ACIM Text Reading for March 21
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
VIII. Grandeur versus Grandiosity
Grandeur is of God, and only of Him. Therefore it is in you. Whenever you become aware of it, however dimly, you abandon the ego automatically, because in the presence of the grandeur of God the meaninglessness of the ego becomes perfectly apparent. When this occurs, even though it does not understand it, the ego believes that its “enemy” has struck, and attempts to offer gifts to induce you to return to its “protection.” Self-inflation is of the ego is its alternative to the grandeur of God. Which will you choose?
Grandiosity is always a cover for despair. It is without hope because it is not real. It is an attempt to counteract your littleness, based on the belief that the littleness is real. Without this belief grandiosity is meaningless, and you could not possibly want it. The essence of grandiosity is competitiveness, because it always involves attack. It is a delusional attempt to outdo, but not to undo. We said before that the ego vacillates between suspiciousness and viciousness. It remains suspicious as long as you despair of yourself. It shifts to viciousness when you decide not to tolerate self-abasement and seek relief. Then it offers you the illusion of attack as a “solution.”
The ego does not understand the difference between grandeur and grandiosity, because it sees no difference between miracle impulses and ego-alien beliefs of its own. I told you that the ego is aware of threat to its existence, but makes no distinctions between these two very different kinds of threat. Its profound sense of vulnerability renders it incapable of judgment except in terms of attack. When the ego experiences threat, its only decision is whether to attack now or to withdraw to attack later. If you accept its offer of grandiosity it will attack immediately. If you do not, it will wait.
The ego is immobilized in the presence of God’s grandeur, because His grandeur establishes your freedom. Even the faintest hint of your reality literally drives the ego from your mind, because you will give up all investment in it. Grandeur is totally without illusions, and because it is real it is compellingly convincing. Yet the conviction of reality will not remain with you unless you do not allow the ego to attack it. The ego will make every effort to recover and mobilize its energies against your release. It will tell you that you are insane, and argue that grandeur cannot be a real part of you because of the littleness in which it believes. Yet your grandeur is not delusional because you did not make it. You made grandiosity and are afraid of it because it is a form of attack, but your grandeur is of God, who created it out of His love.
From your grandeur you can only bless, because your grandeur is your abundance. By blessing you hold it in your mind, protecting it from illusions and keeping yourself in the Mind of God. Remember always that you cannot be anywhere except in the Mind of God. When you forget this, you will despair and you will attack.
The ego depends solely on your willingness to tolerate it. If you are willing to look upon your grandeur you cannot despair, and therefore you cannot want the ego. Your grandeur is God’s answer to the ego, because it is true. Littleness and grandeur cannot coexist, nor is it possible for them to alternate. Littleness and grandiosity can and must alternate, since both are untrue and are therefore on the same level. Being the level of shift, it is experienced as shifting and extremes are its essential characteristic.
Truth and littleness are denials of each other because grandeur is truth. Truth does not vacillate; it is always true. When grandeur slips away from you, you have replaced it with something you have made. Perhaps it is the belief in littleness; perhaps it is the belief in grandiosity. Yet it must be insane because it is not true. Your grandeur will never deceive you, but your illusions always will. Illusions are deceptions. You cannot triumph, but you are exalted. And in your exalted state you seek others like you and rejoice with them.
It is easy to distinguish grandeur from grandiosity, because love is returned and pride is not. Pride will not produce miracles, and will therefore deprive you of the true witnesses to your reality. Truth is not obscure nor hidden, but its obviousness to you lies in the joy you bring to its witnesses, who show it to you. They attest to your grandeur, but they cannot attest to pride because pride is not shared. God wants you to behold what He created because it is His joy.
Can your grandeur be arrogant when God Himself witnesses to it? And what can be real that has no witnesses? What good can come of it? And if no good can come of it the Holy Spirit cannot use it. What He cannot transform to the Will of God does not exist at all. Grandiosity is delusional, because it is used to replace your grandeur. Yet what God has created cannot be replaced. God is incomplete without you because His grandeur is total, and you cannot be missing from it.
