ACIM Text Reading for March 18
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
III. The Correction of Error
The alertness of the ego to the errors of other egos is not the kind of vigilance the Holy Spirit would have you maintain. Egos are critical in terms of the kind of “sense” they stand for. They understand this kind of sense, because it is sensible to them. To the Holy Spirit it makes no sense at all.
To the ego it is kind and right and good to point out errors and “correct” them. This makes perfect sense to the ego, which is unaware of what errors are and what correction is. Errors are of the ego, and correction of errors lies in the relinquishment of the ego. When you correct a brother, you are telling him that he is wrong. He may be making no sense at the time, and it is certain that, if he is speaking from the ego, he will not be making sense. But your task is still to tell him he is right. You do not tell him this verbally, if he is speaking foolishly. He needs correction at another level, because his error is at another level. He is still right, because he is a Son of God. His ego is always wrong, no matter what it says or does.
If you point out the errors of your brother’s ego you must be seeing through yours, because the Holy Spirit does not perceive his errors. This must be true, since there is no communication between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego makes no sense, and the Holy Spirit does not attempt to understand anything that arises from it. Since He does not understand it, He does not judge it, knowing that nothing the ego makes means anything.
When you react at all to errors, you are not listening to the Holy Spirit. He has merely disregarded them, and if you attend to them you are not hearing Him. If you do not hear Him, you are listening to your ego and making as little sense as the brother whose errors you perceive. This cannot be correction. Yet it is more than merely a lack of correction for him. It is the giving up of correction in yourself.
When a brother behaves insanely, you can heal him only by perceiving the sanity in him. If you perceive his errors and accept them, you are accepting yours. If you want to give yours over to the Holy Spirit, you must do this with his. Unless this becomes the one way in which you handle all errors, you cannot understand how all errors are undone. How is this different from telling you that what you teach you learn? Your brother is as right as you are, and if you think he is wrong you are condemning yourself.
You cannot correct yourself. Is it possible, then, for you to correct another? Yet you can see him truly, because it is possible for you to see yourself truly. It is not up to you to change your brother, but merely to accept him as he is. His errors do not come from the truth that is in him, and only this truth is yours. His errors cannot change this, and can have no effect at all on the truth in you. To perceive errors in anyone, and to react to them as if they were real, is to make them real to you. You will not escape paying the price for this, not because you are being punished for it, but because you are following the wrong guide and will therefore lose your way.
Your brother’s errors are not of him, any more than yours are of you. Accept his errors as real, and you have attacked yourself. If you would find your way and keep it, see only truth beside you for you walk together. The Holy Spirit in you forgives all things in you and in your brother. His errors are forgiven with yours. Atonement is no more separate than love. Atonement cannot be separate because it comes from love. Any attempt you make to correct a brother means that you believe correction by you is possible, and this can only be the arrogance of the ego. Correction is of God, Who does not know of arrogance.
The Holy Spirit forgives everything because God created everything. Do not undertake His function, or you will forget yours. Accept only the function of healing in time, because that is what time is for. God gave you the function to create in eternity. You do not need to learn that, but you do need to learn to want it. For that all learning was made. This is the Holy Spirit’s use of an ability that you do not need, but that you made. Give it to Him! You do not understand how to use it. He will teach you how to see yourself without condemnation, by learning how to look on everything without it. Condemnation will then not be real to you, and all your errors will be forgiven.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 18
I am entitled to miracles.
You are entitled to miracles because of what you are. You will receive miracles because of what God is. And you will offer miracles because you are one with God. Again, how simple is salvation! It is merely a statement of your true Identity. It is this that we will celebrate today.
Your claim to miracles does not lie in your illusions about yourself. It does not depend on any magical powers you have ascribed to yourself, nor on any of the rituals you have devised. It is inherent in the truth of what you are. It is implicit in what God your Father is. It was ensured in your creation, and guaranteed by the laws of God.
Today we will claim the miracles which are your right, since they belong to you. You have been promised full release from the world you made. You have been assured that the Kingdom of God is within you, and can never be lost. We ask no more than what belongs to us in truth. Today, however, we will also make sure that we will not content ourselves with less.
Begin the longer practice periods by telling yourself quite confidently that you are entitled to miracles. Closing your eyes, remind yourself that you are asking only for what is rightfully yours. Remind yourself also that miracles are never taken from one and given to another, and that in asking for your rights, you are upholding the rights of everyone. Miracles do not obey the laws of this world. They merely follow from the laws of God.
After this brief introductory phase, wait quietly for the assurance that your request is granted. You have asked for the salvation of the world, and for your own. You have requested that you be given the means by which this is accomplished. You cannot fail to be assured in this. You are but asking that the Will of God be done.
