ACIM Text Reading for October 11
Manual for Teachers
8. How Can Perception of Order of Difficulties Be Avoided?
The belief in order of difficulties is the basis for the world’s perception. It rests on differences; on uneven background and shifting foreground, on unequal heights and diverse sizes, on varying degrees of darkness and light, and thousands of contrasts in which each thing seen competes with every other in order to be recognized. A larger object overshadows a smaller one. A brighter thing draws the attention from another with less intensity of appeal. And a more threatening idea, or one conceived of as more desirable by the world’s standards, completely upsets the mental balance. What the body’s eyes behold is only conflict. Look not to them for peace and understanding.
Illusions are always illusions of differences. How could it be otherwise? By definition, an illusion is an attempt to make something real that is regarded as of major importance, but is recognized as being untrue. The mind therefore seeks to make it true out of its intensity of desire to have it for itself. Illusions are travesties of creation; attempts to bring truth to lies. Finding truth unacceptable, the mind revolts against truth and gives itself an illusion of victory. Finding health a burden, it retreats into feverish dreams. And in these dreams the mind is separate, different from other minds, with different interests of its own, and able to gratify its needs at the expense of others.
Where do all these differences come from? Certainly they seem to be in the world outside. Yet it is surely the mind that judges what the eyes behold. It is the mind that interprets the eyes’ messages and gives them “meaning.” And this meaning does not exist in the world outside at all. What is seen as “reality” is simply what the mind prefers. Its hierarchy of values is projected outward, and it sends the body’s eyes to find it. The body’s eyes will never see except through differences. Yet it is not the messages they bring on which perception rests. Only the mind evaluates their messages, and so only the mind is responsible for seeing. It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful.
It is in the sorting out and categorizing activities of the mind that errors in perception enter. And it is here correction must be made. The mind classifies what the body’s eyes bring to it according to its preconceived values, judging where each sense datum fits best. What basis could be faultier than this? Unrecognized by itself, it has itself asked to be given what will fit into these categories. And having done so, it concludes that the categories must be true. On this the judgment of all differences rests, because it is on this that judgments of the world depend. Can this confused and senseless “reasoning” be depended on for anything?
There can be no order of difficulty in healing merely because all sickness is illusion. Is it harder to dispel the belief of the insane in a larger hallucination as opposed to a smaller one? Will he agree more quickly to the unreality of a louder voice he hears than to that of a softer one? Will he dismiss more easily a whispered demand to kill than a shout? And do the number of pitchforks the devils he sees carrying affect their credibility in his perception? His mind has categorized them all as real, and so they are all real to him. When he realizes they are all illusions they will disappear. And so it is with healing. The properties of illusions which seem to make them different are really irrelevant, for their properties are as illusory as they are.
The body’s eyes will continue to see differences. But the mind that has let itself be healed will no longer acknowledge them. There will be those who seem to be “sicker” than others, and the body’s eyes will report their changed appearances as before. But the healed mind will put them all in one category; they are unreal. This is the gift of its Teacher; the understanding that only two categories are meaningful in sorting out the messages the mind receives from what appears to be the outside world. And of these two, but one is real. Just as reality is wholly real, apart from size and shape and time and place–for differences cannot exist within it–so too are illusions without distinctions. The one answer to sickness of any kind is healing. The one answer to all illusions is truth.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 11
I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt.
Loss is not loss when properly perceived. Pain is impossible. There is no grief with any cause at all. And suffering of any kind is nothing but a dream. This is the truth, at first to be but said and then repeated many times; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth. I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt. And I would go beyond these words today, and past all reservations, and arrive at full acceptance of the truth in them.
Father, what You have given cannot hurt, so grief and pain must be impossible. Let me not fail to trust in You today, accepting but the joyous as Your gifts; accepting but the joyous as the truth.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #239: I have a question regarding the March 2003 Lighthouse article. The beginning, about “regime change,” made sense to me, and had me laughing. But at the end I was frustrated — I didn’t know how to formulate how to act, or what actions to support. If the only sane response is forgiveness, does that mean we shouldn’t try to stop people who are hurting others? Can we stop them lovingly? What if we have to kill them to stop them — can that be loving?
