ACIM Reading for November 27
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice
2. The Process of Psychotherapy- Introduction1. Psychotherapy is a process that changes the view of the self. At best this “new” self is a more beneficent self-concept, but psychotherapy can hardly be expected to establish reality. That is not its function. If it can make way for reality, it has achieved its ultimate success. Its whole function, in the end, is to help the patient deal with one fundamental error; the belief that anger brings him something he really wants, and that by justifying attack he is protecting himself. To whatever extent he comes to realize that this is an error, to that extent is he truly saved.
2. Patients do not enter the therapeutic relationship with this goal in mind. On the contrary, such concepts mean little to them, or they would not need help. Their aim is to be able to retain their self-concept exactly as it is, but without the suffering that it entails. Their whole equilibrium rests on the insane belief that this is possible. And because to the sane mind it is so clearly impossible, what they seek is magic. In illusions the impossible is easily accomplished, but only at the cost of making illusions true. The patient has already paid this price. Now he wants a “better” illusion.
3. At the beginning, then, the patient’s goal and the therapist’s are at variance. The therapist as well as the patient may cherish false self-concepts, but their respective perceptions of “improvement” still must differ. The patient hopes to learn how to get the changes he wants without changing his self-concept to any significant extent. He hopes, in fact, to stabilize it sufficiently to include within it the magical powers he seeks in psychotherapy. He wants to make the vulnerable invulnerable and the finite limitless. The self he sees is his god, and he seeks only to serve it better.
4. Regardless of how sincere the therapist himself may be, he must want to change the patient’s self-concept in some way that he believes is real. The task of therapy is one of reconciling these differences. Hopefully, both will learn to give up their original goals, for it is only in relationships that salvation can be found. At the beginning, it is inevitable that patients and therapists alike accept unrealistic goals not completely free of magical overtones. They are finally given up in the minds of both.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 27
Section 12. What is the Ego?
The ego is idolatry; the sign of limited and separated self, born in a body, doomed to suffer and to end its life in death. It is the “will” that sees the Will of God as enemy, and takes a form in which it is denied. The ego is the “proof” that strength is weak and love is fearful, life is really death, and what opposes God alone is true.
The ego is insane. In fear it stands beyond the Everywhere, apart from All, in separation from the Infinite. In its insanity it thinks it has become a victor over God Himself. And in its terrible autonomy it “sees” the Will of God has been destroyed. It dreams of punishment, and trembles at the figures in its dreams; its enemies, who seek to murder it before it can ensure its safety by attacking them.
The Son of God is egoless. What can he know of madness and the death of God, when he abides in Him? What can he know of sorrow and of suffering, when he lives in eternal joy? What can he know of fear and punishment, of sin and guilt, of hatred and attack, when all there is surrounding him is everlasting peace, forever conflict-free and undisturbed, in deepest silence and tranquility?
To know reality is not to see the ego and its thoughts, its works, its acts, its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes, its plans for its salvation, and the cost belief in it entails. In suffering, the price for faith in it is so immense that crucifixion of the Son of God is offered daily at its darkened shrine, and blood must flow before the altar where its sickly followers prepare to die.
Yet will one lily of forgiveness change the darkness into light; the altar to illusions to the shrine of Life Itself. And peace will be restored forever to the holy minds which God created as His Son, His dwelling place, His joy, His love, completely His, completely one with Him.
There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.
How foolish, Father, to believe Your Son could cause himself to suffer! Could he make a plan for his damnation, and be left without a certain way to his release? You love me, Father. You could never leave me desolate, to die within a world of pain and cruelty. How could I think that Love has left Itself? There is no will except the Will of Love. Fear is a dream, and has no will that can conflict with Yours. Conflict is sleep, and peace awakening. Death is illusion; life, eternal truth. There is no opposition to Your Will. There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.
