ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 31

ACIM Text Reading for March 31

Chapter 11 ~ God or the Ego

IV. From Darkness to Light

When you are weary, remember you have hurt yourself. Your Comforter will rest you, but you cannot. You do not know how, for if you did you could never have grown weary. Unless you hurt yourself you could never suffer in any way, for that is not God’s Will for His Son. Pain is not of Him, for He knows no attack and His peace surrounds you silently. God is very quiet, for there is no conflict in Him. Conflict is the root of all evil, for being blind it does not see whom it attacks. Yet it always attacks the Son of God, and the Son of God is you.

God’s Son is indeed in need of comfort, for he knows not what he does, believing his will is not his own. The Kingdom is his, and yet he wanders homeless. At home in God he is lonely, and amid all his brothers he is friendless. Would God let this be real, if He did not will to be alone Himself? And if your will is His it cannot be true of you, because it is not true of Him.

O my child, if you knew what God wills for you, your joy would be complete! And what He wills has happened, for it was always true. When the light comes and you have said, “God’s Will is mine,” you will see such beauty that you will know it is not of you. Out of your joy you will create beauty in His Name, for your joy could no more be contained than His. The bleak little world will vanish into nothingness, and your heart will be so filled with joy that it will leap into Heaven, and into the Presence of God. I cannot tell you what this will be like, for your heart is not ready. Yet I can tell you, and remind you often, that what God wills for Himself He wills for you, and what He wills for you is yours.

The way is not hard, but it is very different. Yours is the way of pain, of which God knows nothing. That way is hard indeed, and very lonely. Fear and grief are your guests, and they go with you and abide with you on the way. But the dark journey is not the way of God’s Son. Walk in light and do not see the dark companions, for they are not fit companions for the Son of God, who was created of light and in light. The Great Light always surrounds you and shines out from you. How can you see the dark companions in a light such as this? If you see them, it is only because you are denying the light. But deny them instead, for the light is here and the way is clear.

God hides nothing from His Son, even though His Son would hide himself. Yet the Son of God cannot hide his glory, for God wills him to be glorious, and gave him the light that shines in him. You will never lose your way, for God leads you. When you wander, you but undertake a journey that is not real. The dark companions, the dark way, are all illusions. Turn toward the light, for the little spark in you is part of a light so great that it can sweep you out of all darkness forever. For your Father is your Creator, and you are like Him.

The children of light cannot abide in darkness, for darkness is not in them. Do not be deceived by the dark comforters, and never let them enter the mind of God’s Son, for they have no place in his temple. When you are tempted to deny Him remember that there are no other gods to place before Him, and accept His Will for you in peace. For you cannot accept it otherwise.

Only God’s Comforter can comfort you. In the quiet of His temple, He waits to give you the peace that is yours. Give His peace, that you may enter the temple and find it waiting for you. But be holy in the Presence of God, or you will not know that you are there. For what is unlike God cannot enter His Mind, because it was not His Thought and therefore does not belong to Him. And your mind must be as pure as His, if you would know what belongs to you. Guard carefully His temple, for He Himself dwells there and abides in peace. You cannot enter God’s Presence with the dark companions beside you, but you also cannot enter alone. All your brothers must enter with you, for until you have accepted them you cannot enter. For you cannot understand wholeness unless you are whole, and no part of the Son can be excluded if he would know the Wholeness of his Father.

In your mind you can accept the whole Sonship and bless it with the light your Father gave it. Then you will be worthy to dwell in the temple with Him, because it is your will not to be alone. God blessed His Son forever. If you will bless him in time, you will be in eternity. Time cannot separate you from God if you use it on behalf of the eternal.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 31

Lesson 90

For this review we will use these ideas:

(79) Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.

Let me realize today that the problem is always some form of grievance that I would cherish. Let me also understand that the solution is always a miracle with which I let the grievance be replaced. Today I would remember the simplicity of salvation by reinforcing the lesson that there is one problem and one solution. The problem is a grievance; the solution is a miracle. And I invite the solution to come to me through my forgiveness of the grievance, and my welcome of the miracle that takes its place.

Specific applications of this idea might be in these forms:

This presents a problem to me which I would have resolved.
The miracle behind this grievance will resolve it for me.
The answer to this problem is the miracle that it conceals.

(80) Let me recognize my problems have been solved.

I seem to have problems only because I am misusing time. I believe that the problem comes first, and time must elapse before it can be worked out. I do not see the problem and the answer as simultaneous in their occurrence. That is because I do not yet realize that God has placed the answer together with the problem, so that they cannot be separated by time. The Holy Spirit will teach me this, if I will let Him. And I will understand it is impossible that I could have a problem which has not been solved already.

These forms of the idea will be useful for specific applications:

I need not wait for this to be resolved.
The answer to this problem is already given me, if I will accept it.
Time cannot separate this problem from its solution.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #543: Would you kindly elaborate on the potential meanings and implications of these sentences from the text of A Course in Miracles: “God’s laws hold only for your protection, and they never hold in vain. What you experience when you deny your Father is still for your protection, for the power of your will cannot be lessened without the intervention of God against it, and any limitation on your power is not the Will of God” (T.11.IV.2:3,4).

A: When we identify with the ego thought system we will experience ourselves as separate beings, with interests that conflict and compete with others. This is not the truth, but if we acknowledge that everything we experience here is a consequence of that choice for the ego, we can at any time change that decision and choose against the ego, thereby regaining awareness of the oneness of the Sonship. In the paragraphs preceding and following the one you cite, this is what Jesus is talking about. He thus says explicitly, “Never forget that the Sonship is your salvation, for the Sonship is your Self” (1:1). And in speaking of our choice to judge certain people as not worthy of sharing the gifts God gave His Son, Jesus teaches us that we are thereby diminishing our own participation in these gifts, and it is the law of God that they be shared without limit: “Would you cut off a brother from the light that is yours? You would not do so if you realized that you can darken only your own mind. As you bring him back, so will you return. That is the law of God, for the protection of the Wholeness of His Son” (3:4,5,6,7).

God’s Son is One — that is His law. So even if in our delusional state we experience ourselves as separate, God’s law still holds. Nothing can prevail against it. Our obstinacy in maintaining that we are right is therefore futile, and all of our attempts to abdicate responsibility for our separated state by blaming others for our suffering and problems are futile as well. If it is God’s Will that the Sonship be whole, then it is our will too. That is the principle of the Atonement, which is represented in our right minds. Thus, in the next chapter (T.12.I), Jesus teaches that our denial of our Identity as part of God is a call for help, which means that if we are denying something, it must be there. That is our protection; the Atonement is our protection. We can never truly separate ourselves from our Source, nor from the oneness in which God created us.

complete forgiveness

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 30

ACIM Text Reading for March 30

Chapter 11 ~ God or the Ego

III. The Invitation to Healing

If sickness is separation, the decision to heal and to be healed is the first step toward recognizing what you truly want. Every attack is a step away from this, and every healing thought brings it closer. The Son of God has both Father and Son, because he is both Father and Son. To unite having and being is to unite your will with His, for He wills you Himself. And you will yourself to Him because, in your perfect understanding of Him, you know there is but one Will. Yet when you attack any part of God and His Kingdom your understanding is not perfect, and what you really want is therefore lost to you.

Healing thus becomes a lesson in understanding, and the more you practice it the better teacher and learner you become. If you have denied truth, what better witnesses to its reality could you have than those who have been healed by it? But be sure to count yourself among them, for in your willingness to join them is your healing accomplished. Every miracle that you accomplish speaks to you of the Fatherhood of God. Every healing thought that you accept, either from your brother or in your own mind, teaches you that you are God’s Son. In every hurtful thought you hold, wherever you perceive it, lies the denial of God’s Fatherhood and of your Sonship.

And denial is as total as love. You cannot deny part of yourself, because the rest will seem to be separate and therefore without meaning. And being without meaning to you, you will not understand it. To deny meaning is to fail to understand. You can heal only yourself, for only God’s Son needs healing. You need it because you do not understand yourself, and therefore know not what you do. Having forgotten your will, you do not know what you really want.

Healing is a sign that you want to make whole. And this willingness opens your ears to the Voice of the Holy Spirit, Whose message is wholeness. He will enable you to go far beyond the healing you would undertake, for beside your small willingness to make whole He will lay His Own complete Will and make yours whole. What can the Son of God not accomplish with the Fatherhood of God in him? And yet the invitation must come from you, for you have surely learned that whom you invite as your guest will abide with you.

The Holy Spirit cannot speak to an unwelcoming host, because He will not be heard. The Eternal Guest remains, but His Voice grows faint in alien company. He needs your protection, only because your care is a sign that you want Him. Think like Him ever so slightly, and the little spark becomes a blazing light that fills your mind so that He becomes your only Guest. Whenever you ask the ego to enter, you lessen His welcome. He will remain, but you have allied yourself against Him. Whatever journey you choose to take, He will go with you, waiting. You can safely trust his patience, for He cannot leave a part of God. Yet you need far more than patience.

You will never rest until you know your function and fulfill it, for only in this can your will and your Father’s be wholly joined. To have Him is to be like Him, and He has given Himself to you. You who have God must be as God, for His function became yours with His gift. Invite this knowledge back into your mind, and let nothing that obscures it enter. The Guest Whom God sent you will teach you how to do this, if you but recognize the little spark and are willing to let it grow. Your willingness need not be perfect, because His is. If you will merely offer Him a little place, He will lighten it so much that you will gladly let it be increased. And by this increase, you will begin to remember creation.

Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God? You will accept only whom you invite. You are free to determine who shall be your guest, and how long he shall remain with you. Yet this is not real freedom, for it still depends on how you see it. The Holy Spirit is there, although He cannot help you without your invitation. And the ego is nothing, whether you invite it in or not. Real freedom depends on welcoming reality, and of your guests only the Holy Spirit is real. Know, then, Who abides with you merely by recognizing what is there already, and do not be satisfied with imaginary comforters, for the Comforter of God is in you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 30

Lesson 89

These are our review ideas for today:

(77) I am entitled to miracles.

I am entitled to miracles because I am under no laws but God’s. His laws release me from all grievances, and replace them with miracles. And I would accept the miracles in place of the grievances, which are but illusions that hide the miracles beyond. Now I would accept only what the laws of God entitle me to have, that I may use it on behalf of the function He has given me.

You might use these suggestions for specific applications of this idea:

Behind this is a miracle to which I am entitled.
Let me not hold a grievance against you, [name],
but offer you the miracle that belongs to you instead.
Seen truly, this offers me a miracle.

 

(78) Let miracles replace all grievances.

By this idea do I unite my will with the Holy Spirit’s, and perceive them as one. By this idea do I accept my release from hell. By this idea do I express my willingness to have all my illusions be replaced with truth, according to God’s plan for my salvation. I would make no exceptions and no substitutes. I want all of Heaven and only Heaven, as God wills me to have.

