ACIM Text Reading for March 13
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
VII. The Body as a Means of Communication
Attack is always physical. When attack in any form enters your mind you are equating yourself with a body, since this is the ego’s interpretation of the body. You do not have to attack physically to accept this interpretation. You are accepting it simply by the belief that attack can get you something you want. If you did not believe this, the idea of attack would have no appeal for you. When you equate yourself with a body you will always experience depression. When a child of God thinks of himself in this way he is belittling himself, and seeing his brothers as similarly belittled. Since he can find himself only in them, he has cut himself off from salvation.
Remember that the Holy Spirit interprets the body only as a means of communication. Being the communication link between God and His separated Sons, the Holy Spirit interprets everything you have made in the light of what He is. The ego separates through the body. The Holy Spirit reaches through it to others. You do not perceive your brothers as the Holy Spirit does, because you do not regard bodies solely as a means of joining minds and uniting them with yours and mine. This interpretation of the body will change your mind entirely about its value. Of itself it has none.
If you use the body for attack, it is harmful to you. If you use it only to reach the minds of those who believe they are bodies, and teach them through the body that this is not so, you will understand the power of the mind that is in you. If you use the body for this and only for this, you cannot use it for attack. In the service of uniting it becomes a beautiful lesson in communion, which has value until communion is. This is God’s way of making unlimited what you have limited. The Holy Spirit does not see the body as you do, because He knows the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it.
Communication ends separation. Attack promotes it. The body is beautiful or ugly, peaceful or savage, helpful or harmful, according to the use to which it is put. And in the body of another you will see the use to which you have put yours. If the body becomes a means you give to the Holy Spirit to use on behalf of union of the Sonship, you will not see anything physical except as what it is. Use it for truth and you will see it truly. Misuse it and you will misunderstand it, because you have already done so by misusing it. Interpret anything apart from the Holy Spirit and you will mistrust it. This will lead you to hatred and attack and loss of peace.
Yet all loss comes only from your own misunderstanding. Loss of any kind is impossible. But when you look upon a brother as a physical entity, his power and glory are “lost” to you and so are yours. You have attacked him, but you must have attacked yourself first. Do not see him this way for your own salvation, which must bring him his. Do not allow him to belittle himself in your mind, but give him freedom from his belief in littleness, and thus escape from yours. As part of you, he is holy. As part of me, you are. To communicate with part of God Himself is to reach beyond the Kingdom to its Creator, through His Voice Which He has established as part of you.
Rejoice, then, that of yourself you can do nothing. You are not of yourself. He of Whom you are has willed your power and glory for you, with which you can perfectly accomplish His holy Will for you when you accept it for yourself. He has not withdrawn His gifts from you, but you believe you have withdrawn them from Him. Let no Son of God remain hidden for His Name’s sake, because His Name is yours.
The Bible says, “The word (or thought) was made flesh.” Strictly speaking this is impossible, since it seems to involve the translation of one order of reality into another. Different orders of reality merely appear to exist, just as different orders of miracles do. Thought cannot be made into flesh except by belief, since thought is not physical. Yet thought is communication, for which the body can be used. This is the only natural use to which it can be put. To use the body unnaturally is to lose the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and thus to confuse the goal of His curriculum.
There is nothing so frustrating to a learner as a curriculum he cannot learn. His sense of adequacy suffers, and he must become depressed. Being faced with an impossible learning situation is the most depressing thing in the world. In fact, it is ultimately why the world itself is depressing. The Holy Spirit’s curriculum is never depressing, because it is a curriculum of joy. Whenever the reaction to learning is depression, it is because the true goal of the curriculum has been lost sight of.
In this world, not even the body is perceived as whole. Its purpose is seen as fragmented into many functions with little or no relationship to each other, so that it appears to be ruled by chaos. Guided by the ego, it is. Guided by the Holy Spirit, it is not. It becomes a means by which the part of the mind you tried to separate from spirit can reach beyond its distortions and return to spirit. The ego’s temple thus becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, where devotion to Him replaces devotion to the ego. In this sense the body does become a temple to God; His Voice abides in it by directing the use to which it is put.
Healing is the result of using the body solely for communication. Since this is natural it heals by making whole, which is also natural. All mind is whole, and the belief that part of it is physical, or not mind, is a fragmented or sick interpretation. Mind cannot be made physical, but it can be made manifest through the physical if it uses the body to go beyond itself. By reaching out, the mind extends itself. It does not stop at the body, for if it does it is blocked in its purpose. A mind that has been blocked has allowed itself to be vulnerable to attack, because it has turned against itself.