You are altogether irreplaceable in the Mind of God. No one else can fill your part in it, and while you leave your part of it empty your eternal place merely waits for your return. God, through His Voice, reminds you of it, and God himself keeps your extensions safe within it. Yet you do not know them until you return to them. You cannot replace the Kingdom, and you cannot replace yourself. God, Who knows your value, would not have it so, and so it is not so. Your value is in God’s Mind, and therefore not in yours alone. To accept yourself as God created you cannot be arrogance, because it is the denial of arrogance. To accept your littleness is arrogant, because it means that you believe your evaluation of yourself is truer than God’s.
Yet if truth is indivisible, your evaluation of yourself must be God’s. You did not establish your value and it needs no defense. Nothing can attack it nor prevail over it. It does not vary. It merely is. Ask the Holy Spirit what it is and He will tell you, but do not be afraid of His answer, because it comes from God. It is an exalted answer because of its Source, but the Source is true and so is its answer. Listen and do not question what you hear, for God does not deceive. He would have you replace the ego’s belief in littleness with His Own exalted Answer to what you are, so that you can cease to question it and know it for what it is.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 21
Let me recognize my problems have been solved.
If you are willing to recognize your problems, you will recognize that you have no problems. Your one central problem has been answered, and you have no other. Therefore, you must be at peace. Salvation thus depends on recognizing this one problem, and understanding that it has been solved. One problem, one solution. Salvation is accomplished. Freedom from conflict has been given you. Accept that fact, and you are ready to take your rightful place in God’s plan for salvation.
Your only problem has been solved! Repeat this over and over to yourself today, with gratitude and conviction. You have recognized your only problem, opening the way for the Holy Spirit to give you God’s answer. You have laid deception aside, and seen the light of truth. You have accepted salvation for yourself by bringing the problem to the answer. And you can recognize the answer, because the problem has been identified.
You are entitled to peace today. A problem that has been resolved cannot trouble you. 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.
In our longer practice periods today, we will claim the peace that must be ours when the problem and the answer have been brought together. The problem must be gone, because God’s answer cannot fail. Having recognized one, you have recognized the other. The solution is inherent in the problem. You are answered, and have accepted the answer. You are saved.
Now let the peace that your acceptance brings be given you. Close your eyes, and receive your reward. Recognize that your problems have been solved. Recognize that you are out of conflict; free and at peace. Above all, remember that you have one problem, and that the problem has one solution. It is in this that the simplicity of salvation lies. It is because of this that it is guaranteed to work.
Assure yourself often today that your problems have been solved. Repeat the idea with deep conviction, as frequently as possible. And be particularly sure to apply the idea for today to any specific problem that may arise. Say quickly:
Let me recognize this problem has been solved.
Let us be determined not to collect grievances today. Let us be determined to be free of problems that do not exist. The means is simple honesty. Do not deceive yourself about what the problem is, and you must recognize it has been solved.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #118: My questions are prompted by my seeming experience of “retaliation” from my ego, which inevitably follows times when I have sincerely tried to look at my ego and asked for correction. The specific forms this takes can be severe enough to shut me down physically, as well as mentally. Should we expect this to occur?
I know the Course talks about the ego vacillating “between suspiciousness and viciousness” shifting to viciousness if I try to seek relief from it, offering me then “the illusion of attack as a ‘solution'” (T.9.VIII.2:7,9,10). So if my ego offers me the “illusion of attack,” then I am off the hook. I’ve not really chosen the attack and I’m not responsible for it — my ego did it to me. But I don’t really believe this at all. I think the decision making part of my mind is choosing attack to protect my ego identification — my special, separate identity — and that things are going to get a whole lot worse if I continue to go against it. At these times there is no way that I can look at my ego and simply smile at it. I just have to back off. I will be grateful for your answers and comments.
A: Yes, you are right — the ego has no power to attack you except for the power you give it. Jesus clarifies this early in the text: “Only your allegiance to it gives the ego any power over you. I have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing, acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly, and must realize how much of your thinking is ego-directed. We cannot safely let it go at that, however, or you will regard yourself as necessarily conflicted as long as you are here, or as long as you believe that you are here. The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself” (T.4.VI.1:2,3,4,5,6)
As the passage you cite indicates, self-attack is not uncommon when we seek relief from the ego. And that is a reflection of our fear of accepting the limitless love in which the self we believe we are has no meaning, as you suggest.