Useful specific forms for applying this idea would be:

I would not hold this grievance apart from my salvation.
Let our grievances be replaced by miracles, [name].
Beyond this is the miracle by which all my grievances are replaced.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #37: This question is an edited combination of two separate questions that were submitted on the theme of choice and predetermination or destiny in A Course in Miracles:

As I understand it, in this dream of separation my only real choice is which teacher I choose in every situation I find myself: the ego or the Holy Spirit. As for the dream itself, we are told that the script is already written. But I wonder, can I, as the dreamer of the dream, change the dream in terms of the specific events that unfold. Or can I change the dream only in terms of my perspective on the situation? In other words, is everything that I’m experiencing predestined when it comes to situations and relationships, etc.? That would mean that I’m walking through an old dream of separation, like watching an old movie, that my marriage could never have lasted longer than it did, I could never have had more than the number of children I have now, and the relationship I’m in now is already fully defined in terms of time, etc. As I’m given the opportunity to ‘save time’ by choosing the Holy Spirit as my teacher, it would mean only that I’m allowed to skip certain parts of the story. Is it like this?

But it also seems that the Course encourages us not to exchange an unholy relationship for yet another unholy relationship with someone else, as we search for happiness we will never find outside of ourselves, but instead to make the relationship we are in a holy one. This seems to indicate that we do have choices in terms of the story, the people we’re meeting, etc. So then there could be several possible versions of my lifetime. One might include two or more briefer marriages with different spouses while another might involve remaining in the same marriage for many years. But Jesus says that nothing is left to coincidence and that every meeting is planned. Or does the form simply not matter and do I just see shadows, projecting my own images on them? But then why is it that the script of my life, if it is already determined, seems to have such a significant effect on other people’s lives?

Jesus also says that what we see is the judgment we first passed on ourselves, and outside of that there is no world. Does that mean that, for example, if there is a war between the United States and Iraq, I could have done something to stop it? Did it already happen and was it corrected, so that if I’m seeing a war instead of peace, does that mean that my mind still needs to be corrected because I am still choosing the wrong teacher? Or could I have done nothing to avoid the war and do I just choose which teacher with whom to view the events. And would I see nothing but innocence on both sides if I choose the Holy Spirit?

A: To address completely all the questions and issues you’ve raised could take a book (and there is a book, A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles by Kenneth Wapnick, which you may find helpful to amplify some of the points that we’ll address briefly here).

The Course does say that our only real choice is between the ego and Holy Spirit, the emphasis being on “real.” But within the dream, there are nearly an infinite number — although not infinite, only nearly infinite, because the ego can not make anything that is either infinite or eternal (T.4.I.11:7) — of alternatives we can choose among at the level of form. But their underlying content is all the same — sin, guilt and fear – and so the Course emphasizes that there is no real choice among alternatives that are really all the same. Meaningful choice can be made only on the level of content and so the only real choice is between the guilt and fear of the ego and the forgiveness and love of the Holy Spirit. So, yes, there are many different forms or sequences of events that our lives may take as a result of our seeming choices, but so long as we are choosing with the ego, believing that happiness can be found outside ourselves, nothing will really change, although our circumstances and relationships may alter significantly. By the way, the Course does not actually encourage us to remain physically in a relationship in order to make it holy — it never advises us on the level of specifics or form. When it cautions us about “getting rid of your brother” (T.17.V.7:2), it is speaking of how we are perceiving our brother in our mind, including in particular all of the special fantasies we have associated with him that are no longer being fulfilled.

Now the Course also says, as you remark, that the script is already written (W.pI.158.4:3) and that everything in time has already happened, so that our lives are nothing more than seeing “the journey from where it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (4:5). And while Jesus says that nothing happens by chance, he is clearly attributing the responsibility for choice for all the experiences of our lives to our own mind (T-21.II.3:1,2,3). But this does not mean that everything in our lives is predetermined, that the sequence of events is fixed. We are always choosing from an array of many possible events that have all already occurred, but the unique sequencing and the vast number of past events we’re choosing from, combined with our repressing any memory of any of them and our belief that time itself is both real and linear, add to the feeling that it is all new. And this is all part of the ego defense to mislead us into believing something new and meaningful is happening in our lives, reinforcing the foolish hope that somehow this time our ego choice in the world of form will have a better outcome.

To understand the seeming effect of our lives on each other, we need to step back and look from outside the dream of the world, and return our attention to the mind where all choices are really being made. The nearly infinite number of possible events in time was written in one instant by the one (collective) mind, joined with the ego, before the fragmentary projection out into the world of separate individuals and lives seemed to happen. As Jesus explains, “time but lasted an instant in your mind, with no effect upon eternity. And so is all time past…The tiny tick of time in which the first mistake was made, and all of them with that one mistake” (T.26.3:3,4,5, italics added).

Now my individual dream is separate and can not truly be shared with anyone else. But since all minds are joined, any decision that I make to interact as a body with you, or that you make to interact as a body with me, must always reflect an agreement we both have made together, at the level of mind outside of time and space, to replay certain events in time and space that have already happened. And this joint agreement must be kept buried in our unconscious if it is to be effective in supporting the ego’s purpose of separation and victimization.

Jesus speaks of this joint decision, specifically in the context of our agreement to be hurt by each other, as “the secret vow that you have made with every brother that would walk apart.…Unstated and unheard in consciousness…it is a promise to another to be hurt by him, and to attack him in return.…so that [the body] will suffer pain. It is the obvious effect of what was made in secret, in agreement with another’s secret wish to be apart from you, as you would be apart from him. Unless you both agree that is your wish, it can have no effects” (T.28.VI.4:3,6,7; 5:1,2,3). This hidden joint agreement to seem to be affected by each other must be the case, for otherwise we would be the victim of each other’s decisions. While this joint agreement about form is true at a metaphysical level, at a practical level it is much more helpful to focus on the fact that in the world, as the physical self with which I identify, I am not able to control what others do, but I nevertheless always have a choice about how I will perceive what is happening in my life. I can decide which teacher I will invite in, and whether I will see my peace of mind as dependent only on my own choice — as the Holy Spirit would teach — or whether I choose to see others as having power to take away my peace of mind — accepting the ego’s teaching that I can be victimized and therefore am not responsible for how I feel.

As to whether or not a healed mind sees war and has any choice about it, it is apparent that Jesus recognizes the conflicts of our ego — he spends a great deal of the Course pointing out the ego’s sick dynamics to us — but that does not mean his mind is not healed. What is important is that he is not judging us as he uncovers our ego’s machinations. He sees everything as either an extension of love or a call for it (T.12.I.3:1,2,3,4). When we are joined with Jesus in our minds, we will see any conflict in the world, at either an individual or an international level, in that same light. We will not deny what our eyes see, but our interpretation will be different from the world’s interpretation. In the context of sickness, the Course observes that “the body’s eyes will continue to see differences. But the mind that has let itself be healed will no longer acknowledge them. There will be those who seem to be ‘sicker’ than others, and the body’s eyes will report their changed appearances as before. But the healed mind will put them all in one category; they are unreal” (M-8.6:1-4). And this healed perception can arise only after our mind has released its belief in the value of conflict and war as a means for projecting the guilt of separation outside of our own mind. We may have agreed to participate in a collective dream where an external war is played out in order to reinforce the ego’s perception of the world as one of victims and victimizers – but we can in any instant ask for help, first recognizing the ego’s purpose for war and then deciding we no longer wish to reinforce that insanity in our own mind. And before we would see innocence on all sides of the conflict, we would first see the insanity on all sides, and recognize it is the same insanity we share with everyone else when we are identified with the ego.

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 26

ACIM Text Reading for March 26

Chapter 10 ~ The Idols of Sickness

V. The End of Sickness

All magic is an attempt at reconciling the irreconcilable. All religion is the recognition that the irreconcilable cannot be reconciled. Sickness and perfection are irreconcilable. If God created you perfect, you are perfect. If you believe you can be sick, you have placed other gods before Him. God is not at war with the god of sickness you made, but you are. He is the symbol of deciding against God, and you are afraid of him because he cannot be reconciled with God’s Will. If you attack him, you will make him real to you. But if you refuse to worship him in whatever form he may appear to you, and wherever you think you see him, he will disappear into the nothingness out of which he was made.

Reality can dawn only on an unclouded mind. It is always there to be accepted, but its acceptance depends on your willingness to have it. To know reality must involve the willingness to judge unreality for what it is. To overlook nothingness is merely to judge it correctly, and because of your ability to evaluate it truly, to let it go. Knowledge cannot dawn on a mind full of illusions, because truth and illusions are irreconcilable. Truth is whole, and cannot be known by part of a mind.

The Sonship cannot be perceived as partly sick, because to perceive it that way is not to perceive it at all. If the Sonship is one, it is one in all respects. Oneness cannot be divided. If you perceive other gods your mind is split, and you will not be able to limit the split, because it is the sign that you have removed part of your mind from God’s Will. This means it is out of control. To be out of control is to be out of reason, and then the mind does become unreasonable. By defining the mind wrongly, you perceive it as functioning wrongly.

God’s laws will keep your mind at peace because peace is His Will, and His laws are established to uphold it. His are the laws of freedom, but yours are the laws of bondage. Since freedom and bondage are irreconcilable, their laws cannot be understood together. The laws of God work only for your good, and there are no other laws beside His. Everything else is merely lawless and therefore chaotic. Yet God Himself has protected everything He created by His laws. Everything that is not under them does not exist. “Laws of chaos” is a meaningless term. Creation is perfectly lawful, and the chaotic is without meaning because it is without God. You have “given” your peace to the gods you made, but they are not there to take it from you, and you cannot give it to them.

You are not free to give up freedom, but only to deny it. You cannot do what God did not intend, because what He did not intend does not happen. Your gods do not bring chaos; you are endowing them with chaos, and accepting it of them. All this has never been. Nothing but the laws of God has ever been, and nothing but His Will will ever be. You were created through His laws and by His Will, and the manner of your creation established you a creator. What you have made is so unworthy of you that you could hardly want it, if you were willing to see it as it is. You will see nothing at all. And your vision will automatically look beyond it, to what is in you and all around you. Reality cannot break through the obstructions you interpose, but it will envelop you completely when you let them go.

When you have experienced the protection of God, the making of idols becomes inconceivable. There are no strange images in the Mind of God, and what is not in His Mind cannot be in yours, because you are of one mind and that mind belongs to Him. It is yours because it belongs to Him, for to Him ownership is sharing. And if it is so for Him, it is so for you. His definitions are His laws, for by them He established the universe as what it is. No false gods you attempt to interpose between yourself and your reality affect truth at all. Peace is yours because God created you, and He created nothing else.

The miracle is the act of a Son of God who has laid aside all false gods, and calls on his brothers to do likewise. It is an act of faith, because it is the recognition that his brother can do it. It is a call to the Holy Spirit in his mind, a call that is strengthened by joining. Because the miracle worker has heard God’s Voice, he strengthens It in a sick brother by weakening his belief in sickness, which he does not share. The power of one mind can shine into another, because all the lamps of God were lit by the same spark. It is everywhere and it is eternal.

