ACIM Reading for November 29
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process, and Practice
2.- II. The Place of Religion in Psychotherapy1. To be a teacher of God, it is not necessary to be religious or even to believe in God to any recognizable extent. It is necessary, however, to teach forgiveness rather than condemnation. Even in this, complete consistency is not required, for one who had achieved that point could teach salvation completely, within an instant and without a word. Yet he who has learned all things does not need a teacher, and the healed have no need for a therapist. Relationships are still the temple of the Holy Spirit, and they will be made perfect in time and restored to eternity.
2. Formal religion has no place in psychotherapy, but it also has no real place in religion. In this world, there is an astonishing tendency to join contradictory words into one term without perceiving the contradiction at all. The attempt to formalize religion is so obviously an ego attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable that it hardly requires elaboration here. Religion is experience; psychotherapy is experience. At the highest levels they become one. Neither is truth itself, but both can lead to truth. What can be necessary to find truth, which remains perfectly obvious, but to remove the seeming obstacles to true awareness?
3. No one who learns to forgive can fail to remember God. Forgiveness, then, is all that need be taught, because it is all that need be learned. All blocks to the remembrance of God are forms of unforgiveness, and nothing else. This is never apparent to the patient, and only rarely so to the therapist. The world has marshalled all its forces against this one awareness, for in it lies the ending of the world and all it stands for.
4. Yet it is not the awareness of God that constitutes a reasonable goal for psychotherapy.
This will come when psychotherapy is complete, for where there is forgiveness truth must come. It would be unfair indeed if belief in God were necessary to psychotherapeutic success. Nor is belief in God a really meaningful concept, for God can be but known. Belief implies that unbelief is possible, but knowledge of God has no true opposite. Not to know God is to have no knowledge, and it is to this that all unforgiveness leads. And without knowledge one can have only belief.
5. Different teaching aids appeal to different people. Some forms of religion have nothing to do with God, and some forms of psychotherapy have nothing to do with healing. Yet if pupil and teacher join in sharing one goal, God will enter into their relationship because He has been invited to come in. In the same way, a union of purpose between patient and therapist restores the place of God to ascendance, first through Christ’s vision and then through the memory of God Himself. The process of psychotherapy is the return to sanity. Teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, are all insane or they would not be here. Together they can find a pathway out, for no one will find sanity alone.
6. If healing is an invitation to God to enter into His Kingdom, what difference does it make how the invitation is written? Does the paper matter, or the ink, or the pen? Or is it he who writes that gives the invitation? God comes to those who would restore His world, for they have found the way to call to Him. If any two are joined, He must be there. It does not matter what their purpose is, but they must share it wholly to succeed. It is impossible to share a goal not blessed by Christ, for what is unseen through His eyes is too fragmented to be meaningful.
7. As true religion heals, so must true psychotherapy be religious. But both have many forms, because no good teacher uses one approach to every pupil. On the contrary, he
listens patiently to each one, and lets him formulate his own curriculum; not the curriculum’s goal, but how he can best reach the aim it sets for him. Perhaps the teacher does not think of God as part of teaching. Perhaps the psychotherapist does not understand that healing comes from God. They can succeed where many who believe they have found God will fail.
8. What must the teacher do to ensure learning? What must the therapist do to bring healing about? Only one thing; the same requirement salvation asks of everyone. Each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests. Only by doing this is it possible to transcend the narrow boundaries the ego would impose upon the self. Only by doing this can teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, you and I, accept Atonement and learn to give it as it was received.
9. Communion is impossible alone. No one who stands apart can receive Christ’s vision.
It is held out to him, but he cannot hold out his hand to receive it. Let him be still and recognize his brother’s need is his own. And let him then meet his brother’s need as his and see that they are met as one, for such they are. What is religion but an aid in helping him to see that this is so? And what is psychotherapy except a help in just this same direction? It is the goal that makes these processes the same, for they are one in purpose and must thus be one in means.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 29
Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here.
Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, or hidden by deceit of any kind, if it would be escaped. It must be seen exactly as it is, where it is thought to be, in the reality which has been given it, and with the purpose that the mind accorded it. For only then are its defenses lifted, and the truth can shine upon it as it disappears.
Father, forgiveness is the light You chose to shine away all conflict and all doubt, and light the way for our return to You. No light but this can end our evil dream. No light but this can save the world. For this alone will never fail in anything, being Your gift to Your beloved Son.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q # 948: I have been in a troubled love relationship for five years. Sometimes when we’re in conflict, I accept what is being mirrored back to me as my own lack and wrong mindedness, and I feel at peace. At other times, I feel resentment toward my partner and envy other couples that I perceive as having more of a joint vision. A Course in Miracles teaches not to seek outside yourself and not to try and find another relationship that my ego would like better. Soon we will be seeing a counselor to help us with our issues. I know that the objective for the counselor will be to help us create more ego-based congruence. So how do I do this and stay true to the teaching of the Course? And if my goal is ego-based anyway, why not just find another relationship with someone who is more compatible with me?
A: A Course in Miracles is a guide that helps us shift from the ego to the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. It is not a guide to behavior. Thus, staying true to the teaching of the Course is solely a matter of what goes on in your mind. From the perspective of the Course, then, going to see a counselor for help with your issues is no more right or wrong than drinking water when you feel thirsty. The water is not healing. But it would be neither loving nor helpful to deny your body the liquid it requires to function and feel healthy. Similarly, counseling may not heal your mind. But if it can help alleviate your mental anguish, then it would be silly not to partake in it. In addition, all of our physical and psychological issues are, in reality, barriers we created to keep the Love of God out of our mind. Therefore, taking whatever actions will lessen their effects can be a helpful first step toward ultimately remembering God’s Love.
In the pamphlet Psychotherapy: Purpose, Practice and Procedure , Jesus states that “It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs” (p.3.II.6.1). Clearly, Jesus is not opposed to therapy. Moreover, we could replace the words therapist and patient with any two people who have a relationship. Healing occurs when we do not judge another — or ourselves. Thus, from Jesus’ perspective, whether you stay or leave a specific partner is irrelevant. What matters is how you stay or leave. This is why the Course urges us to ask the Holy Spirit for help questioning the purpose of all our thoughts and actions. The Holy Spirit knows that though they wear a million disguises, there are only two purposes we can have. We are always either projecting guilt or extending love. The Holy Spirit will always let us see which one we are doing.
Happily, He is an internal Therapist Who will always forget to judge us. So, if we hold His Hand, everything we do will become a healing classroom in forgiveness. Filled with His forgiveness and Love, you will recognize that neither you nor your partner is guilty — you are both simply afraid of love. It might be helpful for the two of you to work on this issue together, or it might be better to do it apart. But whether you stay together or break up, you will do so with a gentle kindness — a kindness that wants only what is best for both of you.
For a related discussion about special relationships, please see Question #701 What does the course say about leaving a relationship?.