ACIM Text Reading for April 8
Chapter 12 ~ The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum
I. The Judgment of the Holy Spirit
You have been told not to make error real, and the way to do this is very simple. If you want to believe in error, you would have to make it real because it is not true. But truth is real in its own right, and to believe in truth you do not have to do anything. Understand that you do not respond to anything directly, but to your interpretation of it. Your interpretation thus becomes the justification for the response. That is why analyzing the motives of others is hazardous to you. If you decide that someone is really trying to attack you or desert you or enslave you, you will respond as if he had actually done so, having made his error real to you. To interpret error is to give it power, and having done this you will overlook truth.
The analysis of ego-motivation is very complicated, very obscuring, and never without you own ego-involvement. The whole process represents a clear-cut attempt to demonstrate your own ability to understand what you perceive. This is shown by the fact that you react to your interpretations as if they were correct. You may then control your reactions behaviorally, but not emotionally. This would obviously be a split or an attack on the integrity of your mind, pitting one level within it against another.
There is but one interpretation of motivation that makes any sense. And because it is the Holy Spirit’s judgment it requires no effort at all on your part. Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes. Can anyone be justified in responding with anger to a brother’s plea for help? No response can be appropriate except the willingness to give it to him, for this and only this is what he is asking for. Offer him anything else, and you are assuming the right to attack his reality by interpreting it as you see fit. Perhaps the danger of this to your own mind is not yet fully apparent. If you believe that an appeal for help is something else you will react to something else. Your response will therefore be inappropriate to reality as it is, but not to your perception of it.
There is nothing to prevent you from recognizing all calls for help as exactly what they are except your own imagined need to attack. It is only this that makes you willing to engage in endless “battles” with reality, in which you deny the reality of the need for healing by making it unreal. You would not do this except for your unwillingness to accept reality as it is, and which you therefore withhold from yourself.
It is surely good advice to tell you not to judge what you do not understand. No one with a personal investment is a reliable witness, for truth to him has become what he wants it to be. If you are unwilling to perceive an appeal for help as what it is, it is because you are unwilling to give help and to receive it. To fail to recognize a call for help is to refuse help. Would you maintain that you do not need it? Yet this is what you are maintaining when you refuse to recognize a brother’s appeal, for only by answering his appeal can you be helped. Deny him your help and you will not recognize God’s Answer to you. The Holy Spirit does not need your help in interpreting motivation, but you do need His.
Only appreciation is an appropriate response to your brother. Gratitude is due to him for both his loving thoughts and his appeals for help, for both are capable of bringing love into your awareness if you perceive them truly. And all your sense of strain comes from your attempts not to do just this. How simple, then, is God’s plan for salvation. There is but one response to reality, for reality evokes no conflict at all. There is but one Teacher of reality, Who understands what it is. He does not change His Mind about reality because reality does not change. Although your interpretations of reality are meaningless in your divided state, His remain consistently true. He gives them to you because they are for you. Do not attempt to “help” a brother in your way, for you cannot help yourself. But hear his call for the Help of God, and you will recognize your own need for the Father.
Your interpretations of your brother’s needs are your interpretations of yours. By giving help you are asking for it, and if you perceive but one need in yourself you will be healed. For you will recognize God’s Answer as you want It to be, and if you want It in truth, It will be truly yours. Every appeal you answer in the Name of Christ brings remembrance of your Father closer to your awareness. For the sake of your need, then, hear every call for help as what it is, so God can answer you.
By applying the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the reactions of others more and more consistently, you will gain an increasing awareness that His criteria are equally applicable to you. For to recognize fear is not enough to escape from it, although the recognition is necessary to demonstrate the need for escape. The Holy Spirit must still translate fear into truth. If you were left with the fear, once you had recognized it, you would have taken a step away from reality, not towards it. Yet we have repeatedly emphasized the need to recognize fear and face it without disguise as a crucial step in the undoing of the ego. Consider how well the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the motives of others will serve you then. Having taught you to accept everything else as an appeal for help, He has taught you that fear itself is an appeal for help. This is what recognizing fear really means. If you do not protect it, He will reinterpret it. That is the ultimate value in learning to perceive attack as a call for love. We have already learned that fear and attack are inevitably associated. If only attack produces fear, and if you see attack as the call for help that it is, the unreality of fear must dawn on you. For fear is a call for love, in unconscious recognition of what has been denied.
