ACIM Reading for November 28
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice
2.- I. The Limits on Psychotherapy1. Yet the ideal outcome is rarely achieved. Therapy begins with the realization that healing is of the mind, and in psychotherapy those have come together who already believe this.
It may be they will not get much further, for no one learns beyond his own readiness. Yet levels of readiness change, and when therapist or patient has reached the next one, there will be a relationship held out to them that meets the changing need. Perhaps they will come together again and advance in the same relationship, making it holier. Or perhaps each of them will enter into another commitment. Be assured of this; each will progress. Retrogression is temporary.
The overall direction is one of progress toward the truth.
2. Psychotherapy itself cannot be creative. This is one of the errors which the ego fosters; that it is capable of true change, and therefore of true creativity. When we speak of “the saving illusion” or “the final dream,” this is not what we mean, but here is the ego’s last defense.
“Resistance” is its way of looking at things; its interpretation of progress and growth. These interpretations will be wrong of necessity, because they are delusional. The changes the ego seeks to make are not really changes. They are but deeper shadows, or perhaps different cloud patterns. Yet what is made of nothingness cannot be called new or different. Illusions are illusions; truth is truth.
3. Resistance as defined here can be characteristic of a therapist as well as of a patient.
Either way, it sets a limit on psychotherapy because it restricts its aims. Nor can the Holy Spirit fight against the intrusions of the ego on the therapeutic process. But He will wait, and His patience is infinite. His goal is wholly undivided always. Whatever resolutions patient and therapist reach in connection with their own divergent goals, they cannot become completely reconciled as one until they join with His. Only then is all conflict over, for only then can there be certainty.
4. Ideally, psychotherapy is a series of holy encounters in which brothers meet to bless each other and to receive the peace of God. And this will one day come to pass for every “patient” on the face of this earth, for who except a patient could possibly have come here? The therapist is only a somewhat more specialized teacher of God. He learns through teaching, and the more advanced he is the more he teaches and the more he learns. But whatever stage he is in, there are patients who need him just that way. They cannot take more than he can give for now. Yet both will find sanity at last.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 28
Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free.
The ego makes illusions. Truth undoes its evil dreams by shining them away. Truth never makes attack. It merely is. And by its presence is the mind recalled from fantasies, awaking to the real. Forgiveness bids this presence enter in, and take its rightful place within the mind. Without forgiveness is the mind in chains, believing in its own futility. Yet with forgiveness does the light shine through the dream of darkness, offering it hope, and giving it the means to realize the freedom that is its inheritance.
We would not bind the world again today. Fear holds it prisoner. And yet Your Love has given us the means to set it free. Father, we would release it now. For as we offer freedom, it is given us. And we would not remain as prisoners, while You are holding freedom out to us.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: People are free to do whatever they choose with the Course, either treating it as a total and complete thought system within itself — which it is — or attempting to combine it with whatever other teachings they are already familiar, whether they be alternative spiritual paths, self-help techniques, or various therapeutic models. Almost without exception, however, any attempt at integrating the Course with these other practices will involve some compromise of the Course’s radical principle of nonduality, as people, often without consciously realizing what they are doing, end up bringing its profound teaching down to their own level of understanding and comfort. There certainly is nothing bad or “sinful” about these kinds of integrative efforts, but they will almost certainly dilute the Course’s message and mix levels of teaching in an unhelpful way, confusing the student and reducing the value of both the Course and what it is being combined with.
Confusion arises because the Course is never saying anything about behavior, and almost every other teaching at some level addresses the issue of how we are acting in the world and relating interpersonally with others. And the Course is simply not concerned with inter personal issues, except as they are a mirror of what is happening at an intra personal level, that is, with decisions being made at the level of mind, where the illusory experience of being a separate, individual person originates. Changes may in turn be reflected at an interpersonal level, but that would never be the Course’s focus or concern.
And so you will do well simply to direct your efforts at understanding and applying the forgiveness principles of the Course as it stands on its own, recognizing that its only purpose is to bring about a change in how you see, or interpret, the world, and not to change the world that you see. Other approaches, such as psychotherapy, may certainly also have value and serve a very useful purpose in your life. The only mistake would be to attempt to combine them with the Course’s principles, rather than simply accepting their helpfulness at their own level.
Q #931: I have a question about judgment. In your answer to Question #642, you state “The Course does not ask us not to judge, but rather to recognize the judgments we do make, including the judgment against ourselves for judging.” I understand the context in which you made this response, meaning that one should not beat oneself up or feel guilty when we succumb to judgment, as this just fuels the ego. However, I need some clarification about the first part of your response. It seems that A Course in Miracles specifically asks us not to judge in several places. In the Manual for Teachers it states: “He must learn to lay all judgment aside, and ask only what he wants in every circumstance”(M.4.I.A.7:8). Also in the manual is an essay on being non-judgmental, starting with the line: “God’s teachers do not judge” (M.4.III.1:1). So my question is: should I strive not to judge, or strive only to observe when I am judging? The answer is probably to try to do both. Can you provide any additional perspective on this issue?
A: The Course comes to us in the dream of separation from the part of the mind of the Sonship that is outside of the dream. The need for its curriculum of teaching us non-judgment rests on our decision to identify with the body and the world, having already “judged” that separation is preferable to oneness by choosing it. The answer you quote is correct in that we will not learn not to judge if we deny that we have judged already, and continue to make judgments about a multitude of things all through the day, every day. When Jesus says God’s teachers do not judge, he is referring to the fact that the only activity of the split mind is choosing, not judging. The goal of the Course is to teach us that we are minds that choose, not bodies that judge. In fact, Jesus tells us we cannot judge: “You have often been urged to refrain from judging, not because it is a right to be withheld from you. You cannot judge . You merely can believe the ego’s judgments, all of which are false” (W.pI.151.4:2,3,4, italics added ). Thus, learning to “lay all judgment aside” means learning to see in the ego’s judgments the reflection of the mind’s choice for separation, instead of struggling with the judgments, or worse, believing they are true. Moreover, doing battle with the ego’s judgments is a lost cause. The ego will always judge. The important thing is to be willing to recognize the judgments and the purpose they serve, and to remember that they are always false. Their only usefulness is in revealing the mind’s choice for separation and the need for forgiveness.
Rather than struggle with judgments, what we are asked to do is be vigilant for the ego’s judgment in every situation with willingness to “lay it aside” by questioning it and remembering that there is another way of looking. In doing so, we make room for the Holy Spirit to reinterpret everything according to His perception. Everything then becomes a classroom to learn that the ego’s judgment is not our only option. Moreover, it is wrong about everything. In this classroom, the teacher of God learns to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit, rather than to judge. Awareness of judgment is the first step in the right direction, while striving not to judge short circuits the whole process. The ego presents itself in the form of judgment; the teacher of God departs from business as usual by seeing judgment as the reflection of the mind’s choice with an opportunity to choose again. Thus, the teacher of God does not judge (M.4.III.1:1) ; he chooses.