ACIM Text Reading for February 13
Chapter 5 ~ Healing and Wholeness
VIII. The Decision for God
Do you really believe you can make a voice that can drown out God’s? Do you really believe you can devise a thought system that can separate you from Him? Do you really believe you can plan for your safety and joy better than He can? You need be neither careful nor careless; you need merely cast your cares upon Him because He careth for you. You are His care because He loves you. His Voice reminds you always that all hope is yours because of His care. You cannot choose to escape His care because that is not His Will, but you can choose to accept His care and use the infinite power of His care for all those He created by it.
There have been many healers who did not heal themselves. They have not moved mountains by their faith because their faith was not whole. Some of them have healed the sick at times, but they have not raised the dead. Unless the healer heals himself, he cannot believe that there is no order of difficulty in miracles. He has not learned that every mind God created is equally worthy of being healed because God created it whole. You are merely asked to return to God the mind as He created it. He asks you only for what He gave, knowing that this giving will heal you. Sanity is wholeness, and the sanity of your brothers is yours.
Why should you listen to the endless insane calls you think are made upon you, when you can know the Voice for God is in you? God commended His Spirit to you, and asks that you commend yours to Him. He wills to keep it in perfect peace, because you are of one mind and spirit with Him. Excluding yourself from the Atonement is the ego’s last-ditch defense of its own existence. It reflects both the ego’s need to separate, and your willingness to side with its separateness. This willingness means that you do not want to be healed.
But the time is now. You have not been asked to work out the plan of salvation yourself because, as I told you before, the remedy could not be of your making. God Himself gave you the perfect Correction for everything you made that is not in accord with His holy Will. I am making His plan perfectly explicit to you, and will also tell you of your part in it, and how urgent it is to fulfill it. God weeps at the “sacrifice” of His children who believe they are lost to Him.
Whenever you are not wholly joyous, it is because you have reacted with a lack of love to one of God’s creations. Perceiving this as “sin” you become defensive because you expect attack. The decision to react in this way is yours, and can therefore be undone. It cannot be undone by repentance in the usual sense, because this implies guilt. If you allow yourself to feel guilty, you will reinforce the error rather than allow it to be undone for you.
Decision cannot be difficult. This is obvious, if you realize that you must already have decided not to be wholly joyous if that is how you feel. Therefore, the first step in the undoing is to recognize that you actively decided wrongly, but can as actively decide otherwise. Be very firm with yourself in this, and keep yourself fully aware that the undoing process, which does not come from you, is nevertheless within you because God placed it there. Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace. Say this to yourself as sincerely as you can, remembering that the Holy Spirit will respond fully to your slightest invitation:
- I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
- I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
- I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
- I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
- I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 13
God is the light in which I see.
Today we are continuing the idea for yesterday, adding another dimension to it. You cannot see in darkness, and you cannot make light. You can make darkness and then think you see in it, but light reflects life, and is therefore an aspect of creation. Creation and darkness cannot coexist, but light and life must go together, being but different aspects of creation.
In order to see, you must recognize that light is within, not without. You do not see outside yourself, nor is the equipment for seeing outside you. An essential part of this equipment is the light that makes seeing possible. It is with you always, making vision possible in every circumstance.
Today we are going to attempt to reach that light. For this purpose, we will use a form of exercise which has been suggested before, and which we will utilize increasingly. It is a particularly difficult form for the undisciplined mind, and represents a major goal of mind training. It requires precisely what the untrained mind lacks. Yet this training must be accomplished if you are to see.
Have at least three practice periods today, each lasting three to five minutes. A longer time is highly recommended, but only if you find the time slipping by with little or no sense of strain. The form of practice we will use today is the most natural and easy one in the world for the trained mind, just as it seems to be the most unnatural and difficult for the untrained mind.
Your mind is no longer wholly untrained. You are quite ready to learn the form of exercise we will use today, but you may find that you will encounter strong resistance. The reason is very simple. While you practice in this way, you leave behind everything that you now believe, and all the thoughts that you have made up. Properly speaking, this is the release from hell. Yet perceived through the ego’s eyes, it is loss of identity and a descent into hell.
If you can stand aside from the ego by ever so little, you will have no difficulty in recognizing that its opposition and its fears are meaningless. You might find it helpful to remind yourself, from time to time, that to reach light is to escape from darkness, whatever you may believe to the contrary. God is the light in which you see. You are attempting to reach Him.
Begin the practice period by repeating today’s idea with your eyes open, and close them slowly, repeating the idea several times more. Then try to sink into your mind, letting go every kind of interference and intrusion by quietly sinking past them. Your mind cannot be stopped in this unless you choose to stop it. It is merely taking its natural course. Try to observe your passing thoughts without involvement, and slip quietly by them.
While no particular approach is advocated for this form of exercise, what is needful is a sense of the importance of what you are doing; its inestimable value to you, and an awareness that you are attempting something very holy. Salvation is your happiest accomplishment. It is also the only one that has any meaning, because it is the only one that has any real use to you at all.