Forgiveness shows us that God’s Will is One, and that we share it. Let us look upon the holy sights forgiveness shows today, that we may find the peace of God. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: This thought comes from the famous statement in Matthew’s gospel that the last shall be first and the first last. This is the foundation of the ego’s thought system and its principle of one or the other — God is second because the ego is first, which means God is no longer God, and so has been destroyed. A Course in Miracleshelps us recognize and correct our mistake of believing we have separated from God and thus are in “first place” because we triumphed over Him. Jesus tells us in this lesson, as well as elsewhere, that we believe our autonomy is our salvation, but it is not really what we thought it would be: “Yet all we find is sickness, suffering and loss and death” (W.pII.328.1:3) , which is not at all what God wills for us. We choose the second place by realizing our mistake, letting go of the ego, and choosing Jesus as our teacher. Then we realize that there is only the unity of the Father and Son — no one and two. There is only One. When we accept God as our Cause instead of the ego, the memory of our oneness with Him returns to our mind, and our will rejoins His.
Q #488: From what you have said in previous answers, I understand that the world of form may or may not change for the better when you begin to give up belief in the illusion and choose the Holy Spirit as your teacher. But in Question #273 you state “Since hell is defined as the absence of God, the world becomes hell in our experience; not a symbolic expression of it. A Course in Miracles is very clear that God cannot be found in this world of form. However, when an individual chooses to identify with the part of the mind that holds the memory of God, the world becomes a reflection of that choice, and is no longer perceived as hell: ‘The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects’” (W.pII.249.1:5,6). So, are you saying that when you choose the Holy Spirit as your teacher the “world of form” will be this place of joy, abundance and so on? Or are you referring to the world as the “real” world that has nothing to do with form? How do I put into practice the idea of seeing everything outside of me as a reflection of God?
A: The answer to your question lies in understanding one of the most important principles of the Course’s teaching: “There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release. Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly. Ideas leave not their source” (W.pI.132.5:1,2,3).
“What you wish” is either the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s. Thinking with the ego makes our seeming existence in the world hell in our perception, because we have chosen against God. Thinking with the Holy Spirit makes it like Heaven in our perception, as stated in the passage you quote. These are the “ideas” that do not leave their source in the mind. The world of form is perceived and experiencedaccording to one of these two thought systems. When we change our mind from the ego’s thought of separation to the Holy Spirit’s thought that the separation is not real, our perception changes. This results in a change in our experience of the world of form, but not necessarily a change in the form itself. What was perceived as a place of conflict, hatred, and pain, becomes a place of beauty, joy, and peace, in our perception. For example; where others were judged as vicious sinners, they are now seen without judgment as mistaken brothers calling for love. This also explains why two people may be in the same situation in form, yet experience or perceive it in very different ways. From the ego’s perspective, adverse circumstances are always perceived as unjust victimization (hell). The Holy Spirit’s perception, on the other hand, tells us that no matter how apparently catastrophic our situation may be, it cannot take away our peace (“like to Heaven”). The important difference emphasized in Question #273 is that hell does not actually exist; Heaven does.
The change in perception takes place through the process of forgiveness, whereby our judgments are recognized and released to the Holy Spirit to be transformed. Only this is what we need to practice, and only this will change our experience of the world of form. The Holy Spirit’s perception replaces ours, once we have done our part. We are not the ones who generate a new perception. Because the Holy Spirit is the symbol for the part of our minds that holds the memory of God’s Love, when we choose His thought system it is this Love that is reflected in the love and beauty that is perceived in others and the world. It is perceived equally in everyone without exception, not just in those whom we love and see as “innocent” by the ego’s standards. And yes, seeing only with the eyes of the Holy Spirit’s perception is the real world’s vision: “Can you imagine how beautiful those you forgive will look to you?… you will see the Son of God. You will behold the beauty the Holy Spirit loves to look upon, and which He thanks the Father for. He was created to see this for you, until you learned to see it for yourself” (T.17.II.1:1,6,7,8).