ACIM Reading for December 7
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice
3.- II. Is Psychotherapy a Profession?1. Strictly speaking the answer is no. How could a separate profession be one in which everyone is engaged? And how could any limits be laid on an interaction in which everyone is both patient and therapist in every relationship in which he enters? Yet practically speaking, it can still be said that there are those who devote themselves primarily to healing of one sort or another as their chief function. And it is to them that a large number of others turn for help. That, in effect, is the practice of therapy. These are therefore “officially” helpers. They are devoted to certain kinds of needs in their professional activities, although they may be far more able teachers outside of them. These people need no special rules, of course, but they may be called upon to use special applications of the general principles of healing.
2. First, the professional therapist is in an excellent position to demonstrate that there is no order of difficulty in healing. For this, however, he needs special training, because the curriculum by which he became a therapist probably taught him little or nothing about the real principles of healing. In fact, it probably taught him how to make healing impossible. Most of the world’s teaching follows a curriculum in judgment, with the aim of making the therapist a judge.
3. Even this the Holy Spirit can use, and will use, given the slightest invitation. The unhealed healer may be arrogant, selfish, unconcerned, and actually dishonest. He may be uninterested in healing as his major goal. Yet something happened to him, however slight it may have been, when he chose to be a healer, however misguided the direction he may have chosen. That “something” is enough. Sooner or later that something will rise and grow; a patient will touch his heart, and the therapist will silently ask him for help. He has himself found a therapist. He has asked the Holy Spirit to enter the relationship and heal it. He has accepted the Atonement for himself.
4. God is said to have looked on all He created and pronounced it good. No, He declared it perfect, and so it was. And since His creations do not change and last forever, so it is now. Yet neither a perfect therapist nor a perfect patient can possibly exist. Both must have denied their perfection, for their very need for each other implies a sense of lack. A one-to-one relationship is not one Relationship. Yet it is the means of return; the way God chose for the return of His Son. In that strange dream a strange correction must enter, for only that is the call to awake. And what else should therapy be? Awake and be glad, for all your sins have been forgiven you. This is the only message that any two should ever give each other.
5. Something good must come from every meeting of patient and therapist. And that good is saved for both, against the day when they can recognize that only that was real in their relationship. At that moment the good is returned to them, blessed by the Holy Spirit as a gift from their Creator as a sign of His Love. For the therapeutic relationship must become like the relationship of the Father and the Son. There is no other, for there is nothing else. The therapists of this world do not expect this outcome, and many of their patients would not be able to accept help from them if they did. Yet no therapist really sets the goal for the relationships of which he is a part. His understanding begins with recognizing this, and then goes on from there.
6. It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs. In some relationships this point is never reached, although both patient and therapist may change their dreams in the process. Yet it will not be the same dream for both of them, and so it is not the dream of forgiveness in which both will someday wake. The good is saved; indeed is cherished. But only little time is saved. The new dreams will lose their temporary appeal and turn to dreams of fear, which is the content of all dreams. Yet no patient can accept more than he is ready to receive, and no therapist can offer more than he believes he has. And so there is a place for all relationships in this world, and they will bring as much good as each can accept and use.
7. Yet it is when judgment ceases that healing occurs, because only then it can be understood that there is no order of difficulty in healing. This is a necessary understanding for the healed healer. He has learned that it is no harder to wake a brother from one dream than from another. No professional therapist can hold this understanding consistently in his mind, offering it to all who come to him. There are some in this world who have come very close, but they have not accepted the gift entirely in order to stay and let their understanding remain on earth until the closing of time. They could hardly be called professional therapists. They are the Saints of God. They are the Saviors of the world. Their image remains, because they have chosen that it be so. They take the place of other images, and help with kindly dreams.
8. Once the professional therapist has realized that minds are joined, he can also recognize that order of difficulty in healing is meaningless. Yet well before he reaches this in time he can go towards it. Many holy instants can be his along the way. A goal marks the end of a journey, not the beginning, and as each goal is reached another can be dimly seen ahead. Most professional therapists are still at the very start of the beginning stage of the first journey. Even those who have begun to understand what they must do may still oppose the setting-out. Yet all the laws of healing can be theirs in just an instant. The journey is not long except in dreams.
9. The professional therapist has one advantage that can save enormous time if it is properly used. He has chosen a road in which there is great temptation to misuse his role. This enables him to pass by many obstacles to peace quite quickly, if he escapes the temptation to assume a function that has not been given him. To understand there is no order of difficulty in healing, he must also recognize the equality of himself and the patient. There is no halfway point in this. Either they are equal or not. The attempts of therapists to compromise in this respect are strange indeed. Some utilize the relationship merely to collect bodies to worship at their shrine, and this they regard as healing. Many patients, too, consider this strange procedure as salvation. Yet at each meeting there is One Who says, “My brother, choose again.”
10. Do not forget that any form of specialness must be defended, and will be. The defenseless therapist has the strength of God with him, but the defensive therapist has lost sight of the Source of his salvation. He does not see and he does not hear. How, then, can he teach? Because it is the Will of God that he take his place in the plan for salvation. Because it is the Will of God that his patient be helped to join with him there. Because his inability to see and hear does not limit the Holy Spirit in any way. Except in time. In time there can be a great lag between the offering and the acceptance of healing. This is the veil across the face of Christ. Yet it can be but an illusion, because time does not exist and the Will of God has always been exactly as it is.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 7
Section 13. What is a Miracle?
A miracle is a correction. It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. It undoes error, but does not attempt to go beyond perception, nor exceed the function of forgiveness. Thus it stays within time’s limits. Yet it paves the way for the return of timelessness and love’s awakening, for fear must slip away under the gentle remedy it brings.