In doing this, you do not really ask for anything. You state a fact that cannot be denied. The Holy Spirit cannot but assure you that your request is granted. The fact that you accepted must be so. There is no room for doubt and uncertainty today. We are asking a real question at last. The answer is a simple statement of a simple fact. You will receive the assurance that you seek.
Our shorter practice periods will be frequent, and will also be devoted to a reminder of a simple fact. Tell yourself often today:
I am entitled to miracles.
Ask for them whenever a situation arises in which they are called for. You will recognize these situations. And since you are not relying on yourself to find the miracle, you are fully entitled to receive it whenever you ask.
Remember, too, not to be satisfied with less than the perfect answer. Be quick to tell yourself, should you be tempted:
I will not trade miracles for grievances. I want only what
belongs to me. God has established miracles as my right.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q#101: I would like to know if anyone who has practiced A Course in Miracles has become enlightened. Do you know of anyone who feels/knows that they are in absolute connection with God and therefore, never out of a state of peace?
A: We don’t have any reports of this nature, but that does not mean anything. A truly enlightened person would have no need to let others know of his or her having totally transcended the ego. In fact, that might be a helpful way of evaluating someone’s claim to having achieved enlightenment. If such a person goes around announcing it, that is almost a sure sign that there is still some ego left. As the Course portrays the state, there is basically only one characteristic that might stand out, which is that the person would smile more frequently:“There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet. And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own” (W.pI.155.1:1,2,3,4).
There are numerous accounts of students, though, who have experienced significant shifts in their thinking and in their reactions, so that what formerly had “pushed all their buttons,” for example, no longer evokes the same reaction. Forgiveness works, in other words, and so that should be the focus of each day.
Finally, with reference to someone being in “absolute connection with God,” we refer you to the section in the manual, “Can God Be Reached Directly?” (M.26). There Jesus tells us: “Sometimes a teacher of God may have a brief experience of direct union with God. In this world, it is almost impossible that this endure. It can, perhaps, be won after much devotion and dedication, and then be maintained for much of the time on earth. But this is so rare that it cannot be considered a realistic goal. If it happens, so be it. If it does not happen, so be it as well. All worldly states must be illusory. If God were reached directly in sustained awareness, the body would not be long maintained” (M.26.3:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8).
Thus, direct union with God is not the goal of the Course’s curriculum. Reaching a state of peace is its goal, where we rise above the battleground with Jesus and look back down with compassion for everyone. “This Course will lead to knowledge, but knowledge itself is still beyond the scope of our curriculum. Nor is there any need for us to try to speak of what must forever lie beyond words.…It is not for us to dwell on what cannot be attained. There is too much to learn. The readiness for knowledge still must be attained” (T.18.IX.11:1,2,5,6,7).
Q #102: I am really into self-help books. I have read that psychotherapy and counseling can be helpful for the student of A Course In Miracles because it can help reveal the ego’s blocks to the awareness of love’s presence. Is this the case for self-help as well? Or do self-help materials hold more potential than formalized counseling to enmesh readers in their own problems?
A: An advantage of psychotherapy and counseling over self-help books is that there is someone else to observe your ego, hopefully in a non-judgmental way, and point out its dynamics in areas you may be very effectively keeping hidden from yourself. It is usually easier to recognize someone else’s defenses rather than our own. But self-help books still can be of value in helping you identify your own maladaptive patterns of behavior and underlying thoughts, if you’re willing to be honest with yourself.
For any self-improvement tool that you’re considering, including therapy, you may want to ask yourself the following questions in evaluating its usefulness:
Is this helping me to take more responsibility for my thoughts and feelings and actions or is it reinforcing the ego dynamic of seeing and holding others responsible for my dysfunction and unhappiness (although uncovering a dynamic of blaming others can be an important first step in the healing process if we have not allowed ourselves to be in touch with that before)?
Is this likely to help me uncover my hidden motivations or is it more likely to help me keep them buried in an emphasis on changing form, such as behavior and appearance, rather than underlying content, such as thought and purpose (although sometimes an important early step that indicates a willingness to change at a deeper level is to modify maladaptive and destructive behavior, such as addictions)?
One of the limitations of nearly every therapeutic approach in the world, regardless of whether it involves a therapist or work on your own, is that its purpose is to make the dream better, rather than to lead you along the path of awakening, which is the Course’s goal. And self-help is really about helping make a better ego self. Not that there is anything bad about that, but it won’t take you where the Course is leading you and it could end up leading you in the opposite direction. The only truly healing practice is forgiveness, and we may find clever ways to avoid it for as long as we can stand the pain. But in the end, we will find that releasing our judgments to the Help of the only real Therapist is the only way to find the Self we are really looking for.