ACIM Reading for December 1
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice
2.- IV. The Process of Illness1. As all therapy is psychotherapy, so all illness is mental illness. It is a judgment on the Son of God, and judgment is a mental activity. Judgment is a decision, made again and again, against creation and its Creator. It is a decision to perceive the universe as you would have created it. It is a decision that truth can lie and must be lies. What, then, can illness be except an expression of sorrow and of guilt? And who could weep but for his innocence?
2. Once God’s Son is seen as guilty, illness becomes inevitable. It has been asked for and will be received. And all who ask for illness have now condemned themselves to seek for remedies that cannot help, because their faith is in the illness and not in salvation. There can be nothing that a change of mind cannot effect, for all external things are only shadows of a decision already made. Change the decision, and how can its shadow be unchanged? Illness can be but guilt’s shadow, grotesque and ugly since it mimics deformity. If a deformity is seen as real, what could its shadow be except deformed?
3. The descent into hell follows step by step in an inevitable course, once the decision that guilt is real has been made. Sickness and death and misery now stalk the earth in unrelenting waves, sometimes together and sometimes in grim succession. Yet all these things, however real they seem, are but illusions. Who could have faith in them once this is realized? And who could not have faith in them until he realizes this? Healing is therapy or correction, and we have said already and will say again, all therapy is psychotherapy. To heal the sick is but to bring this realization to them.
4. The word “cure” has come into disrepute among the more “respectable” therapists of the world, and justly so. For not one of them can cure, and not one of them understands healing. At worst, they but make the body real in their own minds, and having done so, seek for magic by which to heal the ills with which their minds endow it. How could such a process cure? It is ridiculous from start to finish. Yet having started, it must finish thus. It is as if God were the devil and must be found in evil. How could love be there? And how could sickness cure? Are not these both one question?
5. At best, and the word is perhaps questionable here, the “healers” of the world may recognize the mind as the source of illness. But their error lies in the belief that it can cure itself. This has some merit in a world where “degrees of error” is a meaningful concept. Yet must their cures remain temporary, or another illness rise instead, for death has not been overcome until the meaning of love is understood. And who can understand this without the Word of God, given by Him to the Holy Spirit as His gift to you?
6. Illness of any kind may be defined as the result of a view of the self as weak, vulnerable, evil and endangered, and thus in need of constant defense. Yet if such were really the self, defense would be impossible. Therefore, the defenses sought for must be magical. They must overcome all limits perceived in the self, at the same time making a new self-concept into which the old one cannot return. In a word, error is accepted as real and dealt with by illusions. Truth being brought to illusions, reality now becomes a threat and is perceived as evil. Love becomes feared because reality is love. Thus is the circle closed against the “inroads” of salvation.
7. Illness is therefore a mistake and needs correction. And as we have already emphasized, correction cannot be achieved by first establishing the “rightness” of the mistake and then overlooking it. If illness is real it cannot be overlooked in truth, for to overlook reality is insanity. Yet that is magic’s purpose; to make illusions true through false perception. This cannot heal, for it opposes truth. Perhaps an illusion of health is substituted for a little while, but not for long. Fear cannot long be hidden by illusions, for it is part of them. It will escape and take another form, being the source of all illusions.
8. Sickness is insanity because all sickness is mental illness, and in it there are no degrees. One of the illusions by which sickness is perceived as real is the belief that illness varies in intensity; that the degree of threat differs according to the form it takes. Herein lies the basis of all errors, for all of them are but attempts to compromise by seeing just a little bit of hell. This is a mockery so alien to God that it must be forever inconceivable. But the insane believe it because they are insane.
9. A madman will defend his own illusions because in them he sees his own salvation.
Thus, he will attack the one who tries to save him from them, believing that he is attacking him. This curious circle of attack-defense is one of the most difficult problems with which the psychotherapist must deal. In fact, this is his central task; the core of psychotherapy. The therapist is seen as one who is attacking the patient’s most cherished possession; his picture of himself. And since this picture has become the patient’s security as he perceives it, the therapist cannot but be seen as a real source of danger, to be attacked and even killed.
10. The psychotherapist, then, has a tremendous responsibility. He must meet attack without attack, and therefore without defense. It is his task to demonstrate that defenses are not necessary, and that defenselessness is strength. This must be his teaching, if his lesson is to be that sanity is safe. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the insane believe that sanity is threat. This is the corollary of the “original sin”; the belief that guilt is real and fully justified. It is therefore the psychotherapist’s function to teach that guilt, being unreal, cannot be justified. But neither is it safe. And thus it must remain unwanted as well as unreal.
11. Salvation’s single doctrine is the goal of all therapy. Relieve the mind of the insane burden of guilt it carries so wearily, and healing is accomplished. The body is not cured. It is merely recognized as what it is. Seen rightly, its purpose can be understood. What is the need for sickness then? Given this single shift, all else will follow. There is no need for complicated change. There is no need for long analyses and wearying discussion and pursuits. The truth is simple, being one for all.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 1
I choose to see my brother’s sinlessness.
Forgiveness is a choice. I never see my brother as he is, for that is far beyond perception. What I see in him is merely what I wish to see, because it stands for what I want to be the truth. It is to this alone that I respond, however much I seem to be impelled by outside happenings. I choose to see what I would look upon, and this I see, and only this. My brother’s sinlessness shows me that I would look upon my own. And I will see it, having chosen to behold my brother in its holy light.