The removal of blocks, then, is the only way to guarantee help and healing. Help and healing are the normal expressions of a mind that is working through the body, but not in it. If the mind believes the body is its goal it will distort its perception of the body, and by blocking its own extension beyond it, will induce illness by fostering separation. Perceiving the body as a separate entity cannot but foster illness, because it is not true. A medium of communication loses its usefulness if it is used for anything else. To use a medium of communication as a medium of attack is an obvious confusion in purpose.
To communicate is to join and to attack is to separate. How can you do both simultaneously with the same thing and not suffer? Perception of the body can be unified only by one purpose. This releases the mind from the temptation to see the body in many lights, and gives it over entirely to the One Light in Which it can be really understood. To confuse a learning device with a curriculum goal is a fundamental confusion that blocks the understanding of both. Learning must lead beyond the body to the re-establishment of the power of the mind in it. This can be accomplished only if the mind extends to other minds, and does not arrest itself in its extension. This arrest is the cause of all illness, because only extension is the mind’s function.
The opposite of joy is depression. When your learning promotes depression instead of joy, you cannot be listening to God’s joyous Teacher and learning His lessons. To see a body as anything except a means of communication is to limit your mind and to hurt yourself. Health is therefore nothing more than united purpose. If the body is brought under the purpose of the mind, it becomes whole because the mind’s purpose is one. Attack can only be an assumed purpose of the body, because apart from the mind the body has no purpose at all.
You are not limited by the body, and thought cannot be made flesh. Yet mind can be manifested through the body if it goes beyond it and does not interpret it as limitation. Whenever you see another as limited to or by the body, you are imposing this limit on yourself. Are you willing to accept this, when your whole purpose for learning should be to escape from limitations? To conceive of the body as a means of attack and to believe that joy could possibly result, is a clear-cut indication of a poor learner. He has accepted a learning goal in obvious contradiction to the unified purpose of the curriculum, and one that is interfering with his ability to accept its purpose as his own.
Joy is unified purpose, and unified purpose is only God’s. When yours is unified it is His. Believe you can interfere with His purpose, and you need salvation. You have condemned yourself, but condemnation is not of God. Therefore it is not true. No more are any of its seeming results. When you see a brother as a body, you are condemning him because you have condemned yourself. Yet if all condemnation is unreal, and it must be unreal since it is a form of attack, then it can have no results.
Do not allow yourself to suffer from imagined results of what is not true. Free your mind from the belief that this is possible. In its complete impossibility lies your only hope for release. But what other hope would you want? Freedom from illusions lies only in not believing them. There is no attack, but there is unlimited communication and therefore unlimited power and wholeness. The power of wholeness is extension. Do not arrest your thought in this world, and you will open your mind to creation in God.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 13
I will there be light.
Today we are considering the will you share with God. This is not the same as the ego’s idle wishes, out of which darkness and nothingness arise. The will you share with God has all the power of creation in it. The ego’s idle wishes are unshared, and therefore have no power at all. Its wishes are not idle in the sense that they can make a world of illusions in which your belief can be very strong. But they are idle indeed in terms of creation. They make nothing that is real.
Idle wishes and grievances are partners or co-makers in picturing the world you see. The wishes of the ego gave rise to it, and the ego’s need for grievances, which are necessary to maintain it, peoples it with figures that seem to attack you and call for “righteous” judgment. These figures become the middlemen the ego employs to traffic in grievances. They stand between your awareness and your brothers’ reality. Beholding them, you do not know your brothers or your Self.
Your will is lost to you in this strange bartering, in which guilt is traded back and forth, and grievances increase with each exchange. Can such a world have been created by the Will the Son of God shares with his Father? Did God create disaster for His Son? Creation is the Will of Both together. Would God create a world that kills Himself?
Today we will try once more to reach the world that is in accordance with your will. The light is in it because it does not oppose the Will of God. It is not Heaven, but the light of Heaven shines on it. Darkness has vanished. The ego’s idle wishes have been withdrawn. Yet the light that shines upon this world reflects your will, and so it must be in you that we will look for it.