In many only the spark remains, for the Great Rays are obscured. Yet God has kept the spark alive so that the Rays can never be completely forgotten. If you but see the little spark you will learn of the greater light, for the Rays are there unseen. Perceiving the spark will heal, but knowing the light will create. Yet in the returning the little light must be acknowledged first, for the separation was a descent from magnitude to littleness. But the spark is still as pure as the Great Light, because it is the remaining call of creation. Put all your faith in it, and God Himself will answer you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 26

Lesson 85
Today’s review will cover these ideas:

(69) My grievances hide the light of the world in me.

My grievances show me what is not there, and hide from me what I would see. Recognizing this, what do I want my grievances for? They keep me in darkness and hide the light. Grievances and light cannot go together, but light and vision must be joined for me to see. To see, I must lay grievances aside. I want to see, and this will be the means by which I will succeed.

Specific applications for this idea might be made in these forms:

Let me not use this as a block to sight.
The light of the world will shine all this away.
I have no need for this. I want to see.
(70) My salvation comes from me.

Today I will recognize where my salvation is. It is in me because its Source is there. It has not left its Source, and so it cannot have left my mind. I will not look for it outside myself. It is not found outside and then brought in. But from within me it will reach beyond, and everything I see will but reflect the light that shines in me and in itself.

These forms of the idea are suitable for more specific applications:

Let this not tempt me to look away from me for my salvation.
I will not let this interfere with my awareness of the Source of my salvation.
This has no power to remove salvation from me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #929: A Course in Miracles states the ego “sees no difference between miracle impulses and ego-alien beliefs of its own… [and] …makes no distinctions between these two very different kinds of threat” (T.9.VIII.3:1,2). I know this is comparing grandeur and grandiosity and the fact that the ego is aware of something else, greater than it “out-there” (or actually, in-there). But we are confused about what may indeed be the ego’s own alien (not of or outside of itself?) beliefs. Is it accurate to say that the ego is constantly aware of this “other” presence? We know that it is not aware of the Holy Spirit (Voice for God) per se so would it be us as the decision maker? Exactly what are the two very different threats?

A: Miracle impulses of course emanate from the right-mind, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and their purpose is to undo our belief in the ego. It is apparent why the ego would perceive such impulses as a threat, even though it cannot really understand them. Ego-alien beliefs, on the other hand, have their origins in the ego thought system, but represent the split off thoughts of the ego that it is attempting to deny responsibility for, including thoughts of attack and guilt and weakness and limitation, which, while inventions of the ego, need to be seen as outside itself to work as defenses. And so thoughts of revenge and destruction attributed to forces outside itself ironically trigger as much a sense of threat to the ego, even though paradoxically they are part of the ego’s scheme for self-preservation. And it is these threats, as much as the fear of the unknown represented by miracle impulses, which incite the ego to self-inflating delusions of grandiosity.

There is a very simple explanation for the single, common ego perception and response to both sources of threat. The ego is very simply a thought of attack, and so its only reaction to anything perceived to be outside itself — real or imaginary — must be to attack, either now or later (T.9.VIII.3:4,5,6) . The attack may be either direct (special hate) or indirect (special love), but attack is all that the ego is capable of. With special love, or where the balance of power seems overwhelmingly against it, the attack may be disguised, but the content is nevertheless nothing other than attack. And so the ego does not and cannot distinguish between the content of any thought that it attacks. Much as the Holy Spirit’s judgment, seeing everything as either an extension of love or a call for love, responds only with love (T.12.I.3) , so the ego, regardless of the nature of the content it encounters, sees everything only as a threat to its continued existence and responds only with hate and attack.

So, to the ego, the enemy is both any right-minded thought that reflects the truth of who we are in our unlimitedness — the grandeur of our true Self — as well as any ego-based thought, including the body, which challenges or undermines the ego’s imaginary “autonomy” and “supremacy.” Ironically, as already noted, the other ego thoughts it attacks are merely split off parts of itself, but the ego is capable of perceiving only threat from anything seen as outside itself (T.4.V.2,3) .

A third source of perceived threat, as you have observed, is the power of our mind to choose between those right-minded and wrong-minded thoughts for, as much as the ego may hate us, it is dependent on the power of our mind to choose it for its continued existence (T.6.IV.4:1,2; T.7.VI.3) .

And so, we can say unequivocally that “the ego is quite literally a fearful thought” (T.5.V.3:7) . So long as we remain identified with the ego, we can only vacillate between various forms of fear and attack, or suspiciousness and viciousness (T.9.VII.3:4,5,6,7,8,9,10) . If we could look very honestly at all of our reactions to everything around us when we are in our wrong-mind, we would recognize that this is really the only content we are capable of experiencing as an ego.

The insanity of the ego’s defenses is most clearly seen in the self-inflation of its own grandiosity, which is always an attack on a made-up other as a defense against the ego’s intrinsic sense of littleness and vulnerability. The other must be held responsible for the feelings of inadequacy, rather than seeing them simply as a result of our choice for the ego itself in the first place.

Q #930: Some people are giving psychotherapy training based on A Course in Miracles . Is that really necessary or should I just stay with the Course itself?

A: People are free to do whatever they choose with the Course, either treating it as a total and complete thought system within itself — which it is — or attempting to combine it with whatever other teachings they are already familiar, whether they be alternative spiritual paths, self-help techniques, or various therapeutic models. Almost without exception, however, any attempt at integrating the Course with these other practices will involve some compromise of the Course’s radical principle of nonduality, as people, often without consciously realizing what they are doing, end up bringing its profound teaching down to their own level of understanding and comfort. There certainly is nothing bad or “sinful” about these kinds of integrative efforts, but they will almost certainly dilute the Course’s message and mix levels of teaching in an unhelpful way, confusing the student and reducing the value of both the Course and what it is being combined with.

Confusion arises because the Course is never saying anything about behavior, and almost every other teaching at some level addresses the issue of how we are acting in the world and relating interpersonally with others. And the Course is simply not concerned with inter personal issues, except as they are a mirror of what is happening at an intra personal level, that is, with decisions being made at the level of mind, where the illusory experience of being a separate, individual person originates. Changes may in turn be reflected at an interpersonal level, but that would never be the Course’s focus or concern.

And so you will do well simply to direct your efforts at understanding and applying the forgiveness principles of the Course as it stands on its own, recognizing that its only purpose is to bring about a change in how you see, or interpret, the world, and not to change the world that you see. Other approaches, such as psychotherapy, may certainly also have value and serve a very useful purpose in your life. The only mistake would be to attempt to combine them with the Course’s principles, rather than simply accepting their helpfulness at their own level.

health is inner peace

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 27

ACIM Text Reading for March 27

Chapter 10 ~ The Idols of Sickness

VI. The Denial of God

The rituals of the god of sickness are strange and very demanding. Joy is never permitted, for depression is the sign of allegiance to him. Depression means that you have forsworn God. Many are afraid of blasphemy, but they do not understand what it means. They do not realize that to deny God is to deny their own Identity, and in this sense the wages of sin is death. The sense is very literal; denial of life perceives its opposite, as all forms of denial replace what is with what is not. No one can really do this, but that you can think you can and believe you have is beyond dispute.

Do not forget, however, that to deny God will inevitably result in projection, and you will believe that others and not yourself have done this to you. You must receive the message you give because it is the message you want. You may believe that you judge your brothers by the messages they give you, but you have judged them by the message you give to them. Do not attribute your denial of joy to them, or you cannot see the spark in them that would bring joy to you. It is the denial of the spark that brings depression, for whenever you see your brothers without it, you are denying God.

Allegiance to the denial of God is the ego’s religion. The god of sickness obviously demands the denial of health, because health is in direct opposition to its own survival. But consider what this means to you. Unless you are sick you cannot keep the gods you made, for only in sickness could you possibly want them. Blasphemy, then, is self-destructive, not God-destructive. It means that you are willing not to know yourself in order to be sick. This is the offering your god demands because, having made him out of your insanity, he is an insane idea. He has many forms, but although he may seem to be many different things he is but one idea; — the denial of God.

Sickness and death seemed to enter the mind of God’s Son against His Will. The “attack on God” made His Son think he was Fatherless, and out of his depression he made the god of depression. This was his alternative to joy, because he would not accept the fact that, although he was a creator, he had been created. Yet the Son is helpless without the Father, Who alone is his Help.

I said before that of yourself you can do nothing, but you are not of yourself. If you were, what you have made would be true, and you could never escape. It is because you did not make yourself that you need be troubled over nothing. Your gods are nothing, because your Father did not create them. You cannot make creators who are unlike your Creator, any more than He could have created a Son who was unlike Him. If creation is sharing, it cannot create what is unlike itself. It can share only what it is. Depression is isolation, and so it could not have been created.

Son of God, you have not sinned, but you have been much mistaken. Yet this can be corrected and God will help you, knowing that you could not sin against Him. You denied Him because you loved Him, knowing that if you recognized your love for Him, you could not deny Him. Your denial of Him therefore means that you love Him, and that you know He loves you. Remember that what you deny you must have once known. And if you accept denial, you can accept its undoing.

Your Father has not denied you. He does not retaliate, but He does call to you to return. When you think He has not answered your call, you have not answered His. He calls to you from every part of the Sonship, because of His Love for His Son. If you hear His message He has answered you, and you will learn of Him if you hear aright. The Love of God is in everything He created, for His Son is everywhere. Look with peace upon your brothers, and God will come rushing into your heart in gratitude for your gift to Him.

Do not look to the god of sickness for healing but only to the God of love, for healing is the acknowledgment of Him. When you acknowledge Him you will know that He has never ceased to acknowledge you, and that in His acknowledgment of you lies your being. You are not sick and you cannot die. But you can confuse yourself with things that do. Remember, though, that to do this is blasphemy, for it means that you are looking without love on God and His creation, from which He cannot be separated.

Only the eternal can be loved, for love does not die. What is of God is His forever, and you are of God. Would He allow Himself to suffer? And would He offer His Son anything that is not acceptable to Him? If you will accept yourself as God created you, you will be incapable of suffering. Yet to do this you must acknowledge Him as your Creator. This is not because you will be punished otherwise. It is merely because your acknowledgment of your Father is the acknowledgment of yourself as you are. Your Father created you wholly without sin, wholly without pain and wholly without suffering of any kind. If you deny Him you bring sin, pain and suffering into your own mind because of the power He gave it. Your mind is capable of creating worlds, but it can also deny what it creates because it is free.

You do not realize how much you have denied yourself, and how much God, in His Love, would not have it so. Yet He would not interfere with you, because He would not know His Son if he were not free. To interfere with you would be to attack Himself, and God is not insane. When you deny Him you are insane. Would you have Him share your insanity? God will never cease to love His Son, and His Son will never cease to love Him. That was the condition of His Son’s creation, fixed forever in the Mind of God. To know that is sanity. To deny it is insanity. God gave Himself to you in your creation, and His gifts are eternal. Would you deny yourself to Him?

