ACIM Reading for November 1
Manual for Teachers
29. As for the Rest…
This manual is not intended to answer all questions that both teacher and pupil may raise. In fact, it covers only a few of the more obvious ones, in terms of a brief summary of some of the major concepts in the text and workbook. It is not a substitute for either, but merely a supplement. While it is called a manual for teachers, it must be remembered that only time divides teacher and pupil, so that the difference is temporary by definition. In some cases, it may be helpful for the pupil to read the manual first. Others might do better to begin with the workbook. Still others may need to start at the more abstract level of the text.
Which is for which? Who would profit more from prayers alone? Who needs but a smile, being as yet unready for more? No one should attempt to answer these questions alone. Surely no teacher of God has come this far without realizing that. The curriculum is highly individualized, and all aspects are under the Holy Spirit’s particular care and guidance. Ask and He will answer. The responsibility is His, and He alone is fit to assume it. To do so is His function. To refer the questions to Him is yours. Would you want to be responsible for decisions about which you understand so little? Be glad you have a Teacher Who cannot make a mistake. His answers are always right. Would you say that of yours?
There is another advantage,–and a very important one,–in referring decisions to the Holy Spirit with increasing frequency. Perhaps you have not thought of this aspect, but its centrality is obvious. To follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance is to let yourself be absolved of guilt. It is the essence of the Atonement. It is the core of the curriculum. The imagined usurping of functions not your own is the basis of fear. The whole world you see reflects the illusion that you have done so, making fear inevitable. To return the function to the One to Whom it belongs is thus the escape from fear. And it is this that lets the memory of love return to you. Do not, then, think that following the Holy Spirit’s guidance is necessary merely because of your own inadequacies. It is the way out of hell for you.
Here again is the paradox often referred to in the course. To say, “Of myself I can do nothing” is to gain all power. And yet it is but a seeming paradox. As God created you, you have all power. The image you made of yourself has none. The Holy Spirit knows the truth about you. The image you made does not. Yet, despite its obvious and complete ignorance, this image assumes it knows all things because you have given that belief to it. Such is your teaching, and the teaching of the world that was made to uphold it. But the Teacher Who knows the truth has not forgotten it. His decisions bring benefit to all, being wholly devoid of attack. And therefore incapable of arousing guilt.
Who assumes a power that he does not possess is deceiving himself. Yet to accept the power given him by God is but to acknowledge his Creator and accept His gifts. And His gifts have no limit. To ask the Holy Spirit to decide for you is simply to accept your true inheritance. Does this mean that you cannot say anything without consulting Him? No, indeed! That would hardly be practical, and it is the practical with which this course is most concerned. If you have made it a habit to ask for help when and where you can, you can be confident that wisdom will be given you when you need it. Prepare for this each morning, remember God when you can throughout the day, ask the Holy Spirit’s help when it is feasible to do so, and thank Him for His guidance at night. And your confidence will be well founded indeed.
Never forget that the Holy Spirit does not depend on your words. He understands the requests of your heart, and answers them. Does this mean that, while attack remains attractive to you, He will respond with evil? Hardly! For God has given Him the power to translate your prayers of the heart into His language. He understands that an attack is a call for help. And He responds with help accordingly. God would be cruel if He let your words replace His Own. A loving father does not let his child harm himself, or choose his own destruction. He may ask for injury, but his father will protect him still. And how much more than this does your Father love His Son?
Remember you are His completion and His Love. Remember your weakness is His strength. But do not read this hastily or wrongly. If His strength is in you, what you perceive as your weakness is but illusion. And He has given you the means to prove it so. Ask all things of His Teacher, and all things are given you. Not in the future but immediately; now. God does not wait, for waiting implies time and He is timeless. Forget your foolish images, your sense of frailty and your fear of harm, your dreams of danger and selected “wrongs.” God knows but His Son, and as he was created so he is. In confidence I place you in His Hands, and I give thanks for you that this is so.
- And now in all your doings be you blessed.
- God turns to you for help to save the world.
- Teacher of God, His thanks He offers you,
- And all the world stands silent in the grace
- You bring from Him. You are the Son He loves,
- And it is given you to be the means
- Through which His Voice is heard around the world,
- To close all things of time; to end the sight
- Of all things visible; and to undo
- All things that change. Through you is ushered in
- A world unseen, unheard, yet truly there.
- Holy are you, and in your light the world
- Reflects your holiness, for you are not
- Alone and friendless. I give thanks for you,
- And join your efforts on behalf of God,
- Knowing they are on my behalf as well,
- And for all those who walk to God with me.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 1
There is a peace that Christ bestows on us.
Who uses but Christ’s vision finds a peace so deep and quiet, undisturbable and wholly changeless, that the world contains no counterpart. Comparisons are still before this peace. And all the world departs in silence as this peace envelops it, and gently carries it to truth, no more to be the home of fear. For love has come, and healed the world by giving it Christ’s peace.
Father, the peace of Christ is given us, because it is Your Will that we be saved. Help us today but to accept Your gift, and judge it not. For it has come to us to save us from our judgment on ourselves.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #371: In my profession I have to deal with child-abuse. I understand that it is the ego that wants to see victims, pain and suffering. But does this mean that child-abuse did not happen, is that what A Course in Miracles is saying? Is this abuse not real? How does right- mindedness view child abuse and what would be right professional behavior according to the Course?
