ACIM Text Reading for March 15
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
IX. Healing as Corrected Perception
I said before that the Holy Spirit is the Answer. He is the Answer to everything, because He knows what the answer to everything is. The ego does not know what a real question is, although it asks an endless number. Yet you can learn this as you learn to question the value of the ego, and thus establish your ability to evaluate its questions. When the ego tempts you to sickness do not ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body, for this would merely be to accept the ego’s belief that the body is the proper aim of healing. Ask, rather, that the Holy Spirit teach you the right perception of the body, for perception alone can be distorted. Only perception can be sick, because only perception can be wrong.
Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not. The reality of everything is totally harmless, because total harmlessness is the condition of its reality. It is also the condition of your awareness of its reality. You do not have to seek reality. It will seek you and find you when you meet its conditions. Its conditions are part of what it is. And this part only is up to you. The rest is of itself. You need do so little because your little part is so powerful that it will bring the whole to you. Accept, then, your little part, and let the whole be yours.
Wholeness heals because it is of the mind. All forms of sickness, even unto death, are physical expressions of the fear of awakening. They are attempts to reinforce sleeping out of fear of waking. This is a pathetic way of trying not to see by rendering the faculties for seeing ineffectual. “Rest in peace” is a blessing for the living, not the dead, because rest comes from waking, not from sleeping. Sleep is withdrawing; waking is joining. Dreams are illusions of joining, because they reflect the ego’s distorted notions about what joining is. Yet the Holy Spirit, too, has use for sleep, and can use dreams on behalf of waking if you will let Him.
How you wake is the sign of how you have used sleep. To whom did you give it? Under which teacher did you place it? Whenever you wake dispiritedly, it was not given to the Holy Spirit. Only when you awaken joyously have you utilized sleep according to His purpose. You can indeed be “drugged” by sleep, if you have misused it on behalf of sickness. Sleep is no more a form of death than death is a form of unconsciousness. Complete unconsciousness is impossible. You can rest in peace only because you are awake.
Healing is release from the fear of waking and the substitution of the decision to wake. The decision to wake is the reflection of the will to love, since all healing involves replacing fear with love. The Holy Spirit cannot distinguish among degrees of error, for if He taught that one form of sickness is more serious than another, He would be teaching that one error can be more real than another. His function is to distinguish only between the false and the true, replacing the false with the true.
The ego, which always wants to weaken the mind, tries to separate it from the body in an attempt to destroy it. Yet the ego actually believes that it is protecting it. This is because the ego believes that mind is dangerous, and that to make mindless is to heal. But to make mindless is impossible, since it would mean to make nothing out of what God created. The ego despises weakness, even though it makes every effort to induce it. The ego wants only what it hates. To the ego this is perfectly sensible. Believing in the power of attack, the ego wants attack.
The Bible enjoins you to be perfect, to heal all errors, to take no thought of the body as separate and to accomplish all things in my name. This is not my name alone, for ours is a shared identification. The Name of God’s Son is one, and you are enjoined to do the works of love because we share this oneness. Our minds are whole because they are one. If you are sick you are withdrawing from me. Yet you cannot withdraw from me alone. You can only withdraw from yourself and me.
You have surely begun to realize that this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says. I would not ask you to do things you cannot do, and it is impossible that I could do things you cannot do. Given this, and given this quite literally, nothing can prevent you from doing exactly what I ask, and everything argues for your doing it. I give you no limits because God lays none upon you. When you limit yourself we are not of one mind, and that is sickness. Yet sickness is not of the body, but of the mind. All forms of sickness are signs that the mind is split, and does not accept a unified purpose.
The unification of purpose, then, is the Holy Spirit’s only way of healing. This is because it is the only level at which healing means anything. The re-establishing of meaning in a chaotic thought system is the way to heal it. Your task is only to meet the conditions for meaning, since meaning itself is of God. Yet your return to meaning is essential to His, because your meaning is part of His. Your healing, then, is part of His health, since it is part of His Wholeness. He cannot lose this, but you can not know it. Yet it is still His Will for you, and His Will must stand forever and in all things.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 15
There is no will but God’s.