Out of your gifts to Him the Kingdom will be restored to His Son. His Son removed himself from His gift by refusing to accept what had been created for him, and what he had created in the Name of his Father. Heaven waits for his return, for it was created as the dwelling place of God’s Son. You are not at home anywhere else, or in any other condition. Do not deny yourself the joy that was created for you for the misery you have made for yourself. God has given you the means for undoing what you have made. Listen, and you will learn how to remember what you are.

If God knows His children as wholly sinless, it is blasphemous to perceive them as guilty. If God knows His children as wholly without pain, it is blasphemous to perceive suffering anywhere. If God knows His children to be wholly joyous, it is blasphemous to feel depressed. All of these illusions, and the many other forms that blasphemy may take, are refusals to accept creation as it is. If God created His Son perfect, that is how you must learn to see him to learn of his reality. And as part of the Sonship, that is how you must see yourself to learn of yours.

Do not perceive anything God did not create or you are denying Him. His is the only Fatherhood, and it is yours only because He has given it to you. Your gifts to yourself are meaningless, but your gifts to your creations are like His, because they are given in His Name. That is why your creations are as real as His. Yet the real Fatherhood must be acknowledged if the real Son is to be known. You believe that the sick things you have made are your real creations, because you believe that the sick images you perceive are the Sons of God. Only if you accept the Fatherhood of God will you have anything, because His Fatherhood gave you everything. That is why to deny Him is to deny yourself.

Arrogance is the denial of love, because love shares and arrogance withholds. As long as both appear to you to be desirable the concept of choice, which is not of God, will remain with you. While this is not true in eternity it is true in time, so that while time lasts in your mind there will be choices. Time itself is your choice. If you would remember eternity, you must look only on the eternal. If you allow yourself to become preoccupied with the temporal, you are living in time. As always, your choice is determined by what you value. Time and eternity cannot both be real, because they contradict each other. If you will accept only what is timeless as real, you will begin to understand eternity and make it yours.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 27

Lesson 86
These ideas are for review today:

(71) Only God’s plan for salvation will work.

It is senseless for me to search wildly about for salvation. I have seen it in many people and in many things, but when I reached for it, it was not there. I was mistaken about where it is. I was mistaken about what it is. I will undertake no more idle seeking. Only God’s plan for salvation will work. And I will rejoice because His plan can never fail.

These are some suggested forms for applying this idea specifically:

God’s plan for salvation will save me from my perception of this.
This is no exception in God’s plan for my salvation.
Let me perceive this only in the light of God’s plan for salvation.

(72) Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation.

Holding grievances is an attempt to prove that God’s plan for salvation will not work. Yet only His plan will work. By holding grievances, I am therefore excluding my only hope of salvation from my awareness. I would no longer defeat my own best interests in this insane way. I would accept God’s plan for salvation, and be happy.

Specific applications for this idea might be in these forms:

I am choosing between misperception and salvation as I look on this.
If I see grounds for grievances in this, I will not see the grounds for my salvation.
This calls for salvation, not attack.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #157: In his teaching, Ken Wapnick says that God doesn’t even know that we exist; that we are here in the world. Where in A Course in Miracles does it say that, or what passage implies that? I don’t have a problem with the statement, because I understand that in the Course “existence” refers to our belief in the ego, the belief that we are bodies, and “being” refers to our state of oneness in Heaven. So it would make sense that God does not “know” us in our ego state. But can you clarify where it comes from? Also, where in the Course does Jesus make reference to the “decision maker” that Ken refers to so often?

A: The statement that God does not even know that we exist, as you suggest, follows from an understanding of the Course’s metaphysics. The self we believe we are, here in the world, is an illusory projection of an illusory thought in an illusory split mind. It has no reality. God, Who is total Oneness, can not know anything that is not a part of that total Oneness, and His knowing cannot involve a separate observer and an observed. If God knew of our existence in this world, the separation would be real. But the Course asserts over and over again that the separation never happened in reality — the principle of the Atonement (e.g., T.2.I.4:4; T.2.VII.6:7,8,9).

Although the specific wording you ask about is never used in the Course, there are a number of passages that clearly imply that God does not know of our existence here. Among them are the following: “God and His creations remain in surety, and therefore know that no miscreations exist” (T.3.IV.7:1). “God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There is nothing else” (T.3.V.7:3,4). A little later, speaking of our self and God’s Self, Jesus observes, “They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive and the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication” (T.4.I.2:11,12). And in the next section: “The ego’s ceaseless attempts to gain the spirit’s acknowledgement and thus establish its own existence are useless. Spirit in its knowledge is unaware of the ego. It does not attack it; it merely cannot conceive of it at all” (T.4.II.8:5,6,7).

The word decision maker as Ken has used it in his teaching is not found in the Course itself. The Course’s one use of that phrase speaks of our resistance to recognizing the power of decision that resides in the mind, preferring instead to see “the body… [as] the decision maker” (M.5.II.1:7). Although that one instance is not describing the mind, the point being made is that the mind and not the body is the decision maker. The word decision maker thus is a convenient shorthand for referring to the part of the split mind that the Course is addressing throughout. It clearly can not be addressing the self that we believe we are, for the Course repeatedly reminds us that that self is not real and that the brain that we believe makes choices has no power at all. For example, in the workbook Jesus, with some amusement, observes, “You also believe the body’s brain can think. If you but understood the nature of thought, you could but laugh at this insane idea.” W.pI.92.2:1,2).

That the focus should be on the decision making power of our mind is most appropriate when we consider that Jesus emphasizes that “the power of decision is your one remaining freedom as a prisoner of this world. You can decide to see it [the world] right” (T.12.VII.9:1,2). And later, “Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours” (T.14.III.4:1,2,3; italics added). The centrality of the concept of choice or decision to Course teachings is evident when we consider that variations on the words choose and decide are used well over a thousand times across the three volumes of the Course. And the concluding section of the text, “Choose Once Again” (T.31.VIII), is a beautiful paean to choice.

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 28

ACIM Text Reading for March 28

Chapter 11 ~ God or the Ego

Introduction

Either God or the ego is insane. If you will examine the evidence on both sides fairly, you will realize this must be true. Neither God nor the ego proposes a partial thought system. Each is internally consistent, but they are diametrically opposed in all respects so that partial allegiance is impossible. Remember, too, that their results are as different as their foundations, and their fundamentally irreconcilable natures cannot be reconciled by vacillations between them. Nothing alive is fatherless, for life is creation. Therefore, your decision is always an answer to the question, “Who is my father?” And you will be faithful to the father you choose.

Yet what would you say to someone who believed this question really involves conflict? If you made the ego, how can the ego have made you? The authority problem is still the only source of conflict, because the ego was made out of the wish of God’s Son to father Him. The ego, then, is nothing more than a delusional system in which you made your own father. Make no mistake about this. It sounds insane when it is stated with perfect honesty, but the ego never looks on what it does with perfect honesty. Yet that is its insane premise, which is carefully hidden in the dark cornerstone of its thought system. And either the ego, which you made, is your father, or its whole thought system will not stand.

You make by projection, but God creates by extension. The cornerstone of God’s creation is you, for His thought system is light. Remember the Rays that are there unseen. The more you approach the center of His thought system, the clearer the light becomes. The closer you come to the ego’s thought system, the darker and more obscure becomes the way. Yet even the little spark in your mind is enough to lighten it. Bring this light fearlessly with you, and bravely hold it up to the foundation of the ego’s thought system. Be willing to judge it with perfect honesty. Open the dark cornerstone of terror on which it rests, and bring it out into the light. There you will see that it rested on meaninglessness, and that everything of which you have been afraid was based on nothing.

My brother, you are part of God and part of me. When you have at last looked at the ego’s foundation without shrinking you will also have looked upon ours. I come to you from our Father to offer you everything again. Do not refuse it in order to keep a dark cornerstone hidden, for its protection will not save you. I give you the lamp and I will go with you. You will not take this journey alone. I will lead you to your true Father, Who hath need of you, as I have. Will you not answer the call of love with joy?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 28th, 2017

Lesson 87
Our review today will cover these ideas:

(73) I will there be light.

I will use the power of my will today. It is not my will to grope about in darkness, fearful of shadows and afraid of things unseen and unreal. Light shall be my guide today. I will follow it where it leads me, and I will look only on what it shows me. This day I will experience the peace of true perception.

These forms of this idea would be helpful for specific applications:

This cannot hide the light I will to see.
You stand with me in light, [name].
In the light this will look different.

(74) There is no will but God’s.

I am safe today because there is no will but God’s. I can become afraid only when I believe there is another will. I try to attack only when I am afraid, and only when I try to attack can I believe that my eternal safety is threatened. Today I will recognize that all this has not occurred. I am safe because there is no will but God’s.

These are some useful forms of this idea for specific applications:

Let me perceive this in accordance with the Will of God.
It is God’s Will you are His Son, [name], and mine as well.
This is part of God’s Will for me, however I may see it.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #996: Given A Course in Miracles’ distinction between form and content, it seems to me that Jesus’ words [that we will (can) do “even greater things” than he did] refer to content and not form (e.g., moving mountains, walking on water, raising the dead). But as I puzzle over his words in the context of content I wonder what “greater things” are.

A: In the Bible Jesus is reported to have made this statement, though scripture scholars have found no historical data to support most of the Biblical sayings of Jesus, nor the miracles he is said to have performed. If he did say and do the things that are recorded in the Gospels, you are correct in distinguishing form and content. Whether as a historical figure, or the author of the Course, Jesus is a symbol for the part of the mind that chooses God’s Love rather than the ego. He does not identify with the body and would therefore never refer to form. In the Course, Jesus does not make any statement about our doing greater things than he. In fact, every reference to our relationship with him and with one another speaks only of the equality of the Sonship (e.g. T.8.IV.6, T.1.II.3, T.5.II.9, T.6.I.5) . There is nothing greater than to accept the Atonement for oneself just as he did. The perfect equality of the Sonship reflects the Course’s non-dualistic teaching that there is one Son in union with the Father. Equality and sameness, therefore, are very important concepts in the Holy Spirit’s curriculum. They are corrections for the ego’s use of difference, inequality, and comparison to establish and maintain belief in the separation.

