A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 31

ACIM Text Reading for January 31

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

IV. Healing as Release from Fear

Our emphasis is now on healing. The miracle is the means, the Atonement is the principle, and healing is the result. To speak of ‘a miracle of healing’ is to combine two orders of reality inappropriately. Healing is not a miracle. The Atonement, or the final miracle, is a remedy and any type of healing is a result. The kind of error to which Atonement is applied is irrelevant. All healing is essentially the release from fear. To undertake this you cannot be fearful yourself. You do not understand healing because of your own fear.

A major step in the Atonement plan is to undo error at all levels. Sickness or ‘not-right-mindedness’ is the result of level confusion, because it always entails the belief that what is amiss on one level can adversely affect another. We have referred to miracles as the means of correcting level confusion, for all mistakes must be corrected at the level on which they occur. Only the mind is capable of error. The body can act wrongly only when it is responding to misthought. The body cannot create, and the belief that it can, a fundamental error, produces all physical symptoms. Physical illness represents a belief in magic. The whole distortion that made magic rests on the belief that there is a creative ability in matter which the mind cannot control. This error can take two forms; it can be believed that the mind can miscreate in the body, or that the body can miscreate in the mind. When it is understood that the mind, the only level of creation, cannot create beyond itself, neither type of confusion need occur.

Only the mind can create because spirit has already been created, and the body is a learning device of the mind. Learning devices are not lessons in themselves. Their purpose is merely to facilitate learning. The worst a faulty use of a learning device can do is to fail to facilitate learning. It has no power in itself to introduce actual learning errors. The body, if properly understood, shares the invulnerability of the Atonement to two-edged application. This is not because the body is a miracle, but because it is not inherently open to misinterpretation. The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world. Its abilities can be and frequently are over-evaluated. However, it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial. The term ‘unworthy’ here implies only that it is not necessary to protect the mind by denying the unmindful. If one denies this unfortunate aspect of the mind’s power, one is also denying the power itself.

All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles. This is the first step in believing that the body makes its own illness. It is a second misstep to heal it through non-creative agents. It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents for corrective purposes is evil. Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement. In this case it may be wise to utilise a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief. This is because the last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear. They are already in a fear-weakened state. If they are prematurely exposed to a miracle, they may be precipitated into panic. This is likely to occur when upside-down perception has induced the belief that miracles are frightening.

The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 31

Lesson 15

My thoughts are images that I have made.

It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them. This is how your “seeing” was made. This is the function you have given your body’s eyes. It is not seeing. It is image making. It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.

This introductory idea to the process of image making that you call seeing will not have much meaning for you. You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision. You can be certain that real vision will come quickly when this has occurred.

As we go along, you may have many “light episodes.” They may take many different forms, some of them quite unexpected. Do not be afraid of them. They are signs that you are opening your eyes at last. They will not persist, because they merely symbolize true perception, and they are not related to knowledge. These exercises will not reveal knowledge to you. But they will prepare the way to it.

In practicing the idea for today, repeat it first to yourself, and then apply it to whatever you see around you, using its name and letting your eyes rest on it as you say:

This ___ is an image that I have made.
That ___ is an image that I have made.

It is not necessary to include a large number of specific subjects for the application of today’s idea. It is necessary, however, to continue to look at each subject while you repeat the idea to yourself. The idea should be repeated quite slowly each time.

Although you will obviously not be able to apply the idea to very many things during the minute or so of practice that is recommended, try to make the selection as random as possible. Less than a minute will do for the practice periods, if you begin to feel uneasy. Do not have more than three application periods for today’s idea unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and do not exceed four. However, the idea can be applied as needed throughout the day.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #248: I am studying the section “Healing as Release from Fear” in the text of A Course in Miracles. Can you please help me understand what is meant when Jesus says that “the mind, the only level of creation, cannot create beyond itself” (T.2.IV.2:10). I am unclear about the meaning of “cannot create beyond itself.”

A: In the context of the discussion in this section, the meaning of the passage is that the Christ Mind was created by God and that Mind cannot create something totally different from itself, such as a body. There can be ideas or thoughts in the mind, but they never leave their source in the mind to become something else. The point Jesus is making is that a great deal of our confusion would clear up if we understood that the body and the mind are not two separate entities, and that the body is only an idea in the mind; it has no autonomous capabilities and therefore cannot be sick.

