ACIM Text Reading for March 7
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
I. The Direction of the Curriculum
Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This is the prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is the condition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. Knowledge can be restored only when you meet its conditions. This is not a bargain made by God, Who makes no bargains. It is merely the result of your misuse of His laws on behalf of an imaginary will that is not His. Knowledge is His Will. If you are opposing His Will, how can you have knowledge? I have told you what knowledge offers you, but perhaps you do not yet regard this as wholly desirable. If you did you would not be so ready to throw it away when the ego asks for your allegiance.
The distractions of the ego may seem to interfere with your learning, but the ego has no power to distract you unless you give it the power to do so. The ego’s voice is an hallucination. You cannot expect it to say “I am not real.” Yet you are not asked to dispel your hallucinations alone. You are merely asked to evaluate them in terms of their results to you. If you do not want them on the basis of loss of peace, they will be removed from your mind for you.
Every response to the ego is a call to war, and war does deprive you of peace. Yet in this war there is no opponent. This is the reinterpretation of reality that you must make to secure peace, and the only one you need ever make. Those whom you perceive as opponents are part of your peace, which you are giving up by attacking them. How can you have what you give up? You share to have, but you do not give it up yourself. When you give up peace, you are excluding yourself from it. This is a condition so alien to the Kingdom that you cannot understand the state that prevails within it.
Your past learning must have taught you the wrong things, simply because it has not made you happy. On this basis alone its value should be questioned. If learning aims at change, and that is always its purpose, are you satisfied with the changes your learning has brought you? Dissatisfaction with learning outcomes is a sign of learning failure, since it means that you did not get what you wanted.
The curriculum of the Atonement is the opposite of the curriculum you have established for yourself, but so is its outcome. If the outcome of yours has made you unhappy, and if you want a different one, a change in the curriculum is obviously necessary. The first change to be introduced is a change in direction. A meaningful curriculum cannot be inconsistent. If it is planned by two teachers, each believing in diametrically opposed ideas, it cannot be integrated. If it is carried out by these two teachers simultaneously, each one merely interferes with the other. This leads to fluctuation, but not to change. The volatile have no direction. They cannot choose one because they cannot relinquish the other, even if it does not exist. Their conflicted curriculum teaches them that all directions exist, and gives them no rationale for choice.
The total senselessness of such a curriculum must be fully recognized before a real change in direction becomes possible. You cannot learn simultaneously from two teachers who are in total disagreement about everything. Their joint curriculum presents an impossible learning task. They are teaching you entirely different things in entirely different ways, which might be possible except that both are teaching you about yourself. Your reality is unaffected by both, but if you listen to both, your mind will be split about what your reality is.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 7
My happiness and my function are one.
You have surely noticed an emphasis throughout our recent lessons on the connection between fulfilling your function and achieving happiness. This is because you do not really see the connection. Yet there is more than just a connection between them; they are the same. Their forms are different, but their content is completely one.
The ego does constant battle with the Holy Spirit on the fundamental question of what your function is. So does it do constant battle with the Holy Spirit about what your happiness is. It is not a two-way battle. The ego attacks and the Holy Spirit does not respond. He knows what your function is. He knows that it is your happiness.
Today we will try to go past this wholly meaningless battle and arrive at the truth about your function. We will not engage in senseless arguments about what it is. We will not become hopelessly involved in defining happiness and determining the means for achieving it. We will not indulge the ego by listening to its attacks on truth. We will merely be glad that we can find out what truth is.
Our longer practice period today has as its purpose your acceptance of the fact that not only is there a very real connection between the function God gave you and your happiness, but that they are actually identical. God gives you only happiness. Therefore, the function He gave you must be happiness, even if it appears to be different. Today’s exercises are an attempt to go beyond these differences in appearance, and recognize a common content where it exists in truth.
Begin the ten-to-fifteen-minute practice period by reviewing these thoughts:
God gives me only happiness.
He has given my function to me.
Therefore my function must be happiness.
Try to see the logic in this sequence, even if you do not yet accept the conclusion. It is only if the first two thoughts are wrong that the conclusion could be false. Let us, then, think about the premises for a while, as we are practicing.
The first premise is that God gives you only happiness. This could be false, of course, but in order to be false it is necessary to define God as something He is not. Love cannot give evil, and what is not happiness is evil. God cannot give what He does not have, and He cannot have what He is not. Unless God gives you only happiness, He must be evil. And it is this definition of Him you are believing if you do not accept the first premise.
The second premise is that God has given you your function. We have seen that there are only two parts of your mind. One is ruled by the ego, and is made up of illusions. The other is the home of the Holy Spirit, where truth abides. There are no other guides but these to choose between, and no other outcomes possible as a result of your choice but the fear that the ego always engenders, and the love that the Holy Spirit always offers to replace it.