Jesus asks that we make the same choice he did: to listen only to the Voice that speaks for God. He tells us: “ I have assured you that the Mind that decided for me is also in you, and that you can let it change you just as it changed me” (T.5.II.10:1). There is no real difference between him and us. There is only a difference in our experience while we continue to choose separation. When the mind chooses the Holy Spirit, Who represents the memory of God’s Love, there are no comparisons, no degrees of greater or lesser. The choice is complete in the instant it is made, and it is the same for everyone. It is the same and only choice Jesus made. As we are told in the workbook: “Love makes no comparisons” (W.p.I.195.4:2). We are learning to make love the only choice we make by seeing how painful it is to choose the ego. When we are ready, we will make one final choice for God; the greatest, and only true thing we can do.

certain as god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 29

ACIM Text Reading for March 29

Chapter 11 ~ God or the Ego

II. The Gifts of Fatherhood

You have learned your need of healing. Would you bring anything else to the Sonship, recognizing your need of healing for yourself? For in this lies the beginning of the return to knowledge; the foundation on which God will help build again the thought system you share with Him. Not one stone you place upon it but will be blessed by Him, for you will be restoring the holy dwelling place of His Son, where He wills His Son to be and where he is. In whatever part of the mind of God’s Son you restore this reality, you restore it to yourself. You dwell in the Mind of God with your brother, for God Himself did not will to be alone.

To be alone is to be separated from infinity, but how can this be if infinity has no end? No one can be beyond the limitless, because what has no limits must be everywhere. There are no beginnings and no endings in God, Whose universe is Himself. Can you exclude yourself from the universe, or from God Who is the universe? I and my Father are one with you, for you are part of us. Do you really believe that part of God can be missing or lost to Him?

If you were not part of God, His Will would not be unified. Is this conceivable? Can part of His Mind contain nothing? If your place in His Mind cannot be filled by anyone except you, and your filling it was your creation, without you there would be an empty place in God’s Mind. Extension cannot be blocked, and it has no voids. It continues forever, however much it is denied. Your denial of its reality may arrest it in time, but not in eternity. That is why your creations have not ceased to be extended, and why so much is waiting for your return.

Waiting is possible only in time, but time has no meaning. You who made delay can leave time behind simply by recognizing that neither beginnings nor endings were created by the Eternal, Who placed no limits on His creation or upon those who create like Him. You do not know this simply because you have tried to limit what He created, and so you believe that all creation is limited. How, then, could you know your creations, having denied infinity?

The laws of the universe do not permit contradiction. What holds for God holds for you. If you believe you are absent from God, you will believe that He is absent from you. Infinity is meaningless without you, and you are meaningless without God. There is no end to God and His Son, for we are the universe. God is not incomplete, and He is not childless. Because He did not will to be alone, He created a Son like Himself. Do not deny Him His Son, for your unwillingness to accept His Fatherhood has denied you yours. See His creations as His Son, for yours were created in honor of Him. The universe of love does not stop because you do not see it, nor have your closed eyes lost the ability to see. Look upon the glory of His creation, and you will learn what God has kept for you.

God has given you a place in His Mind that is yours forever. Yet you can keep it only by giving it, as it was given you. Could you be alone there, when it was given you because God did not will to be alone? God’s Mind cannot be lessened. It can only be increased, for everything He creates has the function of creating. Love does not limit, and what it creates is not limited. To give without limit is God’s Will for you, because only this can bring you the joy that is His and that He wills to share with you. Your love is as boundless as His because it is His.

Could any part of God be without His Love, and could any part of His Love be contained? God is your heritage, because His one gift is Himself. How can you give except like Him if you would know His gift to you? Give, then, without limit and without end, to learn how much He has given you. Your ability to accept Him depends on your willingness to give as He gives. Your fatherhood and your Father are one. God wills to create, and your will is His. It follows, then, that you will to create, since your will follows from His. And being an extension of His Will, yours must be the same.

Yet what you will you do not know. This is not strange when you realize that to deny is to “not know.” God’s Will is that you are His Son. By denying this you deny your own will, and therefore do not know what it is. You must ask what God’s Will is in everything, because it is yours. You do not know what it is, but the Holy Spirit remembers it for you. Ask Him, therefore, what God’s Will is for you, and He will tell you yours. It cannot be too often repeated that you do not know it. Whenever what the Holy Spirit tells you appears to be coercive, it is only because you have not recognized your will.

The projection of the ego makes it appear as if God’s Will is outside yourself, and therefore not yours. In this interpretation it seems possible for God’s Will and yours to conflict. God, then, may seem to demand of you what you do not want to give, and thus deprive you of what you want. Would God, Who wants only your will, be capable of this? Your will is His Life, which He has given to you. Even in time you cannot live apart from Him. Sleep is not death. What He created can sleep, but cannot die. Immortality is His Will for His Son, and His Son’s will for himself. God’s Son cannot will death for himself because His Father is life, and His Son is like Him. Creation is your will because it is His.

You cannot be happy unless you do what you will truly, and you cannot change this because it is immutable. It is immutable by God’s Will and yours, for otherwise His Will would not be extended. You are afraid to know God’s Will, because you believe it is not yours. This belief is your whole sickness and your whole fear. Every symptom of sickness and fear arises here, because this is the belief that makes you want not to know. Believing this you hide in darkness, denying that the light is in you.

You are asked to trust the Holy Spirit only because He speaks for you. He is the Voice for God, but never forget that God did not will to be alone. He shares His Will with you; He does not thrust it upon you. Always remember that what He gives He keeps, so that nothing He gives can contradict Him. You who share His life must share it to know it, for sharing is knowing. Blessed are you who learn that to hear the Will of your Father is to know your own. For it is your will to be like Him, Whose Will it is that it be so. God’s Will is that His Son be one, and united with Him in His Oneness. That is why healing is the beginning of the recognition that your will is His.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 29

 Lesson 88
Today we will review these ideas:

(75) The light has come.

In choosing salvation rather than attack, I merely choose to recognize what is already there. Salvation is a decision made already. Attack and grievances are not there to choose. That is why I always choose between truth and illusion; between what is there and what is not. The light has come. I can but choose the light, for it has no alternative. It has replaced the darkness, and the darkness has gone.

These would prove useful forms for specific applications of this idea:

This cannot show me darkness, for the light has come.
The light in you is all that I would see, [name].
I would see in this only what is there.

(76) I am under no laws but God’s.

Here is the perfect statement of my freedom. I am under no laws but God’s. I am constantly tempted to make up other laws and give them power over me. I suffer only because of my belief in them. They have no real effect on me at all. I am perfectly free of the effects of all laws save God’s. And His are the laws of freedom.

For specific forms in applying this idea, these would be useful:

My perception of this shows me I believe in laws that do not exist.
I see only the laws of God at work in this.
Let me allow God’s laws to work in this, and not my own.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #995: You have said that if we really understood the Course’s message that we do not exist, we would feel terror. But I don’t feel terror, just uncomfortable and sometimes afraid. I have a friend who is doing A Course in Miracles , too, and she says she feels happiness when she thinks of losing her individuality and joining with God. I suspect that there is a degree of blockage in both of us, and perhaps in all of us. This is our denial, our non-acceptance of the truth. Is this true?

A: Yes, anyone who believes that he or she is here is in denial of the truth. If we were ready to fully accept the truth, we would no longer have any need for this dream and would awaken to our true home in Heaven, where we are still one with our Creator. The fact that we do not do so tells us that we must have a motivation for choosing this world of separation and pain over the peace of God.

A Course in Miracles lets us know what that motivation is. It states that we made up this world of murder and attack because it is a picture of what we think we are. We believe that we are murderers, deserving of death as punishment for what we have done (T.20.III.4) . And what we accuse ourselves of doing is usurping the place of God; thus, in essence, killing Him off. At the same time, we believe that God is not really dead and will come back to give us our punishment. So, the ego’s only conception of God is as an angry father pursuing His guilty son (M.17.7: 10) . These terrifying dynamics motivate us to continue listening to the ego, and keep dreaming that we are in this world of individuality and separation, which God can enter not (W.pII.3.3:4) . In other words, as bad as this world can be, we think it is our protection.

However, another part of our mind — symbolized in the Course as the Holy Spirit — retains the memory of the true God’s Love. It knows that the angry, vengeful God is a fiction of the ego. And so, we have two competing thought systems in our mind: the ego’s, which is literally scared to death of losing our individuality, and the Holy Spirit’s, which knows that we have nothing to fear and that our recognition of this fact and resultant awakening would give us everything we truly want. The Course is aimed at the part of our mind that chooses between these two thought systems. On one hand, it asks us to look at the terror, which we miscreated an entire world to avoid facing. On the other hand, it tells us that this fear is made up and gives us a method for finally letting it go and being at peace at last.

Not surprisingly then, we are likely to experience many shifting and conflicting emotions as we work with the Course. In addition, because our terror is deeply buried, we may not have a direct emotional experience of it — and certainly not consistently. The Course tells us that ” What I call ‘my’ thoughts are not my real thoughts” (W.pI.51.4:3) . It would make the same statement about feelings. Feelings lie because they are virtually always the result of thoughts about some aspect of our illusory existence as individuals within this physical world.

Of course, feelings can be helpful if they motivate us to ask the Holy Spirit to look with us at the thoughts behind them and, in the process, let His Love take the place of the ego’s guilt. If we can do just that with our feelings — learning to simply watch them without judging them, over- analyzing them, or worrying about them — they will gradually lessen in intensity and seeming importance as our capacity to feel the peace of God increases.

pray-for-what-is

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 23

ACIM Text Reading for March 23

Chapter 10 ~ The Idols of Sickness

II. At Home in God

You do not know your creations simply because you would decide against them as long as your mind is split, and to attack what you have created is impossible. But remember that it is as impossible for God. The law of creation is that you love your creations as yourself, because they are part of you. Everything that was created is therefore perfectly safe, because the laws of God protect it by His Love. Any part of your mind that does not know this has banished itself from knowledge, because it has not met its conditions. Who could have done this but you? Recognize this gladly, for in this recognition lies the realization that your banishment is not of God, and therefore does not exist.

You are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality. Is it your decision to do so? You recognize from your own experience that what you see in dreams you think is real while you are asleep. Yet the instant you waken you realize that everything that seemed to happen in the dream did not happen at all. You do not think this strange, even though all the laws of what you awaken to were violated while you slept. Is it not possible that you merely shifted from one dream to another, without really waking?

Would you bother to reconcile what happened in conflicting dreams, or would you dismiss both together if you discovered that reality is in accord with neither? You do not remember being awake. When you hear the Holy Spirit you may feel better because loving then seems possible to you, but you do not remember yet that it once was so. And it is in this remembering that you will know it can be so again. What is possible has not yet been accomplished. Yet what has once been is so now, if it is eternal. When you remember, you will know that what you remember is eternal, and therefore is now.

You will remember everything the instant you desire it wholly, for if to desire wholly is to create, you will have willed away the separation, returning your mind simultaneously to your Creator and your creations. Knowing them you will have no wish to sleep, but only the desire to waken and be glad. Dreams will be impossible because you will want only truth, and being at last your will, it will be yours.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 23

Lesson 82

We will review these ideas today:

(63) The light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness.

My forgiveness is the means by which the light of the world finds expression through me. My forgiveness is the means by which I become aware of the light of the world in me. My forgiveness is the means by which the world is healed, together with myself. Let me, then, forgive the world, that it may be healed along with me.

Suggestions for specific forms for applying this idea are:

Let peace extend from my mind to yours, [name].
I share the light of the world with you, [name].
Through my forgiveness I can see this as it is.