*

Q #218: The discussion of light episodes in Lesson 15 seems anomalous in that it is virtually the only time in which A Course in Miracles uses a physical phenomenon to measure spiritual progress. (The other examples, such as Lesson 122 2:3 and Lesson 155.1:3, are obviously meant to be poetic.) In fact, people I know, including myself, who feel they have made great progress with the Course do not recall such experiences. Is it possible that this was a result of Helen’s ego coming through temporarily during early resistance to the scribing process?

A: The reference in Lesson 15 pertains to a problem with some religious experiences that a friend of Bill Thetford’s was having. It was put in by Jesus specifically to alleviate this friend’s anxiety about visions of light that he was finding quite frightening; thus, “Do not be afraid of them” (W.pI.15.3:3). (See Absence from Felicity, p. 306, under “Bill’s Journal.”)

Although the reference suggests that all students may have these “light episodes,” it was not meant to be a criterion of progress with the Course. It can be understood as a symbol of the non- material light of forgiveness.

*

Q #339: There are two quotations (among many) in the workbook of A Course in Miracles which have puzzled me for a very long time. I would appreciate some clarification. (1) “You will begin to understand it when you have seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects which you see now. That is the beginning of real vision…..As we go along, you may have many ‘light episodes'” (W.pI.15.2:2;3:1). I have been doing this material for years and know a great many people who have also, and no one I know has had such an experience, although I have had some wondrous experiences. (2) “The time will come when you will not return in the same form in which you now appear, for you will have no need of it.” W.pI.157.7:3. I assume this means when we leave the body, but in what form will we reappear?

A: (1) This passage has been troubling to many students. It seems to suggest that a mark of spiritual progress is seeing edges of light around objects, such as auras. If this were the literal meaning, it would go against everything else the Course teaches. Jesus, as we know, stresses that all perception is unreal. In the text he says that however holy visions may be, they do not last because they are based on perception (T.3.III.4:6)Light is a symbol; it is not a perceptual thing. Perceiving light outside you symbolizes the release of some of the darkness in your mind and allowing more of the light to come through. When the Course talks about the light in us, it is not talking about an electric light bulb, an aura, or anything that we actually perceive. Light traditionally has been a symbol used in spirituality to denote God, life, truth, etc. So A Course in Miracles uses that same imagery. Darkness refers to the darkness of guilt and of being separate from God; light refers to the undoing all of that, along with feeling God’s Presence and His love.

This passage originally had nothing to do with the Course itself. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford had a close friend who worked with them at the Medical Center — he was the only person they shared the Course with right from the beginning. From time to time he would wake up in the middle of the night and feel and see light all around him. He was terrified by these episodes. So this was Jesus’ way of telling him that everything was all right when he had those light episodes. (See Absence from Felicity, p. 304.) That is why this passage appears. Kenneth has felt that there should have been a footnote or some explanation to that effect. In any case, it should not be taken to mean that if you don’t see light that you are a spiritual failure. It can be taken to mean rather that when you forgive more, there will be more “light” in your mind, which means that that light will be extended. Then you will perceive the world as a “lightened” place, in the sense that the burden of guilt will no longer be upon it. Some people actually perceive light physically. But that should be understood only as a symbol — one of many, many symbols — of the process of healing within their own minds.

(2) Similarly, the passage in Lesson 157 was originally meant for Helen Schucman herself. Kenneth comments in Absence from Felicity: “On a number of occasions Helen mentioned to me that Jesus told her that the ‘next time you come you would be different,’ reminiscent of the lines in Lesson 157…Incidentally, this was one of Helen’s favorite lessons. Her understanding of these lines, even though the subject of reincarnation usually made her very uncomfortable, was that the next time she ‘came’ — her next life — she would be ego-free, as was the priestess of her vision” (p. 476).

So this passage can be understood to mean that when the purpose of forgiveness is fulfilled, we shall have no further need of the body as a classroom. We shall have remembered who we are as God’s one Son as we enter into the real world. When we next appear in the body, we would obviously be different because the thought in our minds would be different. The body would not be our classroom but solely a means through which the Holy Spirit can communicate His message of healing and forgiveness. Jesus speaks of “Teachers of teachers” in this manner: “…although they are no longer visible, their image can yet be called upon. And they will appear when and where it is helpful for them to do so” (M.26.2:2,3).