If resistance rises in any form, pause long enough to repeat today’s idea, keeping your eyes closed unless you are aware of fear. In that case, you will probably find it more reassuring to open your eyes briefly. Try, however, to return to the exercises with eyes closed as soon as possible.
If you are doing the exercises correctly, you should experience some sense of relaxation, and even a feeling that you are approaching, if not actually entering into light. Try to think of light, formless and without limit, as you pass by the thoughts of this world. And do not forget that they cannot hold you to the world unless you give them the power to do so.
Throughout the day repeat the idea often, with eyes open or closed as seems better to you at the time. But do not forget. Above all, be determined not to forget today.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #59: After all this time of studying the Course, I’m still not real clear on what forgiveness really is. Let’s say my ego mind labels someone as being a jerk. Well, I know on one level that I can’t possibly be right in that evaluation — I don’t really know this person and besides, I can’t judge another even if sometimes I do. So, what’s the next step? Not only have I made an unfair judgment; I’ve ended up feeling guilty for it.
A: When you take a minute or two to think differently about your judgment of another person, as you describe in your question, you have begun the forgiveness process, “A light has entered the darkness” (M.1.1:4). The first step is being willing to admit that we are wrong in our evaluation, and that there is another way of looking at the person. The next steps are being willing to let go of the original judgment, ask for another way of perceiving, and accept the new perception when it comes to you. This does not mean that you will no longer see people do foolish things. It means that you will not confuse the person’s true identity with the foolish behavior, nor condemn him for it, nor consider it a “sin.” People do and say foolish things; that is a fact. There are then two interpretations: one according to the ego, which says this foolish behavior makes this person a “jerk”; the other according to the Holy Spirit (forgiveness), which says the foolish behavior does not change the real fact that this person is not a “sinner,” and does not deserve my condemnation. This applies as well to the judgment against yourself. We might say that calling another person a “jerk” is foolish behavior. This does not mean you are a sinner deserving of punishment, but that you have made a mistake, and are in need of a new perception, a correction, forgiveness. The guilt that seems to be at the end of the process, after judging a person as a “jerk,” was actually already present in the mind prior to the “attack.” The guilt was projected out to the “jerk” in the form of the judgment, which then seems to cause the guilt. This is an example of the Course teaching: “Ideas leave not their source, and their effects but seem to be apart from them. Ideas are of the mind. What is projected out, and seems to be external to the mind, is not outside at all, but an effect of what is in, and has not left its source” (T.26.VII.4:7,8,9). The origin of the process is a thought of separation in the mind, followed by a judgment against yourself for the thought, and guilt for having thought it. The guilt is then projected out to someone else in the form of an attack, and it then returns to the mind in the form of guilt for the attack. This is the circular thinking of the ego’s game of guilt. Forgiveness asks that we recognize the original thought, and accept responsibility for the process. The way to forgive yourself for the original thought of separation is to offer forgiveness to the “jerk” by seeing him as no different from yourself; i.e., being in need of healing and of correction, and no different in his true identity as a holy Son of God: “Let not the form of his mistakes keep you from him whose holiness is yours. Let not the vision of his holiness, the sight of which would show you your forgiveness, be kept from you by what the body’s eyes can see. Let your awareness of your brother not be blocked by your perception of his sins and of his body. What is there in him that you would attack except what you associate with his body, which you believe can sin? Beyond his errors is his holiness and your salvation. You gave him not his holiness, but tried to see your sins in him to save yourself. And yet, his holiness is your forgiveness” (T.22.III.8:1,2,3,4,5,6,7).
Q #60: I seem to remember a passage that states the use of “white lies” may at times be appropriate in dealing with some relationships. What is Jesus saying here? I can only seem to relate it to the 12-step saying where we should always try to make amends except when to do so would cause more harm.
A: We have all experienced occasions when it is obvious that telling someone the truth on the level of form is simply not the loving thing to do. While there are no passages in the Course that specifically mention “white lies,” there are two passages that address this issue, and that relate to the 12-step saying you mention: “The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver.This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear” (T.2.IV.5).
In another passage Jesus says, “Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something ‘outrageous,’ do it because it does not matter” (T.12.III.4:1). Importantly, he qualifies this later by saying, “I have said that if a brother asks a foolish thing of you to do it. But be certain that this does not mean to do a foolish thing that would hurt either him or you, for what would hurt one will hurt the other” (T.16.I.6:4,5).
The key element in the Course’s approach is honesty, which is the second of the ten characteristics of a teacher of God, discussed in the manual for teachers (M.4). Jesus states there that honesty means consistency: “There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought…” (M.4.II.1). In other words, there is a consistency between your words (form) and your thoughts (content). If we set aside any ego investment in the situation, then only love will flow though us, and it will be expressed in a form that would be appropriate in that specific situation. The emphasis is on the content in our minds. If we are kind within, we will be kind on the outside. Our attention, thus, should be on searching for any unkindness lurking in our thoughts, and asking for help to let that go. Once we have gotten past the unkindness, whatever we say or do will be kind, in a form that is appropriate to the circumstances.