point in turning to it for protection. The ego has no real answer to this because there is none, but it does have a typical solution. It obliterates the question from the mind’s awareness. Once out of awareness the question can and does produce uneasiness, but it cannot be answered because it cannot be asked.
This is the question that must be asked: “Where can I go for protection?” “Seek and ye shall find” does not mean that you should seek blindly and desperately for something you would not recognize. Meaningful seeking is consciously undertaken, consciously organized and consciously directed. The goal must be formulated clearly and kept in mind. Learning and wanting to learn are inseparable. You learn best when you believe what you are trying to learn is of value to you. However, not everything you may want to learn has lasting value. Indeed, many of the things you want to learn may be chosen because their value will not last.
The ego thinks it is an advantage not to commit itself to anything that is eternal, because the eternal must come from God. Eternalness is the one function the ego has tried to develop, but has systematically failed to achieve. The ego compromises with the issue of the eternal, just as it does with all issues touching on the real question in any way. By becoming involved with tangential issues, it hopes to hide the real question and keep it out of mind. The ego’s characteristic busy-ness with nonessentials is for precisely that purpose. Preoccupations with problems set up to be incapable of solution are favorite ego devices for impeding learning progress. In all these diversionary tactics, however, the one question that is never asked by those who pursue them is, “What for?” This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything. What is the purpose? Whatever it is, it will direct your efforts automatically. When you make a decision of purpose, then, you have made a decision about your future effort; a decision that will remain in effect unless you change your mind.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 2
There is another way of looking at the world.
Today’s idea is an attempt to recognize that you can shift your perception of the world in both its outer and inner aspects. A full five minutes should be devoted to the morning and evening applications. In these practice periods, the idea should be repeated as often as you find comfortable, though unhurried applications are essential. Alternate between surveying your outer and inner perceptions, but without an abrupt sense of shifting.
Merely glance casually around the world you perceive as outside yourself, then close your eyes and survey your inner thoughts with equal casualness. Try to remain equally uninvolved in both, and to maintain this detachment as you repeat the idea throughout the day.
The shorter exercise periods should be as frequent as possible. Specific applications of today’s idea should also be made immediately, when any situation arises which tempts you to become disturbed. For these applications, say:
There is another way of looking at this.
Remember to apply today’s idea the instant you are aware of distress. It may be necessary to take a minute or so to sit quietly and repeat the idea to yourself several times. Closing your eyes will probably help in this form of application.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #192: “I do not choose God’s channels wrongly” (T.4.VI.6:3). This line has always had a strong emotional impact on me (it made me cry, boosted my confidence, etc.), but sometimes I think this line perhaps was meant only personally for Helen?
A: It must always be remembered that A Course in Miracles came for Helen and Bill in response to their joining together to find a better way of relating. Therefore, many of the comments — especially in the early chapters — were meant for them; but clearly they can be seen as applying to all of us who struggle with the same issues with which they struggled. The statement you refer to, therefore, in no way implies that they were special, a meaning our egos would immediately see in it, as the ego knows only of separation. Helen did not see herself as specially blessed in any way, and very quickly corrected anyone who regarded her as special.
Connecting this statement with two other key statements further clarifies the meaning: “All my brothers are special” and “All are called” (T.1.V.3; T.3.IV.7). While using the language of the Bible, Jesus clearly corrects the traditional view that singles out certain special people: “many are called, but few are chosen,” or groups of people: “the chosen people.” He is basically telling us that we are not mistaken in thinking that we are dear to him.
At the beginning of Lesson 93, he describes the horribly negative self-concept we harbor deep within our minds — sometimes not very far beneath the surface. And then he tells us that we are so convinced that this is the truth about us that it is difficult for him to help us see that it is all based on nothing (W.pI.93.1,2). That explains why we would tend to think that Jesus was referring only to Helen and Bill, not us, a trend of thought he later calls arrogant. When we think that way, we ought to stop and reflect on where those thoughts are coming from, and how in feeling unworthy we are really telling Jesus he is wrong about us.
Then, too, we must remember that although our experience at first may be that of being chosen, that is not the reality. As we get further up the ladder, our experience will be that we are really allowing ourselves to experience love more and more, and resisting it less and less.
Q #401-a: A Course in Miracles urges us to give our minds back to God. I suppose that means having Him in our minds all the time. Is that correct? Is there anything we can do to get it without further delay?
Q #401-b: Jesus commended His Spirit to God, while he was nailed to the cross, and he tells us to do it as well. Can you explain this and how to do it?
Q #401-c: The Course says that if we apply all our abilities to a single unified purpose for a long time, they will become unified. How can we do it?
A: i. To give our minds back to God means that we would first realize that we somehow preferred to be to separate from Him and that we are actively maintaining that separation in our everyday lives. So Jesus helps us identify (especially in the workbook lessons) how we are doing that, so that we can then decide whether it is still worth it to continue on the path of separation, which is the path of specialness and separate interests. If we decide it is not worth it anymore, then we can simply decide against our deciding to be separate. This is done by being willing to practice seeing everyone as sharing the same wrong-minded thought system and the same right-minded thought system, and that the differences we perceive are not ultimately of any importance. Giving our minds back to God is giving our minds back to oneness, our natural state. What “delays” us is our tremendous resistance to this shift, because it means deciding against the special, individual self we have come to know as our only identity. Therefore the only motivation for making that shift is that we have recognized that this self is false and does not lead to happiness, and something else now appeals to us more. We need not let go of this self, just give it a different purpose now. Instead of using it to maintain separation and differences, we can now use it to undo the separation. That is how we begin the process of giving our minds back to God.
ii. Commending our spirit to God is really the same as giving our minds back to God — it is our willingness to undo all sense of separation from each other, acknowledging first that it is there because we wanted it to be there. “Nothing can prevail against a Son of God who commends his spirit into the Hands of his Father. By doing this the mind awakens from its sleep and remembers its Creator. All sense of separation disappears” (T.3.II.5:1,2,3). See also T.5.VII.3.
iii. By consistently practicing seeing our interests as the same as everyone else’s, we gradually eliminate conflict from our minds, and then they become more unified. The differences among us recede in importance, and our peace is found more and more in the acceptance of our oneness. If we use our lives and our everyday interactions as a means of undoing the separation, then we will no longer suffer the strain of having to face every day as if we were on a battleground filled with rivals and predators — a “kill or be killed” environment. When we rise above the battleground with Jesus, our perception will be unified: we will perceive either calls for love or expressions of love in all happenings. And this will be our permanent state of mind because it will reflect the true oneness of Heaven’s Love. We will want nothing else, having fully accepted that there is nothing else.