 

(64) Let me not forget my function.

I would not forget my function, because I would remember my Self. I cannot fulfill my function if I forget it. And unless I fulfill my function, I will not experience the joy that God intends for me.

Suitable specific forms of this idea include:

Let me not use this to hide my function from me.
I would use this as an opportunity to fulfill my function.
This may threaten my ego, but cannot change my function in any way.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #21: If the art may be seen as a form of special relationship the artist makes as a substitute for God’s Love, are forms of art to be considered as a call for love? And how do these forms differ from the forms expressed through “channeling” like Mozart’s music? Can we say that the “channeled” art more of expression of love rather than a call for love? And how can we “justify” human distinction between great and mediocre art on Level two of our experience here in material world?

A: First, we cannot judge whether the specific work of a specific artist is a substitute for God’s Love, the manifestation of a special relationship. Only the artist would be able to discern that. We usually cannot tell just from the form whether it has come from the wrong (ego) mind or the right (Holy Spirit) mind. If the reflection of God’s Love is the source of a particular work of art, then, yes, it is an expression of love. Our mistake would be, then, to venerate the work, rather than to identify with the content behind the form.

All special love relationships are defenses against the searing pain in our minds that comes from the guilt we all feel over having rejected God’s Love in favor of giving ourselves existence on our own terms. Following the ego’s counsel, our attention gets directed away from our guilt-laden minds to specific individuals, substances, or activities that can shut out the pain and fill up the loneliness that is in our minds. In essence, our special love relationships are telling God that we don’t need His Love, and that we are perfectly capable of filling the void and experiencing completion and worth through relationships in the world. This is the content underlying the form of all special love relationships. The good feelings that come from these types of relationships hide the hatred that is their basis.

At the same time, in another part of our minds, we are longing to be told that this whole thing was just some silly mistake, that we have been forgiven, and therefore our guilt and our defenses against that guilt are no longer necessary. This is the “call” that is present in our minds that are split between these two attitudes or ways of thinking.

Any form can be used by the Holy Spirit to remind us of the truth about ourselves. One is not more or less inspiring than another, in this sense. In other words, once we believe the separation has occurred and we are here in the world as bodies, the world and our bodies are regarded as neutral. Therefore, anything at all in this world can become a means of leading us beyond the world, or more deeply into it, depending on whether we choose the ego or the Holy Spirit as our teacher. We can be enthralled with Michelangelo’s statue of David and be reminded of our perfection and oneness with God; but the same experience can occur while we are looking at a diseased tree in our yard. When we become dependent on a particular form in order to have a “spiritual” experience, then we have gotten caught in a special love relationship.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with having preferences in this world, provided we don’t take them seriously. We can say that one work of art is better than another, just as we can say that a particular musical composition is better than another, one method of education is better than another, one medical treatment is better than another, based on criteria we have set up in those fields. From the Course’s point of view, they all are equally illusory. Yet, it is natural to evaluate things in a somewhat objective way in the world. The lesson, though, is not to take seriously any conclusions we reach about things in the world — we should do it with a gentle smile somewhere in our minds, because we know that it is all made up.

certain as god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 22

ACIM Text Reading for March 22

Chapter 10 ~ The Idols of Sickness

I. Introduction

Nothing beyond yourself can make you fearful or loving, because nothing is beyond you. Time and eternity are both in your mind, and will conflict until you perceive time solely as a means to regain eternity. You cannot do this as long as you believe that anything happening to you is caused by factors outside yourself. You must learn that time is solely at your disposal, and that nothing in the world can take this responsibility from you. You can violate God’s laws in your imagination, but you cannot escape from them. They were established for your protection and are as inviolate as your safety.

God created nothing beside you and nothing beside you exists, for you are part of Him. What except Him can exist? Nothing beyond Him can happen, because nothing except Him is real. Your creations add to Him as you do, but nothing is added that is different because everything has always been. What can upset you except the ephemeral, and how can the ephemeral be real if you are God’s only creation and He created you eternal? Your holy mind establishes everything that happens to you. Every response you make to everything you perceive is up to you, because your mind determines your perception of it.

God does not change His Mind about you, for He is not uncertain of Himself. And what He knows can be known, because He does not know it only for Himself. He created you for Himself, but He gave you the power to create for yourself so you would be like Him. That is why your mind is holy. Can anything exceed the Love of God? Can anything, then, exceed your will? Nothing can reach you from beyond it because, being in God, you encompass everything. Believe this, and you will realize how much is up to you. When anything threatens your peace of mind, ask yourself, “Has God changed His Mind about me?” Then accept His decision, for it is indeed changeless, and refuse to change your mind about yourself. God will never decide against you, or He would be deciding against Himself.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 22

Lesson 81

REVIEW II
Introduction

We are now ready for another review. We will begin where our last review left off, and cover two ideas each day. The earlier part of each day will be devoted to one of these ideas, and the latter part of the day to the other. We will have one longer exercise period, and frequent shorter ones in which we practice each of them.

The longer practice periods will follow this general form: Take about fifteen minutes for each of them, and begin by thinking about the ideas for the day, and the comments that are included in the assignments. Devote some three or four minutes to reading them over slowly, several times if you wish, and then close your eyes and listen.

Repeat the first phase of the exercise period if you find your mind wandering, but try to spend the major part of the time listening quietly but attentively. There is a message waiting for you. Be confident that you will receive it. Remember that it belongs to you, and that you want it.

Do not allow your intent to waver in the face of distracting thoughts. Realize that, whatever form such thoughts may take, they have no meaning and no power. Replace them with your determination to succeed. Do not forget that your will has power over all fantasies and dreams. Trust it to see you through, and carry you beyond them all.

Regard these practice periods as dedications to the way, the truth and the life. Refuse to be sidetracked into detours, illusions and thoughts of death. You are dedicated to salvation. Be determined each day not to leave your function unfulfilled.

Reaffirm your determination in the shorter practice periods as well, using the original form of the idea for general applications, and more specific forms when needed. Some specific forms are included in the comments which follow the statement of the ideas. These, however, are merely suggestions. It is not the particular words you use that matter.


Lesson 81

Our ideas for review today are:

(61) I am the light of the world.

How holy am I, who have been given the function of lighting up the world! Let me be still before my holiness. In its calm light let all my conflicts disappear. In its peace let me remember Who I am.

Some specific forms for applying this idea when special difficulties seem to arise might be:

Let me not obscure the light of the world in me.
Let the light of the world shine through this appearance.
This shadow will vanish before the light.

 

(62) Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world.

It is through accepting my function that I will see the light in me. And in this light will my function stand clear and perfectly unambiguous before my sight. My acceptance does not depend on my recognizing what my function is, for I do not yet understand forgiveness. Yet I will trust that, in the light, I will see it as it is.

Specific forms for using this idea might include:

Let this help me learn what forgiveness means.
Let me not separate my function from my will.
I will not use this for an alien purpose.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #282: In addition to being a student of A Course in Miracles, I am also a Buddhist. I find that Buddhism and the Course fit very well together. I am considering taking up robes and becoming a Buddhist nun, in order to further my spiritual understanding. By letting go of a “normal” lifestyle of having a job, paying bills, etc., am I postponing lessons that I will need to learn, or is the adoption of a monastic lifestyle a great step forward in letting go of my attachment (forgive my Buddhist terminology) to the world of illusions that my ego has created?

A: A Course in Miracles focuses only on the content in our minds, not form or behavior. And that content is either of the ego or Holy Spirit. So whether you are in a monastery or in a corporate office makes no difference from that point of view. What makes a difference, spiritually, is whether you see your interests as different from everyone else’s or as the same. The Course encourages us to see our life circumstances and settings as classrooms in which we can choose to learn either the ego’s curriculum, which is based on separation, or the Holy Spirit’s curriculum, which is based on the undoing of separation. It teaches us to think always in terms of purpose: Are we using the world and our relationships to reinforce our belief in separation or to undo it? The world and the body, thus, are not the problem; the way we use them is the problem. And that always is the result of the choice we make in our minds to be taught by the ego or by Jesus. Thus, what would be most helpful in your situation is to ask for help in undoing any specialness that might be involved in the decision you are making. That would go a long way toward removing the doubts and conflicts you experience.

*

Q #283: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for six years now and practice at it daily. Every time I have a questions to ask it gets answered in some form by you. so thank you for all the help. Now I am a little confused on how to handle this situation. The last eight years I have gained 30 lbs and being 69 years of age it is a concern because the additional weight can lead to many diseases and I am not comfortable with it. So I went on a diet of healthy eating and exercises. I am comfortable with my game plan but I am confused because I know that all the illnesses, aches and pains are only my own guilt about the choice I made on leaving God and that guilt is projected on to my body.  So, if I stay aware of this fact and continue on my plan will that be OK? How do we handle following the Course and doing what we think is necessary in this world. This question could be used in many different situations. Again thank you for all your help.

A: You are correct. This question can be applied to many different situations regarding behavior.

As you undoubtedly know, the focus of A Course in Miracles is not on changing our behavior, but rather on changing the teacher who will guide us through our daily lives. And yet, we have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is basically where we find ourselves right now. It doesn’t matter that yesterday I was practically sitting at the right hand of God when today I’m a hateful, spiteful, blankety-blank!

So, we start where we are. As you stated, you know your ailments come from your guilt. This recognition alone gives you more knowledge than 99.9% of the population. You are off to a good start right there! You want to lose weight to live a longer and healthier life, and as an aside, to perhaps feel better about your looks as well (although you didn’t say so). You have a plan, which seems complete and well thought out. You imply that you have implemented your plan, at least for a little while, and then you became confused — about your plan, about your guilt, etc.

Sounds like you made a right-minded decision to take better care of yourself, to love yourself a little more, to “let go” of some of your guilt, and to be worthy of good health and happiness. It also sounds like once you started implementing your plan, a tiny voice began to whisper in your ear — the content of its message, no matter what the words, being “who will I be without my guilt?” Once heard, you began to get confused. Should I? Would I? Could I? All of this a direct response to your right-minded decision.

This is a perfect example of what we all do in various aspects of our lives. We make right-minded decisions, become afraid of them (and their implications) and jump right back into the arms of the ego until we tire of its insanity and begin the entire process again — over, and over, and over. We continue this way until our fear is totally diminished and we make the final right-minded choice, at which point we are in the real world, and the tiny voice of the ego is heard no more. And, if you can generalize this process to your entire life, you’ll be able to more quickly and easily recognize signs of fear as they creep into your thoughts, no matter what form they take. This will help you take your doubt and self-sabotage less seriously than you have in the past, simply stating:: “Of course, I’ve gotten afraid again. So what else is new?”

teach not that i died in vain

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 21

ACIM Text Reading for March 21

Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement

VIII. Grandeur versus Grandiosity

Grandeur is of God, and only of Him. Therefore it is in you. Whenever you become aware of it, however dimly, you abandon the ego automatically, because in the presence of the grandeur of God the meaninglessness of the ego becomes perfectly apparent. When this occurs, even though it does not understand it, the ego believes that its “enemy” has struck, and attempts to offer gifts to induce you to return to its “protection.” Self-inflation is of the ego is its alternative to the grandeur of God. Which will you choose?