*

Q #1227I have a question about lights. I have been doing the Course for a very short time (about seven months), and I am already seeing light shows in my meditative states. I never experienced this before and I’m a little nervous. Although I do feel very peaceful, I’m still ready to run to the eye doctor to check and see if I have glaucoma or something! I still haven’t seen light around the edges of things or anything really in the world of form, but when I lay down it’s showtime! My question really is this: Isn’t it too soon for me to be seeing this stuff? It’s a little scary sometimes and I don’t know if it is real or somehow just a figment of my imagination. Why after just beginning A Course in Miracles would I have these episodes when others have been faithfully doing the course for years and don’t seem to have these experiences?

A: Like everything else in the world of perception, once we have made it real in our minds, the lights you are seeing are in themselves neutral. And what determines their value is the interpretation you give them, which depends only on to which teacher you turn to give them their meaning.

Turn to the ego and you will see them as evidence of your specialness, an interpretation you’ve already been in touch with when you believe they somehow make you different from, possibly even better than, other students who have been studying the Course much longer. By the way, although the wording of Lesson 15 may seem to suggest that experiences of light will be an outcome of practicing the Course’s principles, you may find that the discussions of these kinds of phenomena, presented in Questions #218 and #339, can provide some helpful clarification. And so whether one experiences light episodes earlier or later in one’s work with the Course, or not at all, in the end is irrelevant to the Course’s genuine purpose, which is to teach us how to undo our investment in the ego and its thought system of separation and differences, through the practice of forgiveness — the releasing of all of our judgments.

Turn to the Holy Spirit in your right mind, and your light experiences can become symbols that remind you that all perception is ultimately illusory — and that may be at least in part what you are finding so frightening about your experience — for the seeming external world of our perception is no more nor less a figment of your imagination than the flashes of light and flaming sparks you are seeing during your meditations with the workbook lessons. The light can also symbolize the little willingness needed to shine away the darkness of the ego’s thought system of sin and guilt by looking directly at it and seeing through it e.g., T.11.in.3) . And, when seen through the vision of the Holy Spirit, it can also be a symbol of the formless light and love that is our reality as God’s Son, an extension of His perfect Love e.g., T.12.VI.7:2,3) .

Perhaps the most important thing you may wish to keep in mind about your experiences is that nothing of the world of perception is of any value in itself. If the experiences should continue for any time, simply enjoy them without making them a big deal. And if they should cease, nothing of value will have been lost.

teach not that i died in vain

Advertisements

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 30

ACIM Text Reading for January 30

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

III. The Altar of God

The Atonement can only be accepted within you by releasing the inner light. Since the separation, defences have been used almost entirely to defend against the Atonement, and thus maintain the separation. This is generally seen as a need to protect the body. The many body fantasies in which minds engage arise from the distorted belief that the body can be used as a means for attaining ‘atonement’. Perceiving the body as a temple is only the first step in correcting this distortion, because it alters only part of it. It does recognise that Atonement in physical terms is impossible. The next step, however, is to realise that a temple is not a structure at all. Its true holiness lies at the inner altar around which the structure is built. The emphasis on beautiful structures is a sign of the fear of Atonement, and an unwillingness to reach the altar itself. The real beauty of the temple cannot be seen with the physical eye. Spiritual sight, on the other hand, cannot see the structure at all because it is perfect vision. It can, however, see the altar with perfect clarity.

For perfect effectiveness the Atonement belongs at the centre of the inner altar, where it undoes the separation and restores the wholeness of the mind. Before the separation the mind was invulnerable to fear, because fear did not exist. Both the separation and the fear are miscreations that must be undone for the restoration of the temple, and for the opening of the altar to receive the Atonement. This heals the separation by placing within you the one effective defence against all separation thoughts and making you perfectly invulnerable.

The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time. This may appear to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision, but this is not so. You can temporise and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your Creator, Who set the limits on your ability to miscreate. An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognise, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point. This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight. The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute. But the outcome is as certain as God.

Spiritual vision literally cannot see error, and merely looks for Atonement. All solutions the physical eye seeks dissolve. Spiritual vision looks within and recognises immediately that the altar has been defiled and needs to be repaired and protected. Perfectly aware of the right defence it passes over all others, looking past error to truth. Because of the strength of its vision, it brings the mind into its service. This re-establishes the power of the mind and makes it increasingly unable to tolerate delay, realising that it only adds unnecessary pain. As a result, the mind becomes increasingly sensitive to what it would once have regarded as very minor intrusions of discomfort.