Thus, it must be that your function is established by God through His Voice, or is made by the ego which you have made to replace Him. Which is true? Unless God gave your function to you, it must be the gift of the ego. Does the ego really have gifts to give, being itself an illusion and offering only the illusion of gifts?
Think about this during the longer practice period today. Think also about the many forms the illusion of your function has taken in your mind, and the many ways in which you tried to find salvation under the ego’s guidance. Did you find it? Were you happy? Did they bring you peace? We need great honesty today. Remember the outcomes fairly, and consider also whether it was ever reasonable to expect happiness from anything the ego ever proposed. Yet the ego is the only alternative to the Holy Spirit’s Voice.
You will listen to madness or hear the truth. Try to make this choice as you think about the premises on which our conclusion rests. We can share in this conclusion, but in no other. For God Himself shares it with us. Today’s idea is another giant stride in the perception of the same as the same, and the different as different. On one side stand all illusions. All truth stands on the other. Let us try today to realize that only the truth is true.
In the shorter practice periods, which would be most helpful today if undertaken twice an hour, this form of the application is suggested:
My happiness and function are one, because God has
given me both.
It will not take more than a minute, and probably less, to repeat these words slowly and think about them a little while as you say them.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #790: I have been the victim of an attempted fraud by a medium sized profitable company and although I have resisted their civil claim which they finally dropped, my legal expenses and stress levels have been considerable. As I have hard evidence, and in the light of the teachings, should I now report them to the police? I agonize as much over this question as I did over the spurious court claim. Even if this attack is illusory, should I not prevent its repetition for the sake of future “victims” who also suffer in a world of illusion?
A: The forgiveness A Course in Miracles teaches is directed to a change of mind, not to any type of behavior. It is therefore possible to apply its teachings while reporting a crime to the police, filing legal suits, or doing any of the normal things involved in living in the world. The important thing is to be aware of the judgments based on differences that arise in any situation. For this purpose, the instructions in workbook lesson 21 are meant to be generalized and applied to every circumstance in which we find ourselves : “… search your mind carefully for situations past, present or anticipated that arouse anger in you. The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage. The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury” (W.pI.21.2:2,3,4,5). When this simple exercise is practiced diligently, hidden emotions, thoughts, and judgments are brought to awareness, revealing the unconscious choice, made in the mind, to believe the separation is real. Bringing this choice to awareness is the first step in the process of undoing the thought of separation that is the goal of the Course. The next step lies not in changing behavior in any way, nor in trying to change the judgments, but rather in accepting responsibility for the choice and acknowledging there is another choice that can be made.
While we believe we are in the world, we generally “give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” i.e., obey the rules of the world in form (file law suits, police reports, etc.). At the same time, we practice the Course by paying attention to the thoughts and judgments that arise in every situation. They reflect back to us the choice for separation that was made in the mind ( content ), and has been denied. It is important to remember this distinction between form and content whenever a decision about behavior must be made. A situation such as you describe is replete with opportunities to see many of the ego’s favorite themes in operation; not the least of which is the victim/victimizer plot. Again, the important thing is to pay attention to our thoughts, all of which are based on perception of differences that stem from the one thought of separation that is held in the mind. In this way, everything from rooting for your favorite baseball team to filing a police report is an opportunity to become aware of the choice for separation that has been hidden, denied and protected. Only when this choice is brought to awareness can the process of its undoing through forgiveness begin.
To the ego, the differences it perceives in all our experiences are important and purposeful. They support its belief system and prove it right. These differences make life complicated and keep us thoroughly involved. Yet it is only belief that the illusion is real that makes it seem that some situations are more serious than others, or some form of behavior is more spiritual than another. In the Course, Jesus tells us: “No illusion has any truth in it. Yet it appears some are more true than others, although this clearly makes no sense at all. All that a hierarchy of illusions can show is preference, not reality” (T.26.VII.6:3,4,5). This clearly relieves us of having to make the “right decision” on the level of form. Whatever course of action is decided upon, the only question worthy of consideration is whether to choose the ego or the Holy Spirit as teacher. Choosing the ego keeps attention focused on the drama of the situation as it appears in form, while the Holy Spirit brings the content of the mind into focus. Thus, the only thing that makes any specific behavior “right” or “wrong,” helpful or useless, is which teacher is chosen as guide. In this regard Jesus asks: “Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God?” Let this question be asked you by the Holy Spirit every time you make a decision. For every decision you make does answer this, and invites sorrow or joy accordingly” (T.15.III.5:1,2,3).