Fear is a symptom of your own deep sense of loss. If when you perceive it in others you learn to supply the loss, the basic cause of fear is removed. Thereby you teach yourself that fear does not exist in you. The means of removing it is in yourself, and you have demonstrated this by giving it. Fear and love are the only emotions of which you are capable. One is false, for it was made out of denial; and denial depends on the belief in what is denied for its own existence. By interpreting fear correctly as a positive affirmation of the underlying belief it masks, you are undermining its perceived usefulness by rendering it useless. Defenses that do not work at all are automatically discarded. If you raise what fear conceals to clear-cut unequivocal predominance, fear becomes meaningless. You have denied its power to conceal love, which was its only purpose. The veil that you have drawn across the face of love has disappeared.
If you would look upon love, which is the world’s reality, how could you do better than to recognize, in every defense against it, the underlying appeal for it? And how could you better learn of its reality than by answering the appeal for it by giving it? The Holy Spirit’s interpretation of fear does dispel it, for the awareness of truth cannot be denied. Thus does the Holy Spirit replace fear with love and translates error into truth. And thus will you learn of Him how to replace your dream of separation with the fact of unity. For the separation is only the denial of union, and correctly interpreted, attests to your eternal knowledge that union is true.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 8
I will accept my part in God’s plan for salvation.
Today is a day of special dedication. We take a stand on but one side today. We side with truth and let illusions go. We will not vacillate between the two, but take a firm position with the One. We dedicate ourselves to truth today, and to salvation as God planned it be. We will not argue it is something else. We will not seek for it where it is not. In gladness we accept it as it is, and take the part assigned to us by God.
How happy to be certain! All our doubts we lay aside today, and take our stand with certainty of purpose, and with thanks that doubt is gone and surety has come. We have a mighty purpose to fulfill, and have been given everything we need with which to reach the goal. Not one mistake stands in our way. For we have been absolved from errors. All our sins are washed away by realizing they were but mistakes.
The guiltless have no fear, for they are safe and recognize their safety. They do not appeal to magic, nor invent escapes from fancied threats without reality. They rest in quiet certainty that they will do what it is given them to do. They do not doubt their own ability because they know their function will be filled completely in the perfect time and place. They took the stand which we will take today, that we may share their certainty and thus increase it by accepting it ourselves.
They will be with us; all who took the stand we take today will gladly offer us all that they learned and every gain they made. Those still uncertain, too, will join with us, and, borrowing our certainty, will make it stronger still. While those as yet unborn will hear the call we heard, and answer it when they have come to make their choice again. We do not choose but for ourselves today.
Is it not worth five minutes of your time each hour to be able to accept the happiness that God has given you? Is it not worth five minutes hourly to recognize your special function here? Is not five minutes but a small request to make in terms of gaining a reward so great it has no measure? You have made a thousand losing bargains at the least.
Here is an offer guaranteeing you your full release from pain of every kind, and joy the world does not contain. You can exchange a little of your time for peace of mind and certainty of purpose, with the promise of complete success. And since time has no meaning, you are being asked for nothing in return for everything. Here is a bargain that you cannot lose. And what you gain is limitless indeed!
Each hour today give Him your tiny gift of but five minutes. He will give the words you use in practicing today’s idea the deep conviction and the certainty you lack. His words will join with yours, and make each repetition of today’s idea a total dedication, made in faith as perfect and as sure as His in you. His confidence in you will bring the light to all the words you say, and you will go beyond their sound to what they really mean. Today you practice with Him, as you say:
I will accept my part in God’s plan for salvation.
