ACIM Text Reading for March 5
Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom
X. The Confusion of Pain and Joy
The Kingdom is the result of premises, just as this world is. You may have carried the ego’s reasoning to its logical conclusion, which is total confusion about everything. If you really saw this result you could not want it. The only reason you could possibly want any part of it is because you do not see the whole of it. You are willing to look at the ego’s premises, but not at their logical outcome. Is it not possible that you have done the same thing with the premises of God? Your creations are the logical outcome of His premises. His thinking has established them for you. They are exactly where they belong. They belong in your mind as part of your identification with His, but your state of mind and your recognition of what is in it depend on what you believe about your mind. Whatever these beliefs may be, they are the premises that will determine what you accept into your mind.
It is surely clear that you can both accept into your mind what is not there, and deny what is. Yet the function God Himself gave your mind through His you may deny, but you cannot prevent. It is the logical outcome of what you are. The ability to see a logical outcome depends on the willingness to see it, but its truth has nothing to do with your willingness. Truth is God’s Will. Share His Will and you share what He knows. Deny His Will as yours, and you are denying His Kingdom and yours.
The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. Surely no one would object to this goal if he recognized it. The problem is not whether what the Holy Spirit says is true, but whether you want to listen to what He says. You no more recognize what is painful than you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain. This confusion is the cause of the whole idea of sacrifice. Obey the Holy Spirit, and you will be giving up the ego. But you will be sacrificing nothing. On the contrary, you will be gaining everything. If you believed this, there would be no conflict.
That is why you need to demonstrate the obvious to yourself. It is not obvious to you. You believe that doing the opposite of God’s Will can be better for you. You also believe that it is possible to do the opposite of God’s Will. Therefore, you believe that an impossible choice is open to you, and one which is both fearful and desirable. Yet God wills. He does not wish. Your will is as powerful as His because it is His. The ego’s wishes do not mean anything, because the ego wishes for the impossible. You can wish for the impossible, but you can will only with God. This is the ego’s weakness and your strength.
The Holy Spirit always sides with you and with your strength. As long as you avoid His guidance in any way, you want to be weak. Yet weakness is frightening. What else, then, can this decision mean except that you want to be fearful? The Holy Spirit never asks for sacrifice, but the ego always does. When you are confused about this distinction in motivation, it can only be due to projection. Projection is a confusion in motivation, and given this confusion, trust becomes impossible. No one gladly obeys a guide he does not trust, but this does not mean that the guide is untrustworthy. In this case, it always means that the follower is. However, this, too, is merely a matter of his own belief. Believing that he can betray, he believes that everything can betray him. Yet this is only because he has elected to follow false guidance. Unable to follow this guidance without fear, he associates fear with guidance, and refuses to follow any guidance at all.
The Holy Spirit is perfectly trustworthy, as you are. God Himself trusts you, and therefore your trustworthiness is beyond question. It will always remain beyond question, however much you may question it. I said before that you are the Will of God. His Will is not an idle wish, and your identification with His Will is not optional, since it is what you are. Sharing His Will with me is not really open to choice, though it may seem to be. The whole separation lies in this error. The only way out of the error is to decide that you do not have to decide anything. Everything has been given you by God’s decision. That is His Will, and you cannot undo it.
Even the relinquishment of your false decision-making prerogative, which the ego guards so jealously, is not accomplished by your wish. It was accomplished for you by the Will of God, Who has not left you comfortless. His Voice will teach you how to distinguish between pain and joy, and will lead you out of the confusion you have made. There is no confusion in the mind of a Son of God, whose will must be the Will of the Father, because the Father’s Will is His Son.
Miracles are in accord with the Will of God, Whose Will you do not know because you are confused about what you will. This means that you are confused about what you are. If you are God’s Will and do not accept His Will, you are denying joy. The miracle is therefore a lesson in what joy is. Being a lesson in sharing it is a lesson in love, which is joy. Every miracle is thus a lesson in truth, and by offering truth you are learning the difference between pain and joy.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 5
Let me not forget my function.
Today’s idea is merely another way of saying “Let me not wander into temptation.” The purpose of the world you see is to obscure your function of forgiveness, and provide you with a justification for forgetting it. It is the temptation to abandon God and His Son by taking on a physical appearance. It is this the body’s eyes look upon.
Nothing the body’s eyes seem to see can be anything but a form of temptation, since this was the purpose of the body itself. Yet we have learned that the Holy Spirit has another use for all the illusions you have made, and therefore He sees another purpose in them. To the Holy Spirit, the world is a place where you learn to forgive yourself what you think of as your sins. In this perception, the physical appearance of temptation becomes the spiritual recognition of salvation.
To review our last few lessons, your function here is to be the light of the world, a function given you by God. It is only the arrogance of the ego that leads you to question this, and only the fear of the ego that induces you to regard yourself as unworthy of the task assigned to you by God Himself. The world’s salvation awaits your forgiveness, because through it does the Son of God escape from all illusions, and thus from all temptation. The Son of God is you.
Only by fulfilling the function given you by God will you be happy. That is because your function is to be happy by using the means by which happiness becomes inevitable. There is no other way. Therefore, every time you choose whether or not to fulfill your function, you are really choosing whether or not to be happy.
Let us remember this today. Let us remind ourselves of it in the morning and again at night, and all through the day as well. Prepare yourself in advance for all the decisions you will make today by remembering they are all really very simple. Each one will lead to happiness or unhappiness. Can such a simple decision really be difficult to make? Let not the form of the decision deceive you. Complexity of form does not imply complexity of content. It is impossible that any decision on earth can have a content different from just this one simple choice. That is the only choice the Holy Spirit sees. Therefore it is the only choice there is.