The idea for today can be regarded as the central thought toward which all our exercises are directed. God’s is the only Will. When you have recognized this, you have recognized that your will is His. The belief that conflict is possible has gone. Peace has replaced the strange idea that you are torn by conflicting goals. As an expression of the Will of God, you have no goal but His.
There is great peace in today’s idea, and the exercises for today are directed towards finding it. The idea itself is wholly true. Therefore it cannot give rise to illusions. Without illusions conflict is impossible. Let us try to recognize this today, and experience the peace this recognition brings.
Begin the longer practice periods by repeating these thoughts several times, slowly and with firm determination to understand what they mean, and to hold them in mind:
There is no will but God’s. I cannot be in conflict.
Then spend several minutes in adding some related thoughts, such as:
I am at peace.
Nothing can disturb me. My will is God’s.
My will and God’s are one.
God wills peace for His Son.
During this introductory phase, be sure to deal quickly with any conflict thoughts that may cross your mind. Tell yourself immediately:
There is no will but God’s. These conflict
thoughts are meaningless.
If there is one conflict area that seems particularly difficult to resolve, single it out for special consideration. Think about it briefly but very specifically, identify the particular person or persons and the situation or situations involved, and tell yourself:
There is no will but God’s. I share it with Him.
My conflicts about _____ cannot be real.
After you have cleared your mind in this way, close your eyes and try to experience the peace to which your reality entitles you. Sink into it and feel it closing around you. There may be some temptation to mistake these attempts for withdrawal, but the difference is easily detected. If you are succeeding, you will feel a deep sense of joy and an increased alertness, rather than a feeling of drowsiness and enervation.
Joy characterizes peace. By this experience will you recognize that you have reached it. If you feel yourself slipping off into withdrawal, quickly repeat the idea for today and try again. Do this as often as necessary. There is definite gain in refusing to allow retreat into withdrawal, even if you do not experience the peace you seek.
In the shorter periods, which should be undertaken at regular and predetermined intervals today, say to yourself:
There is no will but God’s. I seek His peace today.
Then try to find what you are seeking. A minute or two every half an hour, with eyes closed if possible, would be well spent on this today.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #883: i. A Course in Miracles talks about the illusory world disappearing once we realize that we have never left God. How is this possible? If I have a thought then that thought stays with me forever. It may fade into the background, but it never disappears and can be recalled at any time when triggered by a specific stimulus. The same should apply to all my thoughts that I have had in this illusion.
ii. We project our fear onto someone else and then become afraid of what that person will do to us. There are a couple of billion people in this world and who knows whatever else exists in other illusions that are different from our universe. Nothing exists in the illusion. Does this mean that I have projected my fears onto the billions that are on this planet?
A: i. The self that has the thought will disappear as well, for that is just as illusory as the world. That is difficult for us to grasp, to say nothing of the terror we feel when confronted with that fact. But as Jesus says, when the veil is lifted and the world is gone, “Nothing that you remember now will you remember” (T.19.IV.D.6:6) . Similarly, “You will not remember change and shift in Heaven. You have need of contrast only here” (T.13.IX.6:1,2) . In God, there is no consciousness, no individual self with memories or individual thoughts: “Nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:4) .
As we practice our forgiveness lessons and find perceptions of separation and differences less and less useful and appealing, we will gravitate more toward what binds us all as one. Over time, we will lose interest in anything that reminds us of separation and conflicting interests. This is what Jesus refers to as the “attraction of love for love” (T.12.VIII) , when the vision of Christ that sees us all as one becomes irresistible. This will grow in our awareness, and then one day we will awaken and thankfully realize that nothing else has ever been. The thoughts we held as individuals will have disappeared into the nothingness from which they came. This is a process that naturally and gradually occurs when our only focus throughout the day is forgiveness.
ii. This is a process that takes place entirely in the mind, which is outside time and space. That makes the mind’s process rather difficult for us to comprehend, because we always think about things in terms of linear time and space. Yet, Jesus emphasizes that the world is nothing other than “the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5) ; “It still is true that nothing is without. Yet upon nothing are all projections made. For it is the projection that gives the ‘nothing’ all the meaning that it holds” (T.20.VIII.9:7,8,9).
