ACIM Text Reading for February 23
Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
IX. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom
We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.
The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He is judgmental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgment. This enables the mind to teach without judgment, and therefore to learn to be without judgment. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:
- “Be vigilant only for God and His Kingdom.”
This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasizes the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.
While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognizing this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.
Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.
You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition of the Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.
The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the center, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.
To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.
Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.
The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 23
Today we will review the following:
(11) My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.
Since the thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything, the world that pictures them can have no meaning. What is producing this world is insane, and so is what it produces. Reality is not insane, and I have real thoughts as well as insane ones. I can therefore see a real world, if I look to my real thoughts as my guide for seeing.
(12) I am upset because I see a meaningless world.
Insane thoughts are upsetting. They produce a world in which there is no order anywhere. Only chaos rules a world that represents chaotic thinking, and chaos has no laws. I cannot live in peace in such a world. I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it. And I do not choose to value what is totally insane and has no meaning.
(13) A meaningless world engenders fear.
The totally insane engenders fear because it is completely undependable, and offers no grounds for trust. Nothing in madness is dependable. It holds out no safety and no hope. But such a world is not real. I have given it the illusion of reality, and have suffered from my belief in it. Now I choose to withdraw this belief, and place my trust in reality. In choosing this, I will escape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledging that it does not exist.
(14) God did not create a meaningless world.
How can a meaningless world exist if God did not create it? He is the Source of all meaning, and everything that is real is in His Mind. It is in my mind too, because He created it with me. Why should I continue to suffer from the effects of my own insane thoughts, when the perfection of creation is my home? Let me remember the power of my decision, and recognize where I really abide.
(15) My thoughts are images that I have made.
Whatever I see reflects my thoughts. It is my thoughts that tell me where I am and what I am. The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see. Yet God’s way is sure. The images I have made cannot prevail against Him because it is not my will that they do so. My will is His, and I will place no other gods before Him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: Both and neither. I am in your dream if you react to me in any way, and you are in my dream if I react to you in any way. Strictly speaking — remembering we are talking about an illusory process — there is only one dreamer dreaming a dream of separation from God that involves denying responsibility for that choice to have a special, individual life of its own, which has become equated with sinfulness deserving of punishment. The means of carrying out this objective of keeping individuality while avoiding responsibility for it is to have a multitude of individuals in some form of victim-victimizer relationship. The internal sense of sinfulness can then be projected onto someone else who then is perceived as the guilty sinner. So if you and I are in a relationship, it is because a larger self has split off into this relationship between two people to conceal what is really going on in its mind.
A: First, true forgiveness never involves denying that something terrible happened. It focuses entirely on your thoughts and which teacher you choose to help you: the ego or Jesus. To the ego, your situation can be seen only through the eyes of separation: an innocent victim and a sinful victimizer. And the ego may support forgiveness, but it would still be in the context of an innocent victim forgiving a sinful victimizer. This is the common approach of the world and most religions of the world — that sin actually takes place but is forgiven. Jesus calls this false forgiveness or “forgiveness-to-destroy,” for despite the appearance of piety, it supports the thought system of separation, and therefore can never lead to lasting, true peace.
Forgiveness seen through Jesus’ eyes is marked by an absence of judgment or condemnation. Again, it does not deny attack or pain; and it does not mean that criminal prosecution cannot be pursued. The basis of this approach is our learning that the peace of God is in our minds because we are His Child. Because it is God’s peace, nothing whatsoever has power to take it away. We can choose to turn away from it, but we cannot destroy it. Nothing can. Therefore to blame someone or something else for our lack of peace is to engage in a form of self-deception. Casting blame denies the truth about the peace in our minds. The other dimension of this is that in our wrong minds we always carry the unbearable burden of guilt over our choice to separate ourselves from God. The pain of this guilt, as well as the expectation of extreme punishment for our sin, causes us to deny it in ourselves and project it onto someone outside us, who would then be seen as deserving of condemnation. Therefore, in our wrong minds we would use situations in the world for this purpose of getting rid of our guilt. Jesus teaches us that that strategy does not work, for the guilt just stays in our minds and is reinforced by the deception. (T.13.II.1:1,2; X.3:1,3,5,7)
Jesus would have us turn to him when we feel we have been victimized so that he could help us use the very same situation to unlearn what the ego taught us. Without denying the objective events that took place, Jesus would help us recognize our projection and then withdraw it, so that we can see the original mistake we made, which is judging ourselves guilty of having destroying love. He would help us realize the impossibility of that; and if we could accept it, we would be free of guilt and consequently be at peace, recognizing at the same time that that is the truth about everyone. In that state of mind, there is no way we could ever condemn ourselves or anyone else, regardless of what has been done behaviorally. The facts are still facts. But our reaction or interpretation would have changed completely. That is why Jesus explains that in true forgiveness we forgive what was not done to us.
From this place of love and peace in our minds, we would then do and say what is most loving for all concerned. What that would look like in any given situation cannot be determined ahead of time. It could mean having no further contact with the attacker, pursuing prosecution, talking with the person, going to therapy with the person, or any number of other things. But the perspective would no longer be that of victim and victimizer. Through the gentle eyes of Jesus, we would see that an attacker is a Son of God, too, and shares the same wrong and right mind and the ability to choose between them that we do. He would help us see that concealed beneath all viciousness is tremendous fear and a call for love. It cannot be stressed too much, though, that this does not involve the denial of the objective facts of the attack, or the pain one is feeling.
Finally, Jesus would help us learn that when we judge others as deserving of condemnation, we are doing the same thing to ourselves. He is always teaching us that we are all really one, and so because of this oneness, we cannot condemn another person without at the same time condemning ourselves. “Forgive and be forgiven. As you give you receive” (W.pI.122.6:3,4). This undoes the ego’s main principle that it is always one or the other: my innocence is bought at your expense. But Jesus does not underestimate the difficulty of our accepting this, or its importance in achieving our goal of inner peace. He states that this idea, “completely alien to the ego and the thinking of the world, is crucial to the thought reversal that this course will bring about. If you believed this statement, there would be no problem in complete forgiveness, certainty of goal, and sure direction. You would understand the means by which salvation comes to you, and would not hesitate to use it now” (W.pI.126.1).
Surely, comprehending A Course in Miracles metaphysics of non-dualism is necessary in order to relate to these ideas fully and avoid misinterpretations; so further study may be helpful. Also there are some other Questions on this Service that have addressed this area of the Course’s teachings: #174, #200, and #481.