What could restore Your memory to me, except to see my brother’s sinlessness? His holiness reminds me that he was created one with me, and like myself. In him I find my Self, and in Your Son I find the memory of You as well.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1247: I have become aware that the helpful yet needy relationship I have been developing with Jesus as teacher, friend, guide, elder brother, comforter is changing to something that I would like to try to describe. My question is whether this is a normal part of the process of learning and growing toward the goal(s) of A Course in Miracles . Rather than representing solely the above roles, I now seem to grasp that Jesus is a symbol that is not at all specific or limited. I sense that the content of the right mind is really a reflection of what I denied when the so-called dream of separation began, and like its source, the abstract content of the right mind merely is .
Therefore, I can better understand that Jesus or the Holy Spirit really do nothing. Somehow, in some way that I do not understand, my mind opens a little and allows or accepts some experience of what we call truth, love, peace, Atonement, and it is that experience (the miracle) that corrects and cancels out my errors in perception if I sincerely desire to let them go. What I am recognizing is that I am the one doing all the work; that my progress really is up to me, and I am more aware of the meaning of “a little willingness” to take responsibility when choosing my ego. Somewhere in your writings or tapes there is something about eventually growing up in our dependent relationship with our elder brother, Jesus. What do you make of this seeming change in my needy relationship with Jesus? I’m not just trying to kick him out again, am I?
A: What you describe seems to be the natural transition that should take place. The spiritual path of A Course in Miracles is a journey leading us back to the oneness of perfect Love that we believe we shattered by desiring our own special individualized existence. Therefore, any semblance of separation must eventually disappear in our minds if we are to regain our true Identity as Christ and return home to God. Relating to Jesus as an older, wiser brother is a wonderful starting point on our journey. He even asks us to relate to him that way, and to learn how to trust him unconditionally, acknowledging that he knows what is in our best interests and we do not. At that level we still see ourselves as separate from him, and very much dependent on him. That is as it should be, but it is just the beginning stage of the relationship, and he does not want us to remain at that level of spiritual childhood.
Thus, at one point he says, “I will teach with you and live with you if you will think with me, but my goal will always be to absolve you finally from the need for a teacher” (T.4.I.6:3). He wants us to become what he is, something he expresses early in the text: “There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you. . . . I am in [no] way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist” (T.1.II.3:5,6,10,11,12,13; 4:1). And near the end of the workbook he speaks very movingly of our oneness with him: “Yet in the final days of this one year we gave to God together, you and I, we found a single purpose that we shared. And thus you joined with me, so what I am are you as well” (W.pII.14.2:2,3).
A parallel to this is found in his description of prayer as a ladder (see The Song of Prayer pamphlet, S.I,II) . The bottom rungs of the ladder are marked by our pleas for help with our needs and problems. But as we find ourselves attracted to the loving Source of the answers, our perception of what we think we need changes. Now we grow increasingly vigilant for what stands in the way of our experiencing that love all the time, with all of our seeming problems fading in significance. We recognize that our only need is to awaken from the dream of separation, “the only real need to be fulfilled in time” (T.13.VII.16:6; see also T.13.VII.14:2,3; T.24.V.6:6) . We should be careful, though, not to skip steps and pretend that we are on the higher rungs of the spiritual ladder when we are not. It is humbling indeed to be told that we are in the infancy stage of salvation (T.19.IV.C.9,10) , but that humility is required if we are going to hear the answer to our call for help.
Spiritual maturity on the Course’s path involves the recognition at some point that Jesus is really a symbol of the contents in our right mind that we have split off. Because of this dissociation, our only access to our right minds usually is to first relate to Jesus as a person like us, a loving brother devoted to teaching and helping us. As we allow him to show us that we have been wrong about everything — especially about who we think we are — we begin to realize that everything is going on only in our minds, which means that we begin to relate to everything as symbols of the choice we have made in our minds to identify with separation as reality or with oneness as reality. Our experience of both Jesus and ourselves will then change. We must gradually move beyond the perception of separate bodies relating to one another, or we will remain asleep and dreaming, living as aliens in a world that is not our home.
All of this is pulled together in Kenneth’s Lighthouse article, “Our Equality with Jesus: A Child, a Man, and Then a Spirit” (Dec. 2004; a copy appears on our Web site collection of newsletter articles). Another helpful resource is our tape/cd set, “Jesus — Symbol and Reality,” in which Kenneth focuses on the growth from spiritual childhood to spiritual maturity. Chapter 17 in Absence from Felicity also presents this spectrum in the context of Helen Schucman’s experience of Jesus.
Q #1248: In the various thought systems extant in the world, there is often in-depth discussion of the “unconscious mind” and the “subconscious mind.” In A Course in Miracles’ view, are these the same, different, interchangeable areas of the mind? Since words are merely symbols twice removed and several words can symbolize the same idea (Jesus/Holy Spirit or God/Perfect Love/Oneness), could we just as easily say our guilt remains buried in the “subconscious mind” instead of the “unconscious mind”?
A: The term subconscious does not appear in A Course in Miracles ; but the term unconscious is used to describe the mind’s intentional banishing of something from awareness. The emphasis is on the mind’s decision not to deal with what it has judged fearful, or simply what it wants forever concealed. For example, Jesus explains in Lesson 136 that we “set up a series of defenses to reduce the threat that has been judged real,” and then after we do this, we deliberately forget we did it: “your plan requires that you must forget you made it . . . . (W.pI.136.4:1,3). In this sense, Jesus is not really talking about a “region” in our minds, but the activity of the decision maker.