ACIM Text Reading for February 21
Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
VIII. To Have Peace, Teach Peace to Learn It
All who believe in separation have a basic fear of retaliation and abandonment. They believe in attack and rejection, so that is what they perceive and teach and learn. These insane ideas are clearly the result of dissociation and projection. What you teach you are, but it is quite apparent that you can teach wrongly, and can therefore teach yourself wrong. Many thought I was attacking them, even though it was apparent I was not. An insane learner learns strange lessons. What you must recognize is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them. This is because everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centers on what you believe you are. If the center of the thought system is true, only truth extends from it. But if a lie is at its center, only deception proceeds from it.
All good teachers realize that only fundamental change will last, but they do not begin at that level. Strengthening motivation for change is their first and foremost goal. It is also their last and final one. Increasing motivation for change in the learner is all that a teacher need do to guarantee change. Change in motivation is a change of mind, and this will inevitably produce fundamental change because the mind is fundamental.
The first step in the reversal or undoing process is the undoing of the getting concept. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit’s first lesson was “To have, give all to all.” I said that this is apt to increase conflict temporarily, and we can clarify this still further now. At this point, the equality of having and being is not yet perceived. Until it is, having appears to be the opposite of giving. Therefore, the first lesson seems to contain a contradiction, since it is being learned by a conflicted mind. This means conflicting motivation, and so the lesson cannot be learned consistently as yet. Further, the mind of the learner projects its own conflict, and thus does not perceive consistency in the minds of others, making him suspicious of their motivation. This is the real reason why, in many respects, the first lesson is the hardest to learn. Still strongly aware of the ego in yourself, and responding primarily to the ego in others, you are being taught to react to both as if what you do believe is not true.
Upside down as always, the ego perceives the first lesson as insane. In fact, this is its only alternative since the other possibility, which would be much less acceptable to it, would obviously be that it is insane. The ego’s judgment, here as always, is predetermined by what it is. The fundamental change will still occur with the change of mind in the thinker. Meanwhile, the increasing clarity of the Holy Spirit’s Voice makes it impossible for the learner not to listen. For a time, then, he is receiving conflicting messages and accepting both.
The way out of conflict between two opposing thought systems is clearly to choose one and relinquish the other. If you identify with your thought system, and you cannot escape this, and if you accept two thought systems which are in complete disagreement, peace of mind is impossible. If you teach both, which you will surely do as long as you accept both, you are teaching conflict and learning it. Yet you do want peace, or you would not have called upon the Voice for peace to help you. Its lesson is not insane; the conflict is.
There can be no conflict between sanity and insanity. Only one is true, and therefore only one is real. The ego tries to persuade you that it is up to you to decide which voice is true, but the Holy Spirit teaches you that truth was created by God, and your decision cannot change it. As you begin to realize the quiet power of the Holy Spirit’s Voice, and Its perfect consistency, it must dawn on your mind that you are trying to undo a decision that was irrevocably made for you. That is why I suggested before that you remind yourself to allow the Holy Spirit to decide for God for you.
You are not asked to make insane decisions, although you can think you are. It must, however, be insane to believe that it is up to you to decide what God’s creations are. The Holy Spirit perceives the conflict exactly as it is. Therefore, His second lesson is:
- “To have peace, teach peace to learn it.”
This is still a preliminary step, since having and being are still not equated. It is, however, more advanced than the first step, which is really only the beginning of the thought reversal. The second step is a positive affirmation of what you want. This, then, is a step in the direction out of conflict, since it means that alternatives have been considered, and one has been chosen as more desirable. Nevertheless, the term “more desirable” still implies that the desirable has degrees. Therefore, although this step is essential for the ultimate decision, it is clearly not the final one. Lack of order of difficulty in miracles has not yet been accepted, because nothing is difficult that is wholly desired. To desire wholly is to create, and creating cannot be difficult if God Himself created you as a creator.
The second step, then, is still perceptual, although it is a giant step toward the unified perception that reflects God’s knowing. As you take this step and hold this direction, you will be pushing toward the center of your thought system, where the fundamental change will occur. At the second step progress is intermittent, but the second step is easier than the first because it follows. Realizing that it must follow is a demonstration of a growing awareness that the Holy Spirit will lead you on.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 21
Today’s review covers these ideas:
(6) I am upset because I see what is not there.
Reality is never frightening. It is impossible that it could upset me. Reality brings only perfect peace. When I am upset, it is always because I have replaced reality with illusions I made up. The illusions are upsetting because I have given them reality, and thus regard reality as an illusion. Nothing in God’s creation is affected in any way by this confusion of mine. I am always upset by nothing.
(7) I see only the past.
As I look about, I condemn the world I look upon. I call this seeing. I hold the past against everyone and everything, making them my enemies. When I have forgiven myself and remembered Who I am, I will bless everyone and everything I see. There will be no past, and therefore no enemies. And I will look with love on all that I failed to see before.
(8) My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.
I see only my own thoughts, and my mind is preoccupied with the past. What, then, can I see as it is? Let me remember that I look on the past to prevent the present from dawning on my mind. Let me understand that I am trying to use time against God. Let me learn to give the past away, realizing that in so doing I am giving up nothing.