Your picture of the world can only mirror what is within. The source of neither light nor darkness can be found without. Grievances darken your mind, and you look out on a darkened world. Forgiveness lifts the darkness, reasserts your will, and lets you look upon a world of light. We have repeatedly emphasized that the barrier of grievances is easily passed, and cannot stand between you and your salvation. The reason is very simple. Do you really want to be in hell? Do you really want to weep and suffer and die?
Forget the ego’s arguments which seek to prove all this is really Heaven. You know it is not so. You cannot want this for yourself. There is a point beyond which illusions cannot go. Suffering is not happiness, and it is happiness you really want. Such is your will in truth. And so salvation is your will as well. You want to succeed in what we are trying to do today. We undertake it with your blessing and your glad accord.
We will succeed today if you remember that you want salvation for yourself. You want to accept God’s plan because you share in it. You have no will that can really oppose it, and you do not want to do so. Salvation is for you. Above all else, you want the freedom to remember Who you really are. Today it is the ego that stands powerless before your will. Your will is free, and nothing can prevail against it.
Therefore, we undertake the exercises for today in happy confidence, certain that we will find what it is your will to find, and remember what it is your will to remember. No idle wishes can detain us, nor deceive us with an illusion of strength. Today let your will be done, and end forever the insane belief that it is hell in place of Heaven that you choose.
We will begin our longer practice periods with the recognition that God’s plan for salvation, and only His, is wholly in accord with your will. It is not the purpose of an alien power, thrust upon you unwillingly. It is the one purpose here on which you and your Father are in perfect accord. You will succeed today, the time appointed for the release of the Son of God from hell and from all idle wishes. His will is now restored to his awareness. He is willing this very day to look upon the light in him and be saved.
After reminding yourself of this, and determining to keep your will clearly in mind, tell yourself with gentle firmness and quiet certainty:
I will there be light. Let me behold the light that reflects
God’s Will and mine.
Then let your will assert itself, joined with the power of God and united with your Self. Put the rest of the practice period under Their guidance. Join with Them as They lead the way.
In the shorter practice periods, again make a declaration of what you really want. Say:
I will there be light. Darkness is not my will.
This should be repeated several times an hour. It is most important, however, to apply today’s idea in this form immediately you are tempted to hold a grievance of any kind. This will help you let your grievances go, instead of cherishing them and hiding them in darkness.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #784: I am struggling with getting my head around the simplicity of A Course in Miracles , as every time I read a piece of the text or other material, I am hearing different instructions on how I should ‘do it’ and assist my journey home. Would there be one single definitive line or instruction that I could post around my daily environments (work/home/car) which I could stick to and which would ensure that I am ‘doing the right thing’ by the Course? I am desperate for some clarity.
A) First, the most helpful thing you can do for yourself is to stop worrying about “doing it right.” If there is one thing that stands out in the Course it is that Jesus is interested only in the content in our minds, not in what we do or how perfectly we carry out his instructions. It is only our willingness to do what he says that has a bearing on our spiritual progress — that we would want to do what he says. Thus, he says “ trust implicitly your willingness, whatever else may enter. Concentrate only on this, and be not disturbed that shadows surround it. That is why you came. If you could come without them you would not need the holy instant” (T.18.IV.2:3,4,5,6) . The “shadows” would be our resistance and all the concern, confusion, and complexity in our minds; and because of these shadows in our minds Jesus must say the same thing in many different ways. But, as he teaches us in Lessons 79 and 80, there is only one problem — separation — and it has been solved (W.pI.79, 80) . Concern and confusion arise only because we have not yet accepted this. Thus Jesus counsels us: “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” (W.pI.80.3:3,4,5,6) . What would help you therefore is to learn to see the common content behind the different forms of the instructions in the Course.
Second, it is important to realize that by trying so hard and being so intent on “doing it right,” you are making the error real, and in that sense, working against your desire to return home. Although it is a paradox to us, we must recall that we are really undoing something that never happened. That is what the journey home is about: simply realizing that we never did anything that we need to undo; we just think we did. So whenever you feel pressure about this journey, you have dropped Jesus’ hand and are allowing the ego to accompany you instead. Granted, we must learn which is which, but one thing is for sure, Jesus is very gentle and very patient, and he would never pressure us to “get it right.”
In view of all this, your one definitive line could be something like: Remember to smile when you find yourself trying really hard to be serious.
Q #785: I am fairly new to A Course in Miracles and presently find myself in an uncomfortable “no-man’s land” spiritually. My previous approach to God and Jesus led to a major spiritual awakening, that resulted in a seeming limitless upward spiral into peace, joy and a profound shift away from fear, worry, resentment, judgment and depression, for three years.