Today, then, let us practice with these thoughts:
Let me not forget my function.
Let me not try to substitute mine for God’s.
Let me forgive and be happy.
At least once devote ten or fifteen minutes today to reflecting on this with closed eyes. Related thoughts will come to help you, if you remember the crucial importance of your function to you and to the world.
In the frequent applications of today’s idea throughout the day, devote several minutes to reviewing these thoughts, and then thinking about them and about nothing else. This will be difficult, at first particularly, since you are not proficient in the mind discipline that it requires. You may need to repeat “Let me not forget my function” quite often to help you concentrate.
Two forms of shorter practice periods are required. At times, do the exercises with your eyes closed, trying to concentrate on the thoughts you are using. At other times, keep your eyes open after reviewing the thoughts, and then look slowly and unselectively around you, telling yourself:
This is the world it is my function to save.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: The “secret sins and hidden hates” are the separation beliefs the mind holds, but covers over with heavy layers of denial and projection. In fact, the mind builds a defensive fortress around its plot to keep separation real in its awareness. The cement that holds the whole thing together is denial. Almost simultaneously with its choice to be separate, the mind judges the choice as sinful, feels tremendous guilt for the “sin,” projects the guilt out to the body, and then denies it ever did anything. It thereby denies its power to choose and, most importantly, its identity as mind. Key to the success of this plot is keeping it hidden from awareness so the mind can convince itself that it is powerless and has no choice but to accept the ego’s dream of separation. Once the mind finds itself embroiled in the illusion of the body, it continues to keep its sin and guilt hidden from awareness by projecting them out and blaming external agents for its predicament. The main target of this scheme is the ego’s made-up God. The ego tells a very convincing tale to get the mind off the hook and ensure that its power and, most importantly its choice, are kept hidden: God made the world and the body, tricked his creatures into sinning, and is now tracking them down to punish them with death. This insanity is the foundation of the ego’s plan for salvation through sacrifice and death, sustained by guilt and fear, and designed to keep the Son of God out of his mind.
Since hiding the mind’s activity through denial is at the core of the ego’s insanity, the Holy Spirit’s curriculum of healing begins with uncovering what was hidden, and restoring to awareness the mind’s power to choose. That is why so much of the teaching of the Course is devoted to describing the ego’s dynamics. The key to unraveling the thick layers of denial is to train the mind to recognize the ego’s antics in operation in one’s life. Recognizing the mind’s projections returns the source of the problem to the mind where it belongs. That is the first step in the forgiveness process. We find many passages in A Course in Miracles where Jesus exhorts us to look: “You must look upon your illusions and not keep them hidden, because they do not rest on their own foundation. In concealment they appear to do so, and thus they seem to be self- sustained. This is the fundamental illusion on which the others rest. For beneath them, and concealed as long as they are hidden, is the loving mind that thought it made them in anger. And the pain in this mind is so apparent, when it is uncovered, that its need of healing cannot be denied. Not all the tricks and games you offer it can heal it, for here is the real crucifixion of God’s Son” (T.13.III.7:1,2,3,4,5,6). Several layers of the mind’s denial network are revealed in this passage: illusions hide behind projections that seem to have a life of their own, hidden behind the illusions is the “loving mind,” as well as the pain that results from the mind’s decision. The intense pain of denying God’s Love is hidden behind all the ego’s frantic attempts (“tricks and games”) to make the illusion of separation real and convince God’s Son that happiness is possible outside of Heaven. No matter how hard the ego tries, it cannot undo the anguish of its error, and by confusing itself with the ego, the mind has crucified God’s Son. This is the ego’s arsenal of “secret sins.”
Hidden beneath all the debris of the guilt-infested secret sins is the mind’s best kept “sinless secret”: the memory of God’s Love. The Holy Spirit’s healing process is aimed at undoing belief in the mind’s secret sins so the Love that lies buried beneath them can be revealed. To that end, we are asked to look with the Holy Spirit at what has been hidden: “Do not leave any spot of pain hidden from His light, and search your mind carefully for any thoughts you may fear to uncover [the “sinful” as well as the sinless] . For He will heal every little thought you have kept to hurt you and cleanse it of its littleness, restoring it to the magnitude of God” (T.13.III.7:5,6, italics ours ).
Q #1154 I have heard people say “it makes me happy to help others.” I never thought that there was anything “bad” about that statement until I made that comment and my brother said that I was trying to please myself. I started wondering who was doing the talk, the ego or the spirit? I know that God wants us to be happy, but how can you tell if the happiness that comes from helping others comes from the ego? Can you give me your opinion?
A: Yes, God wants us to be happy, but that happiness can be found only through remembering we belong to Him and not to the world in any way ( see Lesson 182 — W.pI.182). When we forget this (which is usually all the time), we will be unhappy and then seek outside us for something that will make us happy. That could be anything at all, including helping others. But the behavior of helping others (the form) does not, in itself, tell you whether it came from your mind’s choice for the ego or the Holy Spirit (the content). If it was a right-minded choice, then you would have no investment in the outcome of what you did; your inner peace and happiness would not be affected by the situation in any way; you would not take anything personally — praise or criticism; you would not perceive the situation in terms of victims and victimizers; you would not exclude anyone from the love and kindness you extended to that particular person — the content of love in your mind, not the form of the help).
Jesus is teaching us in A Course in Miracles to focus on the purpose we have chosen in our minds, a choice that precedes behavioral interaction. That is the only relevant aspect of what we do — our choice of teacher. You have chosen the ego’s thought system of separation if your focus is on the body — what bodies do or don’t do and how that affects you. You have chosen the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness if you focus on seeing shared interests, as opposed to separate interests, and you are increasingly attracted to seeing everyone as part of the Sonship, without exception.