(9) I see nothing as it is now.
If I see nothing as it is now, it can truly be said that I see nothing. I can see only what is now. The choice is not whether to see the past or the present; the choice is merely whether to see or not. What I have chosen to see has cost me vision. Now I would choose again, that I may see.
(10) My thoughts do not mean anything.
I have no private thoughts. Yet it is only private thoughts of which I am aware. What can these thoughts mean? They do not exist, and so they mean nothing. Yet my mind is part of creation and part of its Creator. Would I not rather join the thinking of the universe than to obscure all that is really mine with my pitiful and meaningless “private” thoughts?
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #406: In question #3, it was stated that if one believes he is still in this world that he should do his best in his role in it. This has bothered me quite a bit. I have been bothered by a voice that began in college that dictated to me what I should do in any situation. As I noticed it I would do the opposite of what it said and follow my gut. I was most surely not “doing my best” and was careless in my actions. Others made me feel guilty for this. Over time the guilt became horrible every time I would not listen to the “reason” of the voice. I began looking in my past with this voice and I still am haunted constantly with my mind bringing up my actions to this day. A Course in Miracles has been such a release from this torment and this tyranny. Does not the Course say be careless in all things but in forgiveness and love? Doing the best you can to me only implies judgment. Even though I did not do the best I could, in my mind and other people’s minds, I have been carried to safety and have been very successful. Please help me to understand this because the Course is my refuge and I don’t understand what you mean. It scares me to think the Course might not mean what I think it means.
A: First of all, rest assured that the statement you refer to from Question #3 is not meant to be taken as an admonition to evaluate your past and present performances and judge your adequacy or inadequacy in meeting the roles you have assumed. For the Course is never concerned with the specific forms that our lives take and our actions in the world. And it is also not concerned with cataloguing the errors of the past as a means of reinforcing our guilt. Its focus is on correcting only one error, which we are making in the present — our ongoing choice for the ego. And everything you describe of your voice for “reason” and your reactions to it are nothing more than your ego’s attempt to keep you in conflict within yourself and deprive you of peace in the present.
Having said that, let’s clarify what that statement in Question #3 about doing your best means. As that question points out, the forms or roles of our lives — although initially chosen to make separation, differences, specialness, and guilt real — become the classrooms in which we learn our forgiveness lessons, once we accept the Holy Spirit as our Teacher. In other words, our roles as student, employee, spouse, parent, etc., are the forms onto which we have projected our unconscious guilt, which now become the means, if we pay attention to our thoughts and reactions to them, for getting back in touch with that buried guilt in our mind.
Now it is not that there is some ego-ideal or standard that we should be striving to meet, against which we should be measuring ourselves in terms of fulfilling our roles — that’s an ego trap with all its trappings of grandiosity. The point being made here is that it is only a very practical concern with being true to the classroom that we have chosen for ourselves so that we can move more swiftly on our journey back home to the Role God has assigned us as His only Son. If we now or in the past have failed to meet our responsibilities in the world, it is not a sin and should not be employed as a means for reinforcing guilt — that would serve no helpful purpose.
But it is helpful to be honest with ourselves — rebelling against the so-called responsibilities of our roles is as much an ego ploy as slavishly trying to conform. Lack of attention or concern about those responsibilities at the level of form is almost always an expression of our authority problem — with the authorities of this world who, in our minds, represent the ultimate Authority, God, from Whom we have attempted to steal our independence and autonomy. And resistance to accepting the responsibility of our roles represents our resistance to uncovering the hidden guilt so that it can be released. Jesus is only asking that we be honest, but he will never condemn us if we’re not yet ready to look deeper.
As for the quote in the Course about being careless that you refer to, let’s look at it in the context of the whole passage:
You may wonder how you can be at peace when, while you are in time, there is so much that must be done before the way to peace is open. Perhaps this seems impossible to you. But ask yourself if it is possible that God would have a plan for your salvation that does not work. Once you accept His plan as the one function that you would fulfill, there will be nothing else the Holy Spirit will not arrange for you without your effort. He will go before you making straight your path, and leaving in your way no stones to trip on, and no obstacles to bar your way. Nothing you need will be denied you. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it. You need take thought for nothing, careless of everything except the only purpose that you would fulfill. As that was given you, so will its fulfillment be. God’s guarantee will hold against all obstacles, for it rests on certainty and not contingency. It rests on you. And what can be more certain than a Son of God? (T.20.IV.8; italics added to complete sentence).
You may notice that this passage begins by commenting on how much must be done in time. In particular, this is referring to all the special relationships that we must forgive, which include all the roles our lives assume. The key to taking “thought for nothing, careless of everything” comes earlier in the paragraph: “Once you accept His plan as the one function you would fulfill.” In other words, we will experience no resistance to anything we may seem to be called upon to do in the world because we will know that our only purpose is to forgive. And we will learn to welcome all the seeming challenges our lives present us, recognizing that each, looked at through the eyes of forgiveness, brings us one step closer to home. And so, we need not have care or concern for the form of our lives, because we will know that we are doing the only work that really matters.