ACIM Text Reading for March 20
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
VII. The Two Evaluations
God’s Will is your salvation. Would He not have given you the means to find it? If He wills you to have it, He must have made it possible and easy to obtain it. Your brothers are everywhere. You do not have to seek far for salvation. Every minute and every second gives you a chance to save yourself. Do not lose these chances, not because they will not return, but because delay of joy is needless. God wills you perfect happiness now. Is it possible that this is not also your will? And is it possible that this is not also the will of your brothers?
Consider, then, that in this joint will you are all united, and in this only. There may be disagreement on anything else, but not on this. This, then, is where peace abides. And you abide in peace when you so decide. Yet you cannot abide in peace unless you accept the Atonement, because the Atonement is the way to peace. The reason is very simple, and so obvious that it is often overlooked. The ego is afraid of the obvious, since obviousness is the essential characteristic of reality. Yet you cannot overlook it unless you are not looking.
It is perfectly obvious that if the Holy Spirit looks with love on all He perceives, He looks with love on you. His evaluation of you is based on His knowledge of what you are, and so He evaluates you truly. And this evaluation must be in your mind, because He is. The ego is also in your mind, because you have accepted it there. Its evaluation of you, however, is the exact opposite of the Holy Spirit’s, because the ego does not love you. It is unaware of what you are, and wholly mistrustful of everything it perceives because its perceptions are so shifting. The ego is therefore capable of suspiciousness at best and viciousness at worst. That is its range. It cannot exceed it because of its uncertainty. And it can never go beyond it because it can never be certain.
You, then, have two conflicting evaluations of yourself in your mind, and they cannot both be true. You do not yet realize how completely different these evaluations are, because you do not understand how lofty the Holy Spirit’s perception of you really is. He is not deceived by anything you do, because He never forgets what you are. The ego is deceived by everything you do, especially when you respond to the Holy Spirit, because at such times its confusion increases. The ego is, therefore, particularly likely to attack you when you react lovingly, because it has evaluated you as unloving and you are going against its judgment. The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased. Yet it is surely pointless to attack in return. What can this mean except that you are agreeing with the ego’s evaluation of what you are?
If you choose to see yourself as unloving you will not be happy. You are condemning yourself and must therefore regard yourself as inadequate. Would you look to the ego to help you escape from a sense of inadequacy it has produced, and must maintain for its existence? Can you escape from its evaluation of you by using its methods for keeping this picture intact?
You cannot evaluate an insane belief system from within it. Its range precludes this. You can only go beyond it, look back from a point where sanity exists and see the contrast. Only by this contrast can insanity be judged as insane. With the grandeur of God in you, you have chosen to be little and to lament your littleness. Within the system that dictated this choice the lament is inevitable. Your littleness is taken for granted there and you do not ask, “Who granted it?” The question is meaningless within the ego’s thought system, because it would open the whole thought system to question.
I have said that the ego does not know what a real question is. Lack of knowledge of any kind is always associated with unwillingness to know, and this produces a total lack of knowledge simply because knowledge is total. Not to question your littleness therefore is to deny all knowledge, and keep the ego’s whole thought system intact. You cannot retain part of a thought system, because it can be questioned only at its foundation. And this must be questioned from beyond it, because within it its foundation does stand. The Holy Spirit judges against the reality of the ego’s thought system merely because He knows its foundation is not true. Therefore, nothing that arises from it means anything. He judges every belief you hold in terms of where it comes from. If it comes from God, he knows it to be true. If it does not, He knows that it is meaningless.
Whenever you question your value, say:
- “God Himself is incomplete without me.”
Remember this when the ego speaks, and you will not hear it. The truth about you is so lofty that nothing unworthy of God is worthy of you. Choose, then, what you want in these terms, and accept nothing that you would not offer to God as wholly fitting for Him. You do not want anything else. Return your part of Him, and He will give you all of Himself in exchange for the return of what belongs to Him and renders Him complete.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 20
Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.
A problem cannot be solved if you do not know what it is. Even if it is really solved already you will still have the problem, because you will not recognize that it has been solved. This is the situation of the world. The problem of separation, which is really the only problem, has already been solved. Yet the solution is not recognized because the problem is not recognized.
Everyone in this world seems to have his own special problems. Yet they are all the same, and must be recognized as one if the one solution that solves them all is to be accepted. Who can see that a problem has been solved if he thinks the problem is something else? Even if he is given the answer, he cannot see its relevance.
That is the position in which you find yourself now. You have the answer, but you are still uncertain about what the problem is. A long series of different problems seems to confront you, and as one is settled the next one and the next arise. There seems to be no end to them. There is no time in which you feel completely free of problems and at peace.