In each five minutes that you spend with Him, He will accept your words and give them back to you all bright with faith and confidence so strong and steady they will light the world with hope and gladness. Do not lose one chance to be the glad receiver of His gifts, that you may give them to the world today.
Give Him the words, and He will do the rest. He will enable you to understand your special function. He will open up the way to happiness, and peace and trust will be His gifts; His answer to your words. He will respond with all His faith and joy and certainty that what you say is true. And you will have conviction then of Him Who knows the function that you have on earth as well as Heaven. He will be with you each practice period you share with Him, exchanging every instant of the time you offer Him for timelessness and peace.
Throughout the hour, let your time be spent in happy preparation for the next five minutes you will spend again with Him. Repeat today’s idea while you wait for the glad time to come to you again. Repeat it often, and do not forget each time you do so, you have let your mind be readied for the happy time to come.
And when the hour goes and He is there once more to spend a little time with you, be thankful and lay down all earthly tasks, all little thoughts and limited ideas, and spend a happy time again with Him. Tell Him once more that you accept the part that He would have you take and help you fill, and He will make you sure you want this choice, which He has made with you and you with Him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #279: I know that, as A Course in Miracles says, all illness is a defense against truth. Are you aware of any case of someone who, after many years of continuous study and practice of the Course, started to feel an abstract fear of this apparent reality, like losing his mind — agoraphobic-like symptoms?
A: It is not surprising that fear may appear to become more intense as we work with the Course over time. We are after all in the process of removing all the many defenses we have constructed to minimize fear in our awareness and to disguise it as other seemingly more manageable feelings, such as anger or excitement.
Jesus is well aware that our fear will seem to increase over time as we study and apply his Course:“You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death” (T.3.VII.5:9,10,11). And later in the text: “As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror” (T.18.III.2:1).
The form that our increased fear may take will in most cases keep our focus on the external world and on threat to the body’s life and well-being, since that is the identity as egos we are trying to maintain. Agoraphobia is certainly a specific form in which the fear could be expressed, as the experience of oneness that the Course is leading us towards is one of no limits or boundaries — the ultimate spaciousness, if you will.
No matter what form the fear takes, the answer is always the same. All fear ultimately comes from the belief that we have attacked and destroyed love and that we will be attacked and destroyed in return. If we can quiet our minds just enough to ask for help, joining with the presence of love that has remained always there despite our beliefs, we will know that love cannot be destroyed, and so neither the guilt of attack nor the punishment we have believed it calls for are true. In the words that conclude the introduction to the text, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God” (T.in.2:2,3,4).
You do not say whether this is simply a theoretical question you are asking or whether you are describing your own or someone else’s actual experience. If the latter is the case, should the symptoms persist and continue to be unsettling and problematic, it is always a wise course of action to see a professional therapist for help in alleviating the symptoms.
Q #280: Is there a positive form of denial? Would denying the countless, tiny, fearful, negative thoughts that bombard me throughout the day be one way of applying, in practical terms, what Jesus calls, “Denial of Error”?
A: It depends on what you mean by denying. If you mean that you are aware that they are there and that you (as the decision maker) are responsible for them, but then you deny their power to take away your peace or change your reality as God’s Son, then you are using denial in a helpful, positive way. Then you would be denying the error, or denying the denial of truth (T.12.II.1:5). The mistake we all made was to take the “tiny, mad idea” of separation seriously, instead of smiling at the silliness and insanity of believing that we could exist as separate individuals apart from God (T.27.VIII.6). We repeat this mistake every time we judge our ego thoughts to be so awful and so bothersome that we need to repress them or escape from them. We correct that mistake every time we look squarely at our ego thoughts, and remember that the only power they have is the power we give to them by our belief that they define us and that they can truly affect us. So that we don’t skip steps, then, we first must deny their seeming power. And we can do that most effectively by looking at them with the love of Jesus next to us. As that love becomes more and more real to us, our ego thoughts will become less and less real to us. And then one day we will simply regard them as meaningless, as we will have finally accepted the love of Jesus as the only reality in our minds.