A: You are getting caught in a confusion that is common for many Course students — not distinguishing between the two levels on which the Course is written. It is true that, on a metaphysical level, the Course is saying that the world and everything that seems to happen within it, including child abuse, are illusory and in reality have never happened. But what makes the Course so practical is that much of it is written at a level that acknowledges our experience in the world but provides us with a different way of looking at that experience that helps us, over time, to disengage our minds from the illusion and to remember our reality, while not denying what we seem to be observing. (You may find Questions #3 and #253 helpful for further discussion of the issue of level confusion.)
And so in your professional role, it would not be helpful to anyone involved, including yourself, if you were to deny the abuse that is presented to you. In this world as we’ve set it up, bodies interact with other bodies, and sometimes direct physically and emotionally violent actions toward one another. And the actions can seem particularly outrageous and horrific when they are directed by an adult at a child. What the Course would ask of you is to be willing to recognize all the ways in which you may be tempted to take sides, to pass judgment or to feel pity, sadness, disgust, anger, or any other emotion that the situation may trigger in you. And then to recognize that, whatever you are feeling, you have made an interpretation and are wrong!
Now judgment is unavoidable when we look at a situation like child abuse from our ego perspective of separation and guilt. For we have made the world so that we can see sin and attack outside ourselves, and situations such as these are ideal screens on which to project our guilt (e.g., T.13.IX.3:1; T.18.I.6), since nearly everyone else will agree with our interpretation. But Jesus is asking us to question our conclusions, for he knows what we do not yet know, that all the violence and pain is happening only in the mind and not in the world, and that it has nothing to do with bodies (T.28.III.4:6,5:1; W.pI.135.9). And so, if you join with Jesus, over time you will come to recognize the pain that everyone involved in the abuse shares, and that everyone is making unconscious choices out of this pain — abuser, abused, silent accomplice, angry accuser. And if you are judging any of them, you are reacting from this same pain as well. Over time, with this growing realization, your judgments will diminish and you will feel compassion for everyone involved, regardless of their role.
And you will also begin to understand that the pain is really a call for love, and the love is always there, within the mind, accessible to all of us if we are willing to release our own interpretations and accept Jesus’. For it is only our interpretations and judgments that block the love and keep differences and separation from love real in our minds. In the end, as we come to recognize that the love is always there, we will also recognize that the pain and guilt are not real (W.pII.284.1), and the abuse that seems to mask their source in the mind is unreal as well. But that realization only comes at the end of the process. And it will not mean that you necessarily behave any differently with the families you are working with. You will continue to act in ways that will help determine responsibility and appropriate consequences within the system for the abuse, as well as protect the child from further abuse — but you will do it all without judgment. And you will have become a reminder for everyone involved that there is another way of looking at what has been happening that does not involve attack and blame.
The Course has nothing to say about behavior — professional or otherwise — for its concern is only with the contents of our minds. But rest assured, if you do the inner work of release as you become aware of the projections of guilt arising within your own mind, you will know how to relate to everyone in a way that can only reflect healing. And you will know that you are only ever an instrument of that healing, and never its Source.
Q #372: My father is a strong practicing Christian Scientist, and we often have discussions on the differences in theology between it and A Course in Miracles. One particular aspect of these differences is the world — the Course teaching that everything in the material universe is material and not created (or even known) by God, while in Christian Science, things such as trees, streams, and mountains are ideas of God, but not matter.
I believe what it boils down to is that in Christian Science they don’t believe we escape from the world because we never left perfection. It seems to me that in the Course we are trying to escape the thought system on which the world is based and don’t see nature as ideas of God but as distractions of the ego thought system.
Another seeming difference in the two is that Christian Science believes that as you withdraw your belief in matter or the illusion the world of form will get better — guaranteed! Because it is all about thought. But I believe the Course’s view is that form may or may not get better, even when you begin to see the unreality of it.
Can you clarify these differences for me? Also do you know of other differences in these two philosophies because at their core they sure seem the very same to me?
A: You are correct in the differences between A Course in Miracles and Christian Science that you point out. In themselves they are enough to establish that these two thought systems are fundamentally different. A Course in Miracles teaches not only that the world was not created by God, Who has no knowledge of it, but that it does not exist at all. We are not asked to escape the world or the ego thought system as such, but to learn to let go of our identity with that thought system through forgiveness (W.pI.23). You are right, the world will not get better when we no longer believe the thought of separation from God is real; it will disappear in our awareness. Since the Course teaches there is no hierarchy of illusions (T.26.VII.6), all form in the physical universe is equally unreal, no part of which is an idea of God, Who is pure spirit with and beyond form.
The Course’s teaching on forgiveness also distinguishes it from other spiritual paths. As you may know, it tells us: “Be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do” (T.17.III.1:5). We are asked to live the Course by applying the process of forgiveness to all our relationships. This involves looking at the hatred, anger and judgments of the ego thought system in operation in our lives, so they can be released and replaced by the Holy Spirit’s thought system. This is not central to the teaching of Christian Science. If you are a student of the Course, it may be helpful to remember that it is this application of its teachings that is important rather than the intellectual understanding of its metaphysical principles. Discussions with your father probably provide you with many opportunities for this. A Course in Miracles asks us to acknowledge all the judgments we may have during our interactions, recognize that they are projections of guilt at having chosen to identify with the thought of separation, and give them to the Holy Spirit so they can be reinterpreted. As a Christian Scientist, your father may have a very different practice.
Another significant distinction is the importance of the role of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the practice of the Course’s teaching. We are encouraged to ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help in choosing our right minds rather than our wrong minds, so our perception can be transformed.