A miracle contains the gift of grace, for it is given and received as one. And thus it illustrates the law of truth the world does not obey, because it fails entirely to understand its ways. A miracle inverts perception which was upside down before, and thus it ends the strange distortions that were manifest. Now is perception open to the truth. Now is forgiveness seen as justified.
Forgiveness is the home of miracles. The eyes of Christ deliver them to all they look upon in mercy and in love. Perception stands corrected in His sight, and what was meant to curse has come to bless. Each lily of forgiveness offers all the world the silent miracle of love. And each is laid before the Word of God, upon the universal altar to Creator and creation in the light of perfect purity and endless joy.
The miracle is taken first on faith, because to ask for it implies the mind has been made ready to conceive of what it cannot see and does not understand. Yet faith will bring its witnesses to show that what it rested on is really there. And thus the miracle will justify your faith in it, and show it rested on a world more real than what you saw before; a world redeemed from what you thought was there.
Miracles fall like drops of healing rain from Heaven on a dry and dusty world, where starved and thirsty creatures come to die. Now they have water. Now the world is green. And everywhere the signs of life spring up, to show that what is born can never die, for what has life has immortality.
I can attack but my own sinlessness,
And it is only that which keeps me safe.
Father, Your Son is holy. I am he on whom You smile in love and tenderness so dear and deep and still the universe smiles back on You, and shares Your Holiness. How pure, how safe, how holy, then, are we, abiding in Your Smile, with all Your Love bestowed upon us, living one with You, in brotherhood and Fatherhood complete; in sinlessness so perfect that the Lord of Sinlessness conceives us as His Son, a universe of Thought completing Him.
Let us not, then, attack our sinlessness, for it contains the Word of God to us. And in its kind reflection we are saved.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: God cannot not take the last step. There really is only one step and He already took it. It seems that we are on a journey with multiple steps only because our fear of awakening is so great. We therefore proceed gently, “step by step” through the healing process. To accommodate our fear and resistance, Jesus uses an expression such as God taking a step because it makes sense to us. Since we think in terms of linear time, and believe that the separation has been accomplished, we perceive the need for a gradual process of undoing. Our only concern is the steps of forgiveness we are asked to take. We don’t even have to refrain from the last step. It is a given, once the blocks of resistance are removed. In the end, we will awaken from the dream of separation and remember the first and only step that God took in creating His Son. That is the meaning of what Jesus tells us in the text: “ For God will take the last step swiftly, when you have reached the real world and have been made ready for Him” (T.17.II.4:5).
Q #1054: Over the years I’ve had an experience from time to time while sleeping, where my mind wakes up and I feel I’m in an astral plane racing up to higher levels. It feels very real and I feel cool air and my mind feels very electric, like I’ve left my body. I get a little fearful and try to pull myself back and wake up my body. This has shown me that there are much deeper levels in my mind that I normally wouldn’t experience in my everyday life. It seems like I really fear letting go of my body and the world when I have this experience. Now I see why no matter what good intentions I have for letting go of my ego and being at peace, I’m so entrenched in my ego/body identity. For 40 years it’s a chipping away process, little by little, because of the deep rooted fear/guilt I don’t even notice on the surface. Is this why we rarely experience the deeper levels of our mind because of the massive block of guilt and fear?
A: Yes, the guilt experienced by the mind for choosing against itself, and thereby against God, is very deep. It has been covered over by layers of denial spurned by fear of God’s punishment. Experiences that indicate we are not physical bodies, such as the one you describe, often evoke feelings of fear that reflect the mind’s fear of recognizing its identity as mind. Your insight into the fear of losing the body’s identity is very helpful. It explains why it is so difficult to understand the Course, regardless of Jesus’ assurance that it is very simple ( T.11.VIII.1:1). Though it is difficult, practicing it and applying its teachings to our lives is much more so, due to our tremendous resistance to letting go of the ego’s thought system. The process begins with the recognition of resistance by an honest admission of how firmly we hold on to the ego. Seeing the blocks of resistance makes the need for setting a gentle pace in the undoing process obvious. It also accomplishes one of the most important steps in learning the Holy Spirit’s curriculum: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” (T.16.IV.6:1).
In the manual, Jesus refers to resistance in a way that applies to your experience. He tells us that resistance to healing is “enormous” because it requires the acceptance that our experience of the world is the result of a choice in the mind (See: M.5.II.1) . This returns responsibility for it to the mind, and in the process undoes all belief in the decision- making power of the body. The ego has taught us (and we have learned the lesson well) that the body makes decisions and “rules” the world. This belief makes both the body and the world real in our experience. Clinging to this belief we resist Jesus’ teaching in order to protect the world and the body, and to maintain the thought of separation.
An experience of the astral body, although still within the realm of the ego, may serve as a reminder to the mind that it cannot be contained in a body. Indeed, it does not belong to the body at all, neither astral nor physical. Therein lies the threat to the body’s “existence” that evokes fear in the form of resistance calling to mind Jesus’ words of caution: “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough” (T.18.IV.2:1,2). A healthy respect for the intensity of attachment to the body sets a firm foundation for proceeding with patience and gentleness through the learning process. It helps dispel the fantasy of instant success and keeps the mind calmly focused on the path of forgiveness. Your insight into the depths of the searing guilt that permeates the dream of separation is therefore of great value. Neither the guilt nor the resistance will prevail. Acknowledging them can only save time by not wasting it on escapades into deeper forays of denial. We are not asked not to have the blocks of resistance, but countless times we are asked to look in order to find them. In few words Jesus puts the simple task before us: “Be vigilant…” (T.6.V.C) . And when you find the blocks it will not be the ego that has led you.