A: The answer to your questions lies in understanding the teachings of A Course in Miracles on forgiveness, which is not the same as the ego’s version of forgiveness. Forgiveness, according to the ego, rests on seeing sin, and then forgiving it. It then esteems some “sinners” as deserving of forgiveness, and some as not. The important thing for the ego is making the error real by believing some harm has been done by one part of the Sonship to another, and that its effect is real. These beliefs are in full operation in a situation, such as the war in Iraq. It is a perfect opportunity to see the ego thought system in action — not on the battlefield of the Iraqi desert, but in our mind, which is where forgiveness is needed. It is also a perfect opportunity for forgiveness, as stated in the Lighthouse article. Forgiveness, as taught by the Course, begins by looking at the world, and events like the war in Iraq, paying attention to all the judgments and feelings that come up in us, and recognizing their source, which is the mind: “It [the world] is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition”(T.21.in.1:5). The real war, therefore, is in our mind. The judgments and feelings are projections of the guilt in our own mind which is caused by our choice to identify with the ego’s belief in the separation. The mind then becomes a battleground, and the war in the world merely reflects the conflict in the mind. Since this is an activity of the mind, it needs correction on the level of the mind, not on the level of form. As a student of the Course our part in “ending the war” lies in this forgiveness process.
The next step in the Course’s forgiveness process is the recognition that no true harm is done by the war: “There is nothing to forgive. No one can hurt the Son of God” (T.14.III.7:5,6). Any perceiveddamage is based on the belief that the separation and the body are real. Though in truth they are not, our belief makes them real in our awareness. As we watch the devastation of war on television we realize how much we do perceive damage and we do believe the body is real. All our reactions to the war come from this belief, along with so many other beliefs about how the world should work, who is responsible for the war, who are the victims, and on and on. The list of misperceptions is very long, particularly in an extreme example, such as war. It is this belief system that causes our upset, not the events of the war. And it is this belief system that brings about war in the world in the first place. That is why the real solution to war is forgiveness, not negotiation, or any specific action. However, while we turn within to see the turmoil in our own minds and seek help to undo our misperceptions, it is still possible to take action in the world. Just as we continue to take normal care of our bodies as we learn to undo our belief in them, so too we can do whatever we think may be helpful to resolve conflicts in the world. The decision is not whether or not to act, or what action to take, but with whom we make the decision: “And make no mistake, nowhere in A Course in Miracles does Jesus suggest that we not act in the world; only that we not act alone” (The Lighthouse, Vol. 14, No. 1, p. 5). Is the purpose of taking action to reinforce the ego’s belief in victims and victimizers, taking sides with those who are “good” against those who are “evil”, or are we willing to ask the Holy Spirit to help us see that everyone in the war is a brother calling for help, rather than a sinner, and that their truth remains inviolate no matter how insane their ego behavior is? Whatever form the action takes will then reflect the belief system of the teacher we have chosen: the ego or the Holy Spirit. Choosing to accept the Holy Spirit’s perception is the only loving response in any situation, including war. When these steps are taken it is possible to stop an aggressor from physically hurting someone else without attack. If the only way to do this is by killing another, and if a person has clearly chosen to identify with the Holy Spirit, not the ego, in principle the killing can also be done without attack, without judgment, and without guilt. There are probably very few people who would fall into this category. It may indeed be more loving to stop someone from killing another (although not necessarily), but that would only be clear if you are coming from the right mind, having chosen the Holy Spirit, and not from fear. In applying the principles of the Course to any situation in the world the only important thing to remember is the content of the mind, not the form. The mind is what we are being trained to be aware of, and it is the mind that is in need of healing.
A last consideration, but certainly not the least, is the Course teaching that there is no death: There is no death because what God created shares His life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are One” (W.167.1:5,6,7). It is when we perceive ourselves and others as separate that the Son of God is “murdered.” It follows that a person who claims to support peace and brotherhood, but is filled with judgment against political leaders responsible for war, inflicts a death penalty on the Son of God, while a soldier who fully identifies with the Holy Spirit’s perception and knows his oneness with all brothers, can perform his duty, which includes killing, with the Holy Spirit’s love that flows through him. This is possible only by joining with the Holy Spirit in the mind: “He brings forgiving dreams, in which the choice is not who is the murderer and who shall be the victim. In the dreams He brings there is no murder and there is no death” (T.27.VII.14:4,5).