Grandiosity is always a cover for despair. It is without hope because it is not real. It is an attempt to counteract your littleness, based on the belief that the littleness is real. Without this belief grandiosity is meaningless, and you could not possibly want it. The essence of grandiosity is competitiveness, because it always involves attack. It is a delusional attempt to outdo, but not to undo. We said before that the ego vacillates between suspiciousness and viciousness. It remains suspicious as long as you despair of yourself. It shifts to viciousness when you decide not to tolerate self-abasement and seek relief. Then it offers you the illusion of attack as a “solution.”

The ego does not understand the difference between grandeur and grandiosity, because it sees no difference between miracle impulses and ego-alien beliefs of its own. I told you that the ego is aware of threat to its existence, but makes no distinctions between these two very different kinds of threat. Its profound sense of vulnerability renders it incapable of judgment except in terms of attack. When the ego experiences threat, its only decision is whether to attack now or to withdraw to attack later. If you accept its offer of grandiosity it will attack immediately. If you do not, it will wait.

The ego is immobilized in the presence of God’s grandeur, because His grandeur establishes your freedom. Even the faintest hint of your reality literally drives the ego from your mind, because you will give up all investment in it. Grandeur is totally without illusions, and because it is real it is compellingly convincing. Yet the conviction of reality will not remain with you unless you do not allow the ego to attack it. The ego will make every effort to recover and mobilize its energies against your release. It will tell you that you are insane, and argue that grandeur cannot be a real part of you because of the littleness in which it believes. Yet your grandeur is not delusional because you did not make it. You made grandiosity and are afraid of it because it is a form of attack, but your grandeur is of God, who created it out of His love.

From your grandeur you can only bless, because your grandeur is your abundance. By blessing you hold it in your mind, protecting it from illusions and keeping yourself in the Mind of God. Remember always that you cannot be anywhere except in the Mind of God. When you forget this, you will despair and you will attack.

The ego depends solely on your willingness to tolerate it. If you are willing to look upon your grandeur you cannot despair, and therefore you cannot want the ego. Your grandeur is God’s answer to the ego, because it is true. Littleness and grandeur cannot coexist, nor is it possible for them to alternate. Littleness and grandiosity can and must alternate, since both are untrue and are therefore on the same level. Being the level of shift, it is experienced as shifting and extremes are its essential characteristic.

Truth and littleness are denials of each other because grandeur is truth. Truth does not vacillate; it is always true. When grandeur slips away from you, you have replaced it with something you have made. Perhaps it is the belief in littleness; perhaps it is the belief in grandiosity. Yet it must be insane because it is not true. Your grandeur will never deceive you, but your illusions always will. Illusions are deceptions. You cannot triumph, but you are exalted. And in your exalted state you seek others like you and rejoice with them.

It is easy to distinguish grandeur from grandiosity, because love is returned and pride is not. Pride will not produce miracles, and will therefore deprive you of the true witnesses to your reality. Truth is not obscure nor hidden, but its obviousness to you lies in the joy you bring to its witnesses, who show it to you. They attest to your grandeur, but they cannot attest to pride because pride is not shared. God wants you to behold what He created because it is His joy.

Can your grandeur be arrogant when God Himself witnesses to it? And what can be real that has no witnesses? What good can come of it? And if no good can come of it the Holy Spirit cannot use it. What He cannot transform to the Will of God does not exist at all. Grandiosity is delusional, because it is used to replace your grandeur. Yet what God has created cannot be replaced. God is incomplete without you because His grandeur is total, and you cannot be missing from it.

You are altogether irreplaceable in the Mind of God. No one else can fill your part in it, and while you leave your part of it empty your eternal place merely waits for your return. God, through His Voice, reminds you of it, and God himself keeps your extensions safe within it. Yet you do not know them until you return to them. You cannot replace the Kingdom, and you cannot replace yourself. God, Who knows your value, would not have it so, and so it is not so. Your value is in God’s Mind, and therefore not in yours alone. To accept yourself as God created you cannot be arrogance, because it is the denial of arrogance. To accept your littleness is arrogant, because it means that you believe your evaluation of yourself is truer than God’s.

Yet if truth is indivisible, your evaluation of yourself must be God’s. You did not establish your value and it needs no defense. Nothing can attack it nor prevail over it. It does not vary. It merely is. Ask the Holy Spirit what it is and He will tell you, but do not be afraid of His answer, because it comes from God. It is an exalted answer because of its Source, but the Source is true and so is its answer. Listen and do not question what you hear, for God does not deceive. He would have you replace the ego’s belief in littleness with His Own exalted Answer to what you are, so that you can cease to question it and know it for what it is.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 21

Lesson 80

Let me recognize my problems have been solved.

If you are willing to recognize your problems, you will recognize that you have no problems. Your one central problem has been answered, and you have no other. Therefore, you must be at peace. Salvation thus depends on recognizing this one problem, and understanding that it has been solved. One problem, one solution. Salvation is accomplished. Freedom from conflict has been given you. Accept that fact, and you are ready to take your rightful place in God’s plan for salvation.

Your only problem has been solved! Repeat this over and over to yourself today, with gratitude and conviction. You have recognized your only problem, opening the way for the Holy Spirit to give you God’s answer. You have laid deception aside, and seen the light of truth. You have accepted salvation for yourself by bringing the problem to the answer. And you can recognize the answer, because the problem has been identified.

You are entitled to peace today. A problem that has been resolved cannot trouble you. Only be certain you do not forget that all problems are the same. Their many forms will not deceive you while you remember this. One problem, one solution. Accept the peace this simple statement brings.

In our longer practice periods today, we will claim the peace that must be ours when the problem and the answer have been brought together. The problem must be gone, because God’s answer cannot fail. Having recognized one, you have recognized the other. The solution is inherent in the problem. You are answered, and have accepted the answer. You are saved.

Now let the peace that your acceptance brings be given you. Close your eyes, and receive your reward. Recognize that your problems have been solved. Recognize that you are out of conflict; free and at peace. Above all, remember that you have one problem, and that the problem has one solution. It is in this that the simplicity of salvation lies. It is because of this that it is guaranteed to work.

Assure yourself often today that your problems have been solved. Repeat the idea with deep conviction, as frequently as possible. And be particularly sure to apply the idea for today to any specific problem that may arise. Say quickly:

Let me recognize this problem has been solved.

Let us be determined not to collect grievances today. Let us be determined to be free of problems that do not exist. The means is simple honesty. Do not deceive yourself about what the problem is, and you must recognize it has been solved.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #118: My questions are prompted by my seeming experience of “retaliation” from my ego, which inevitably follows times when I have sincerely tried to look at my ego and asked for correction. The specific forms this takes can be severe enough to shut me down physically, as well as mentally. Should we expect this to occur?

I know the Course talks about the ego vacillating “between suspiciousness and viciousness” shifting to viciousness if I try to seek relief from it, offering me then “the illusion of attack as a ‘solution'” (T.9.VIII.2:7,9,10). So if my ego offers me the “illusion of attack,” then I am off the hook. I’ve not really chosen the attack and I’m not responsible for it — my ego did it to me. But I don’t really believe this at all. I think the decision making part of my mind is choosing attack to protect my ego identification — my special, separate identity — and that things are going to get a whole lot worse if I continue to go against it. At these times there is no way that I can look at my ego and simply smile at it. I just have to back off. I will be grateful for your answers and comments.

A: Yes, you are right — the ego has no power to attack you except for the power you give it. Jesus clarifies this early in the text: “Only your allegiance to it gives the ego any power over you. I have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing, acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly, and must realize how much of your thinking is ego-directed. We cannot safely let it go at that, however, or you will regard yourself as necessarily conflicted as long as you are here, or as long as you believe that you are here. The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself” (T.4.VI.1:2,3,4,5,6)

As the passage you cite indicates, self-attack is not uncommon when we seek relief from the ego. And that is a reflection of our fear of accepting the limitless love in which the self we believe we are has no meaning, as you suggest.

So your question really is, what do you do now, knowing that your fear is still so great. The part of ourselves that remains identified with the ego does not want us to take even a single step in the direction of forgiveness and healing if it can prevent it. And anything that increases rather than reduces our fear really serves the ego’s purpose. So Jesus counsels us that if our resistance is strong, we should not fight ourselves because we are just not ready (T.30.I.1:6,7). The most kind and loving thing we can do then is to be patient and gentle with ourselves — there is no urgency about the process of forgiveness. We may not yet be ready to bring the darkness of our ego to Jesus, but we can at least bring our fear to him, acknowledging that we need his help. And if Jesus is part of the problem, we can use the less threatening symbol of the Holy Spirit, or any other symbol of love to whom we relate that brings us comfort.

The important thing is to develop an awareness of the loving, nonjudgmental presence within your mind, with whom you can look at the darkness of your ego together. If you look by yourself, you will almost certainly frighten yourself. But if you look with love beside you, the seeming seriousness of what you are uncovering will gradually dissipate. And then you will be able to smile at it.

*

Q #929: A Course in Miracles states the ego “sees no difference between miracle impulses and ego-alien beliefs of its own… [and] …makes no distinctions between these two very different kinds of threat” (T.9.VIII.3:1,2). I know this is comparing grandeur and grandiosity and the fact that the ego is aware of something else, greater than it “out-there” (or actually, in-there). But we are confused about what may indeed be the ego’s own alien (not of or outside of itself?) beliefs. Is it accurate to say that the ego is constantly aware of this “other” presence? We know that it is not aware of the Holy Spirit (Voice for God) per se so would it be us as the decision maker? Exactly what are the two very different threats?

A: Miracle impulses of course emanate from the right-mind, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and their purpose is to undo our belief in the ego. It is apparent why the ego would perceive such impulses as a threat, even though it cannot really understand them. Ego-alien beliefs, on the other hand, have their origins in the ego thought system, but represent the split off thoughts of the ego that it is attempting to deny responsibility for, including thoughts of attack and guilt and weakness and limitation, which, while inventions of the ego, need to be seen as outside itself to work as defenses. And so thoughts of revenge and destruction attributed to forces outside itself ironically trigger as much a sense of threat to the ego, even though paradoxically they are part of   the ego’s scheme for self-preservation. And it is these threats, as much as the fear of the unknown represented by miracle impulses, which incite the ego to self-inflating delusions of grandiosity.