So your question really is, what do you do now, knowing that your fear is still so great. The part of ourselves that remains identified with the ego does not want us to take even a single step in the direction of forgiveness and healing if it can prevent it. And anything that increases rather than reduces our fear really serves the ego’s purpose. So Jesus counsels us that if our resistance is strong, we should not fight ourselves because we are just not ready (T.30.I.1:6,7). The most kind and loving thing we can do then is to be patient and gentle with ourselves — there is no urgency about the process of forgiveness. We may not yet be ready to bring the darkness of our ego to Jesus, but we can at least bring our fear to him, acknowledging that we need his help. And if Jesus is part of the problem, we can use the less threatening symbol of the Holy Spirit, or any other symbol of love to whom we relate that brings us comfort.
The important thing is to develop an awareness of the loving, nonjudgmental presence within your mind, with whom you can look at the darkness of your ego together. If you look by yourself, you will almost certainly frighten yourself. But if you look with love beside you, the seeming seriousness of what you are uncovering will gradually dissipate. And then you will be able to smile at it.
Q #929: A Course in Miracles states the ego “sees no difference between miracle impulses and ego-alien beliefs of its own… [and] …makes no distinctions between these two very different kinds of threat” (T.9.VIII.3:1,2). I know this is comparing grandeur and grandiosity and the fact that the ego is aware of something else, greater than it “out-there” (or actually, in-there). But we are confused about what may indeed be the ego’s own alien (not of or outside of itself?) beliefs. Is it accurate to say that the ego is constantly aware of this “other” presence? We know that it is not aware of the Holy Spirit (Voice for God) per se so would it be us as the decision maker? Exactly what are the two very different threats?
A: Miracle impulses of course emanate from the right-mind, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and their purpose is to undo our belief in the ego. It is apparent why the ego would perceive such impulses as a threat, even though it cannot really understand them. Ego-alien beliefs, on the other hand, have their origins in the ego thought system, but represent the split off thoughts of the ego that it is attempting to deny responsibility for, including thoughts of attack and guilt and weakness and limitation, which, while inventions of the ego, need to be seen as outside itself to work as defenses. And so thoughts of revenge and destruction attributed to forces outside itself ironically trigger as much a sense of threat to the ego, even though paradoxically they are part of the ego’s scheme for self-preservation. And it is these threats, as much as the fear of the unknown represented by miracle impulses, which incite the ego to self-inflating delusions of grandiosity.
There is a very simple explanation for the single, common ego perception and response to both sources of threat. The ego is very simply a thought of attack, and so its only reaction to anything perceived to be outside itself — real or imaginary — must be to attack, either now or later (T.9.VIII.3:4,5,6) . The attack may be either direct (special hate) or indirect (special love), but attack is all that the ego is capable of. With special love, or where the balance of power seems overwhelmingly against it, the attack may be disguised, but the content is nevertheless nothing other than attack. And so the ego does not and cannot distinguish between the content of any thought that it attacks. Much as the Holy Spirit’s judgment, seeing everything as either an extension of love or a call for love, responds only with love (T.12.I.3) , so the ego, regardless of the nature of the content it encounters, sees everything only as a threat to its continued existence and responds only with hate and attack.
So, to the ego, the enemy is both any right-minded thought that reflects the truth of who we are in our unlimitedness — the grandeur of our true Self — as well as any ego-based thought, including the body, which challenges or undermines the ego’s imaginary “autonomy” and “supremacy.” Ironically, as already noted, the other ego thoughts it attacks are merely split off parts of itself, but the ego is capable of perceiving only threat from anything seen as outside itself (T.4.V.2,3) .
A third source of perceived threat, as you have observed, is the power of our mind to choose between those right-minded and wrong-minded thoughts for, as much as the ego may hate us, it is dependent on the power of our mind to choose it for its continued existence (T.6.IV.4:1,2; T.7.VI.3) .
And so, we can say unequivocally that “the ego is quite literally a fearful thought” (T.5.V.3:7) . So long as we remain identified with the ego, we can only vacillate between various forms of fear and attack, or suspiciousness and viciousness (T.9.VII.3:4,5,6,7,8,9,10) . If we could look very honestly at all of our reactions to everything around us when we are in our wrong-mind, we would recognize that this is really the only content we are capable of experiencing as an ego.
The insanity of the ego’s defenses is most clearly seen in the self-inflation of its own grandiosity, which is always an attack on a made-up other as a defense against the ego’s intrinsic sense of littleness and vulnerability. The other must be held responsible for the feelings of inadequacy, rather than seeing them simply as a result of our choice for the ego itself in the first place.