The temptation to regard problems as many is the temptation to keep the problem of separation unsolved. The world seems to present you with a vast number of problems, each requiring a different answer. This perception places you in a position in which your problem solving must be inadequate, and failure is inevitable.
No one could solve all the problems the world appears to hold. They seem to be on so many levels, in such varying forms and with such varied content, that they confront you with an impossible situation. Dismay and depression are inevitable as you regard them. Some spring up unexpectedly, just as you think you have resolved the previous ones. Others remain unsolved under a cloud of denial, and rise to haunt you from time to time, only to be hidden again but still unsolved.
All this complexity is but a desperate attempt not to recognize the problem, and therefore not to let it be resolved. If you could recognize that your only problem is separation, no matter what form it takes, you could accept the answer because you would see its relevance. Perceiving the underlying constancy in all the problems that seem to confront you, you would understand that you have the means to solve them all. And you would use the means, because you recognize the problem.
In our longer practice periods today we will ask what the problem is, and what is the answer to it. We will not assume that we already know. We will try to free our minds of all the many different kinds of problems we think we have. We will try to realize that we have only one problem, which we have failed to recognize. We will ask what it is, and wait for the answer. We will be told. Then we will ask for the solution to it. And we will be told.
The exercises for today will be successful to the extent to which you do not insist on defining the problem. Perhaps you will not succeed in letting all your preconceived notions go, but that is not necessary. All that is necessary is to entertain some doubt about the reality of your version of what your problems are. You are trying to recognize that you have been given the answer by recognizing the problem, so that the problem and the answer can be brought together and you can be at peace.
The shorter practice periods for today will not be set by time, but by need. You will see many problems today, each one calling for an answer. Our efforts will be directed toward recognizing that there is only one problem and one answer. In this recognition are all problems resolved. In this recognition there is peace.
Be not deceived by the form of problems today. Whenever any difficulty seems to rise, tell yourself quickly:
Let me recognize this problem so it can be solved.
Then try to suspend all judgment about what the problem is. If possible, close your eyes for a moment and ask what it is. You will be heard and you will be answered.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #325: On page 172 of the text of A Course in Miracles (T.9.V.6:3) Jesus states: “Can you find light by analyzing the darkness…” My question is: If we are to look at our egos as a process, isn’t that the same thing as finding light by analyzing darkness?
A: The context of that statement is the unhealed healer who sees the darkness as real and not as a defense against the light, an expression of the only “sin” in the Course: making the error real. As Jesus tells us in the “Song of Prayer”: “Do not see error. Do not make it real” (S.2.I.3:3,4). In the section in the text to which you refer, Jesus is pointing out the limitations and mistakes of therapists and theologians who attempt to heal others without first having seen their own mistakes and brought them to the healing presence in their right minds. They therefore know nothing of that true corrective process, and as a result they wind up having their egos direct them as they attempt to heal others. If you know that the ego’s darkness (the wrong mind) is simply a defense against the Holy Spirit’s light (the right mind) and that we can choose between these states, then analyzing the darkness can be helpful in identifying the choices we make. We can then reconsider our decisions. But if we are unaware of the light and the decision-making capacity of our minds, then analyzing the darkness would be fruitless, ultimately. There may be some relief from the pain, but there would be no true healing. In that sense, you cannot find light by analyzing the darkness.
A: We direct you to Questions #26 and #104, which address this topic. The essence of the experience is recognizing and accepting the love of Jesus as the only reality in your mind. This comes about through choosing against the ego’s way of perceiving, which always emphasizes differences and separation, and instead seeing your interests and needs as the same as everyone else’s. It is a choice made in the mind, and of course can occur at any time. In the manual for teachers, Jesus speaks about different levels of relationships, the first level being “… what seems to be very casual encounters; a ‘chance’ meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult ‘by chance,’ two students ‘happening’ to walk home together…. Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another, perhaps the adult will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment” (M.3.2:2,5,6). The holy instant is that moment. There are many other expressions of it as well. It may occur at any time during one’s spiritual process, and one need not be a student of the Course in order to have this experience. Many, many students have done so.
Finally, even though there are 365 lessons and the Course is presented as a one-year program, it is important to take note of what Jesus tells us in the very first sentence after the last lesson: “This course is a beginning, not an end” (M.ep.1:1). The training is completed when the holy instant becomes our only experience. We no longer see any value in choosing the ego rather than the love of Jesus in our minds. We go back and forth that way until we have let go entirely of all belief in the reality of separation, and sin, guilt, and fear.