There is a very simple explanation for the single, common ego perception and response to both sources of threat. The ego is very simply a thought of attack, and so its only reaction to anything perceived to be outside itself — real or imaginary — must be to attack, either now or later (T.9.VIII.3:4,5,6) . The attack may be either direct (special hate) or indirect (special love), but attack is all that the ego is capable of. With special love, or where the balance of power seems overwhelmingly against it, the attack may be disguised, but the content is nevertheless nothing other than attack. And so the ego does not and cannot distinguish between the content of any thought that it attacks. Much as the Holy Spirit’s judgment, seeing everything as either an extension of love or a call for love, responds only with love (T.12.I.3) , so the ego, regardless of the nature of the content it encounters, sees everything only as a threat to its continued existence and responds only with hate and attack.

So, to the ego, the enemy is both any right-minded thought that reflects the truth of who we are in our unlimitedness — the grandeur of our true Self — as well as any ego-based thought, including the body, which challenges or undermines the ego’s imaginary “autonomy” and “supremacy.” Ironically, as already noted, the other ego thoughts it attacks are merely split off parts of itself, but the ego is capable of perceiving only threat from anything seen as outside itself (T.4.V.2,3) .

A third source of perceived threat, as you have observed, is the power of our mind to choose between those right-minded and wrong-minded thoughts for, as much as the ego may hate us, it is dependent on the power of our mind to choose it for its continued existence (T.6.IV.4:1,2; T.7.VI.3) .

And so, we can say unequivocally that “the ego is quite literally a fearful thought” (T.5.V.3:7) . So long as we remain identified with the ego, we can only vacillate between various forms of fear and attack, or suspiciousness and viciousness (T.9.VII.3:4,5,6,7,8,9,10) . If we could look very honestly at all of our reactions to everything around us when we are in our wrong-mind, we would recognize that this is really the only content we are capable of experiencing as an ego.

The insanity of the ego’s defenses is most clearly seen in the self-inflation of its own grandiosity, which is always an attack on a made-up other as a defense against the ego’s intrinsic sense of littleness and vulnerability. The other must be held responsible for the feelings of inadequacy, rather than seeing them simply as a result of our choice for the ego itself in the first place.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for March 20

ACIM Text Reading for March 20

Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement

VII. The Two Evaluations

God’s Will is your salvation. Would He not have given you the means to find it? If He wills you to have it, He must have made it possible and easy to obtain it. Your brothers are everywhere. You do not have to seek far for salvation. Every minute and every second gives you a chance to save yourself. Do not lose these chances, not because they will not return, but because delay of joy is needless. God wills you perfect happiness now. Is it possible that this is not also your will? And is it possible that this is not also the will of your brothers?

Consider, then, that in this joint will you are all united, and in this only. There may be disagreement on anything else, but not on this. This, then, is where peace abides. And you abide in peace when you so decide. Yet you cannot abide in peace unless you accept the Atonement, because the Atonement is the way to peace. The reason is very simple, and so obvious that it is often overlooked. The ego is afraid of the obvious, since obviousness is the essential characteristic of reality. Yet you cannot overlook it unless you are not looking.

It is perfectly obvious that if the Holy Spirit looks with love on all He perceives, He looks with love on you. His evaluation of you is based on His knowledge of what you are, and so He evaluates you truly. And this evaluation must be in your mind, because He is. The ego is also in your mind, because you have accepted it there. Its evaluation of you, however, is the exact opposite of the Holy Spirit’s, because the ego does not love you. It is unaware of what you are, and wholly mistrustful of everything it perceives because its perceptions are so shifting. The ego is therefore capable of suspiciousness at best and viciousness at worst. That is its range. It cannot exceed it because of its uncertainty. And it can never go beyond it because it can never be certain.

You, then, have two conflicting evaluations of yourself in your mind, and they cannot both be true. You do not yet realize how completely different these evaluations are, because you do not understand how lofty the Holy Spirit’s perception of you really is. He is not deceived by anything you do, because He never forgets what you are. The ego is deceived by everything you do, especially when you respond to the Holy Spirit, because at such times its confusion increases. The ego is, therefore, particularly likely to attack you when you react lovingly, because it has evaluated you as unloving and you are going against its judgment. The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased. Yet it is surely pointless to attack in return. What can this mean except that you are agreeing with the ego’s evaluation of what you are?

If you choose to see yourself as unloving you will not be happy. You are condemning yourself and must therefore regard yourself as inadequate. Would you look to the ego to help you escape from a sense of inadequacy it has produced, and must maintain for its existence? Can you escape from its evaluation of you by using its methods for keeping this picture intact?

You cannot evaluate an insane belief system from within it. Its range precludes this. You can only go beyond it, look back from a point where sanity exists and see the contrast. Only by this contrast can insanity be judged as insane. With the grandeur of God in you, you have chosen to be little and to lament your littleness. Within the system that dictated this choice the lament is inevitable. Your littleness is taken for granted there and you do not ask, “Who granted it?” The question is meaningless within the ego’s thought system, because it would open the whole thought system to question.

I have said that the ego does not know what a real question is. Lack of knowledge of any kind is always associated with unwillingness to know, and this produces a total lack of knowledge simply because knowledge is total. Not to question your littleness therefore is to deny all knowledge, and keep the ego’s whole thought system intact. You cannot retain part of a thought system, because it can be questioned only at its foundation. And this must be questioned from beyond it, because within it its foundation does stand. The Holy Spirit judges against the reality of the ego’s thought system merely because He knows its foundation is not true. Therefore, nothing that arises from it means anything. He judges every belief you hold in terms of where it comes from. If it comes from God, he knows it to be true. If it does not, He knows that it is meaningless.

Whenever you question your value, say:

“God Himself is incomplete without me.”

Remember this when the ego speaks, and you will not hear it. The truth about you is so lofty that nothing unworthy of God is worthy of you. Choose, then, what you want in these terms, and accept nothing that you would not offer to God as wholly fitting for Him. You do not want anything else. Return your part of Him, and He will give you all of Himself in exchange for the return of what belongs to Him and renders Him complete.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 20

Lesson 79

Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.

A problem cannot be solved if you do not know what it is. Even if it is really solved already you will still have the problem, because you will not recognize that it has been solved. This is the situation of the world. The problem of separation, which is really the only problem, has already been solved. Yet the solution is not recognized because the problem is not recognized.

Everyone in this world seems to have his own special problems. Yet they are all the same, and must be recognized as one if the one solution that solves them all is to be accepted. Who can see that a problem has been solved if he thinks the problem is something else? Even if he is given the answer, he cannot see its relevance.

That is the position in which you find yourself now. You have the answer, but you are still uncertain about what the problem is. A long series of different problems seems to confront you, and as one is settled the next one and the next arise. There seems to be no end to them. There is no time in which you feel completely free of problems and at peace.

The temptation to regard problems as many is the temptation to keep the problem of separation unsolved. The world seems to present you with a vast number of problems, each requiring a different answer. This perception places you in a position in which your problem solving must be inadequate, and failure is inevitable.

No one could solve all the problems the world appears to hold. They seem to be on so many levels, in such varying forms and with such varied content, that they confront you with an impossible situation. Dismay and depression are inevitable as you regard them. Some spring up unexpectedly, just as you think you have resolved the previous ones. Others remain unsolved under a cloud of denial, and rise to haunt you from time to time, only to be hidden again but still unsolved.

All this complexity is but a desperate attempt not to recognize the problem, and therefore not to let it be resolved. If you could recognize that your only problem is separation, no matter what form it takes, you could accept the answer because you would see its relevance. Perceiving the underlying constancy in all the problems that seem to confront you, you would understand that you have the means to solve them all. And you would use the means, because you recognize the problem.

In our longer practice periods today we will ask what the problem is, and what is the answer to it. We will not assume that we already know. We will try to free our minds of all the many different kinds of problems we think we have. We will try to realize that we have only one problem, which we have failed to recognize. We will ask what it is, and wait for the answer. We will be told. Then we will ask for the solution to it. And we will be told.

The exercises for today will be successful to the extent to which you do not insist on defining the problem. Perhaps you will not succeed in letting all your preconceived notions go, but that is not necessary. All that is necessary is to entertain some doubt about the reality of your version of what your problems are. You are trying to recognize that you have been given the answer by recognizing the problem, so that the problem and the answer can be brought together and you can be at peace.

The shorter practice periods for today will not be set by time, but by need. You will see many problems today, each one calling for an answer. Our efforts will be directed toward recognizing that there is only one problem and one answer. In this recognition are all problems resolved. In this recognition there is peace.

Be not deceived by the form of problems today. Whenever any difficulty seems to rise, tell yourself quickly:

Let me recognize this problem so it can be solved.

Then try to suspend all judgment about what the problem is. If possible, close your eyes for a moment and ask what it is. You will be heard and you will be answered.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #325: On page 172 of the text of A Course in Miracles (T.9.V.6:3) Jesus states: “Can you find light by analyzing the darkness…” My question is: If we are to look at our egos as a process, isn’t that the same thing as finding light by analyzing darkness?

A: The context of that statement is the unhealed healer who sees the darkness as real and not as a defense against the light, an expression of the only “sin” in the Course: making the error real. As Jesus tells us in the “Song of Prayer”:Do not see error. Do not make it real” (S.2.I.3:3,4). In the section in the text to which you refer, Jesus is pointing out the limitations and mistakes of therapists and theologians who attempt to heal others without first having seen their own mistakes and brought them to the healing presence in their right minds. They therefore know nothing of that true corrective process, and as a result they wind up having their egos direct them as they attempt to heal others. If you know that the ego’s darkness (the wrong mind) is simply a defense against the Holy Spirit’s light (the right mind) and that we can choose between these states, then analyzing the darkness can be helpful in identifying the choices we make. We can then reconsider our decisions. But if we are unaware of the light and the decision-making capacity of our minds, then analyzing the darkness would be fruitless, ultimately. There may be some relief from the pain, but there would be no true healing. In that sense, you cannot find light by analyzing the darkness.


Q #326: Do you know of people who in the year of taking A Course in Miracles have achieved the experience of the holy instant?

A: We direct you to Questions #26 and #104, which address this topic. The essence of the experience is recognizing and accepting the love of Jesus as the only reality in your mind. This comes about through choosing against the ego’s way of perceiving, which always emphasizes differences and separation, and instead seeing your interests and needs as the same as everyone else’s. It is a choice made in the mind, and of course can occur at any time. In the manual for teachers, Jesus speaks about different levels of relationships, the first level being “… what seems to be very casual encounters; a ‘chance’ meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult ‘by chance,’ two students ‘happening’ to walk home together…. Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another, perhaps the adult will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment” (M.3.2:2,5,6). The holy instant is that moment. There are many other expressions of it as well. It may occur at any time during one’s spiritual process, and one need not be a student of the Course in order to have this experience. Many, many students have done so.

Finally, even though there are 365 lessons and the Course is presented as a one-year program, it is important to take note of what Jesus tells us in the very first sentence after the last lesson: “This course is a beginning, not an end” (M.ep.1:1). The training is completed when the holy instant becomes our only experience. We no longer see any value in choosing the ego rather than the love of Jesus in our minds. We go back and forth that way until we have let go entirely of all belief in the reality of separation, and sin, guilt, and fear.teach not that i died in vain