The children of God are entitled to the perfect comfort that comes from perfect trust. Until they achieve this, they waste themselves and their true creative powers on useless attempts to make themselves more comfortable by inappropriate means. But the real means are already provided, and do not involve any effort at all on their part. The Atonement is the only gift that is worthy of being offered at the altar of God, because of the value of the altar itself. It was created perfect and is entirely worthy of receiving perfection. God and His creations are completely dependent on Each Other. He depends on them because He created them perfect. He gave them His peace so they could not be shaken and could not be deceived. Whenever you are afraid you aredeceived, and your mind cannot serve the Holy Spirit. This starves you by denying you your daily bread. God is lonely without His Sons, and they are lonely without Him. They must learn to look upon the world as a means of healing the separation. The Atonement is the guarantee that they will ultimately succeed.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 30

Lesson 14

God did not create a meaningless world.

The idea for today is, of course, the reason why a meaningless world is impossible. What God did not create does not exist. And everything that does exist exists as He created it. The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist.

The exercises for today are to be practiced with eyes closed throughout. The mind-searching period should be short, a minute at most. Do not have more than three practice periods with today’s idea unless you find them comfortable. If you do, it will be because you really understand what they are for.

The idea for today is another step in learning to let go the thoughts that you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place. The early steps in this exchange, which can truly be called salvation, can be quite difficult and even quite painful. Some of them will lead you directly into fear. You will not be left there. You will go far beyond it. Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace.

With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind. Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its reality. God did not create it, and so it is not real. Say, for example:

God did not create that war, and so it is not real.
God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real.
God did not create that disaster [specify], and so it is not real.

Suitable subjects for the application of today’s idea also include anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned. In each case, name the “disaster” quite specifically. Do not use general terms. For example, do not say, “God did not create illness,” but, “God did not create cancer,” or heart attacks, or whatever may arouse fear in you.

This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking. These things are part of the world you see. Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell. It does not matter. What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His. Therefore, it has no meaning. In recognition of this fact, conclude the practice periods by repeating today’s idea:

God did not create a meaningless world.

The idea for today can, of course, be applied to anything that disturbs you during the day, aside from the practice periods. Be very specific in applying it. Say:

God did not create a meaningless world. He did not create [specify the situation which is disturbing you], and so it is not real.

 

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #136: In the text, Jesus states that “God is lonely without His Sons” (T.2.III.5:11). In light of the theology of A Course in Miracles, how is this explained as true?

A: Jesus uses these words as a comfort to us, correcting our ego belief that God is angry at us and wants to punish us for attacking Him to establish our separate self, torn from the totality of Heaven (T.5.V.3:10,11). Since the Course says over and over again that the separation never happened in reality — that’s the Atonement principle — the line you refer to can not be literally true. But what a reassuring thought, while we still believe in separation, to hear not only that God is not seeking vengeance against us, but He misses us and only wants us to come back to Him! If we can allow ourselves to hear that, we can begin to heal the guilt that we have made real in our mind over our supposed assault on Love.

You may also wish to refer to Question #72 in this series for a further discussion of Course language about God, as well as Questions #42 and #85, which discuss the reasons for the metaphorical, dualistic language of the Course.

kingdom of god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 29

ACIM Text Reading for January 29

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

II. The Atonement as Defence

You can do anything I ask. I have asked you to perform miracles, and have made it clear that miracles are natural, corrective, healing and universal. There is nothing they cannot do, but they cannot be performed in the spirit of doubt or fear. When you are afraid of anything, you are acknowledging its power to hurt you. Remember that where your heart is, there is your treasure also. You believe in what you value. If you are afraid, you will inevitably value wrongly, and by endowing all thoughts with equal power will inevitably destroy peace. That is why the Bible speaks of ‘the peace of God which passeth understanding’. This peace is totally incapable of being shaken by errors of any kind. It denies the ability of anything not of God to affect you. This is the proper use of denial. It is not used to hide anything, but to correct error. It brings all error into the light, and since error and darkness are the same, it corrects error automatically.

True denial is a powerful protective device. You can and should deny any belief that error can hurt you. This kind of denial is not a concealment but a correction. Your right mind depends on it. Denial of error is a strong defence of truth, but denial of truth results in miscreation, the projections of the ego. In the service of the right mind the denial of error frees the mind, and re-establishes the freedom of the will. When the will is really free it cannot miscreate, because it recognises only truth.