The point of this is that the mind is in such fear over its guilt — thanks to its decision to listen to the ego instead of the Holy Spirit — that it makes up a world filled with multitudes of objects onto which it can project its guilt. This is all going on only in the mind, though. There is not first a world and then a mind that projects its guilt and fear onto it. The strategy of projection, importantly, includes severing that connection, so that we wind up being aware only of a world of discrete things, having blocked out the fact that they are being generated by a mind seeking to unload its burden of guilt. Given this dynamic, you can project your fear onto anything at all. Usually, however, only certain people will trigger a reaction in you, not everyone. Remember, A Course in Miracles defines perception as interpretation — it is not what you physically see that constitutes perception; it is how you react to what you see. So when you react strongly to someone — and the person need not be physically present — you want to see that as an opportunity to go back to the decision-making point in your mind and ask for help to look at your guilt and fear with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. As you do that more and more, you will project less and less. Then, finally, you will let go of the guilt and fear all together.
Q #884: Is extending gratitude to the ideas which joined me in my physical, illusory play in the form of body cells and tissues, trees, animals, insects etc., bringing truth to illusions? Or does keeping in mind that the reality of everything is a loving idea, if seen from the Holy Spirit’s vantage point, allow the illusion to be brought to Truth? Is focusing on the ideas beyond the form the way to remember, that “God is in everything I see” (W.pI.29)?
A: Guilt for having chosen the separation and identity with the ego are the thoughts that made the body. These are certainly not thoughts for which to be grateful. The body is nothing to be grateful for, because of itself it is nothing (T19.IV.C.5:5) . In fact, there is nothing in the illusion of form that merits gratitude, precisely because it is illusion, not reality. Moreover, the world is the projection of the insane thought that the Son of God can be separate from his Source. Therefore, there is nothing inherently loving about it.
What’s more, in A Course in Miracles, Jesus tells us: we do not know what anything is for (W.pI.25) , we do not know who we are (T.9.I.2:5), what we really want (T.11.II.3:7), or what love is (T12.V.6:1) . In this state of confusion, how could we possibly know what to be grateful for? Hope lies in accepting what Jesus tells us: “ You do not know the meaning of anything you perceive. Not one thought you hold is wholly true. The recognition of this is your firm beginning” (T.11.VIII.3:1,2,3). The beginning is willingness to be taught to see everything differently by looking through the eyes of forgiveness.
The practice of forgiveness, whereby every judgment is recognized as the projection of a choice in the mind, is the only way to bring illusion to truth. The important focus in this process is being willing to remember that nothing external to the mind has any effect on it. This is the foundation of forgiveness and the perspective the Holy Spirit brings to every experience in the dream. We can then be grateful to everything and everyone by acknowledging that none of them is responsible for anything we feel. That is what is meant by the workbook lesson, “I am not the victim of the world I see” (W.pI.31) . This gratitude extends to oneself as well, in recognition of the mind’s power to choose the Holy Spirit or the ego as interpreter of every experience in the dream. We can be thankful that our happiness does not depend on anything outside our minds, and requires only that we choose it, by choosing the Holy Spirit.
The first step is learning that the “happiness” we seem to experience in the world is the ego’s specialness, not true happiness. This means looking honestly at all the things we think make us happy, and seeing them as tawdry substitutes for the real happiness we seek. As mentioned earlier, we don’t know what that is, but we can learn that it is not anything the world offers. This requires a little willingness to question every value that we hold (T.24.in.2:1) . Every value means “…all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. …everything [the mind] thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed” (W.pI.189.7:1,2). To question these values we must first recognize them, and so our function is only to: “…seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against [Him] ” (T.16.IV.6:1). We need not strive to see God in everything. When every value is questioned and found wanting, nothing will be held up to block the memory of God’s Love in our minds, and then He will be in everything we see. This does not mean that He is present in the dream in any way. It means that when the memory of His Love is not blocked by the ego’s specialness, everything is perceived through the lens of love’s reflection.