Recently I stumbled upon the Course, and found it not only intriguing, but resonant. However, in the process of moving the furniture around in my head, it “pulled the carpet out” from underneath my previous model of relating to my dear, sweet, ineffably beautiful Teacher. To confront the fact that there is no interaction in this life; indeed no Jesus or Holy Spirit in “reality,” has left me bereft and more than a little confused. Was my peace and certainty somehow a sham, a forgery, an hysterical foray into false spirituality? I am still committed solely to grasping what is Truth, not some magic words or a formula to restore my previous “bliss.” I’m just a little disrupted and uncoordinated in my efforts get through these next steps.
A: The Course tells us: “…teaching [which, is the same as learning] is a constant process” (M.in.1:6). The helpful word here is process. Awakening from the nightmare of separation is a process taking place in the mind, where a decision is made not to choose the ego. This decision takes place in stages described in the manual in the section “Development of Trust,” and is expressed and experienced in different forms made up of symbols, until at the very end of the process the mind decides to choose only the truth. Your experience is described in the fourth stage Meanwhile, because belief in the body is maintained we have need of symbols, which change along the way: “…we need a many-faceted curriculum, not because of content differences, but because symbols must shift and change to suit the need” (M.23.7:5). Thus, a symbol or form that was helpful at one stage of the journey may no longer be needed or suitable at another time. Religious beliefs and practices, figures such as Jesus and the Holy Spirit, words, A Course in Miracles , are all symbols. When a symbol changes, it does not mean that it was false, it simply means that it has changed.Your experience, therefore, was not a forgery; it was an important step in the process. The choice made in your mind remains with you as you come to the Course. Nothing is lost, as Jesus assures us in the text: “I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance” (T.5.IV.8:3,4) . He also tells us in the manual that on the journey there are periods of rest and reasonable peace for the teacher of God. Yet there are further steps to take, and “.…when he is ready to go on, he goes with mighty companions beside him”(M.4.I.A.6:11) .
When the mind makes a decision against the ego, the specific religious context in which it is made is irrelevant, in fact, a religious context is not even necessary. The effect of the experience is the lessening of fear. As layers of fear are removed, light enters and is again experienced in some form in an upward spiral toward the truth, each step facilitating the next. This is the gentle process of awakening that makes use of symbols to lead us beyond them. Although the symbols are not real, while we are asleep, “dreaming of exile” (T.10.I.2:1), they are useful when given to the Holy Spirit for the purpose of healing. In this regard, the Course simplifies the process by teaching that everything is helpful. There is nothing that the ego made to support belief in the separation that cannot be used by the Holy Spirit to undo it.
Intellectually we may understand that spirit is formless and nothing outside of Heaven exists, but as Jesus tells us in the text, “Everything you recognize you identify with externals, something outside itself. You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T.18.VIII.1:6,7). Therefore, as long as the choice for a separate self is maintained, there is need for a figure, perceived as separate from the self, to represent the Self that has been denied. A relationship with such a figure is very helpful. So although the Course teaches that ultimately nothing in the illusion is real, Jesus invites us to have a relationship with him. He uses the loving image of himself as an older brother (T.1.II.4) who meets us where we believe we are, and leads us gently to where he is: Let my relationship to you be real to you… Be not separate from me, and let not the holy purpose of Atonement be lost to you in dreams of vengeance… Let me enter in the Name of God and bring you peace, that you may offer peace to me” (T.17.III.10:2,6,8). There is no need, therefore, to feel bereft of a loving teacher. Through the words of the Course and in every step of the practice of forgiveness, Jesus is with us representing the part of the mind that remembers God’s Love: “Jesus has come to answer [your need] . In him you find God’s Answer. Do you, then, teach with him, for he is with you; he is always here” (M.23.7:6,7,8). When we finally learn from our experience (not intellectual understanding) that we are the Self that he symbolizes, we will no longer perceive ourselves as separate from him or anyone else. Only then will formlessness replace all symbol. Until then, we may be grateful that we do have a brother, a teacher, and a Course to guide us to the happy dream that precedes full awakening: “Helpers are given you in many forms, although upon the altar they are one. Beyond each one there is a Thought of God, and this will never change…Thank God for them for they will lead you home”(C.5.1:3,4,9).