You can defend truth as well as error. The means are easier to understand after the value of the goal is firmly established. It is a question of what it is for. Everyone defends his treasure, and will do so automatically. The real questions are, what do you treasure, and how much do you treasure it? Once you have learned to consider these questions and to bring them into all your actions, you will have little difficulty in clarifying the means. The means are available whenever you ask. You can, however, save time if you do not protract this step unduly. The correct focus will shorten it immeasurably.

The Atonement is the only defence that cannot be used destructively because it is not a device you made. The Atonementprinciple was in effect long before the Atonement began. The principle was love and the Atonement was an act of love. Acts were not necessary before the separation, because belief in space and time did not exist. It was only after the separation that the Atonement and the conditions necessary for its fulfilment were planned. Then a defence so splendid was needed that it could not be misused, although it could be refused. Refusal could not, however, turn it into a weapon of attack, which is the inherent characteristic of other defences. The Atonement thus becomes the only defence that is not a two-edged sword. It can only heal.

The Atonement was built into the space-time belief to set a limit on the need for the belief itself, and ultimately to make learning complete. The Atonement is the final lesson. Learning itself, like the classrooms in which it occurs, is temporary. The ability to learn has no value when change is no longer necessary. The eternally creative have nothing to learn. You can learn to improve your perceptions and can become a better and better learner. This will bring you into closer and closer accord with the Sonship; but the Sonship itself is a perfect creation and perfection is not a matter of degree. Only while there is a belief in differences is learning meaningful.

Evolution is a process in which you seem to proceed from one degree to the next. You correct your previous missteps by stepping forward. This process is actually incomprehensible in temporal terms, because you return as you go forward. The Atonement is the device by which you can free yourself from the past as you go ahead. It undoes your past errors, thus making it unnecessary for you to keep retracing your steps without advancing to your return. In this sense the Atonement saves time, but like the miracle it serves, does not abolish it. As long as there is need for Atonement, there is need for time. But the Atonement as a completed plan has a unique relationship to time. Until the Atonement is complete its various phases will proceed in time, but the whole Atonement stands at time’s end. At that point the bridge of return has been built.

The Atonement is a total commitment. You may still think this is associated with loss, a mistake all the separated Sons of God make in one way or another. It is hard to believe a defence that cannot attack is the best defence. This is what is meant by ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’. They will literally take it over because of their strength. A two-way defence is inherently weak precisely because it has two edges, and can be turned against you very unexpectedly. This possibility cannot be controlled except by miracles. The miracle turns the defence of Atonement to your real protection, and as you become more and more secure you assume your natural talent of protecting others, knowing yourself as both a brother and a Son.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 29

Lesson 13

A meaningless world engenders fear.

Today’s idea is really another form of the preceding one, except that it is more specific as to the emotion aroused. Actually, a meaningless world is impossible. Nothing without meaning exists. However, it does not follow that you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning. On the contrary, you will be particularly likely to think you do perceive it.

Recognition of meaninglessness arouses intense anxiety in all the separated ones. It represents a situation in which God and the ego “challenge” each other as to whose meaning is to be written in the empty space that meaninglessness provides. The ego rushes in frantically to establish its own ideas there, fearful that the void may otherwise be used to demonstrate its own impotence and unreality. And on this alone it is correct.

It is essential, therefore, that you learn to recognize the meaningless, and accept it without fear. If you are fearful, it is certain that you will endow the world with attributes that it does not possess, and crowd it with images that do not exist. To the ego illusions are safety devices, as they must also be to you who equate yourself with the ego.

The exercises for today, which should be done about three or four times for not more than a minute or so at most each time, are to be practiced in a somewhat different way from the preceding ones. With eyes closed, repeat today’s idea to yourself. Then open your eyes, and look about you slowly, saying:

I am looking at a meaningless world.

Repeat this statement to yourself as you look about. Then close your eyes, and conclude with:

A meaningless world engenders fear because I think I am in competition with God.

You may find it difficult to avoid resistance, in one form or another, to this concluding statement. Whatever form such resistance may take, remind yourself that you are really afraid of such a thought because of the “vengeance” of the “enemy.” You are not expected to believe the statement at this point, and will probably dismiss it as preposterous. Note carefully, however, any signs of overt or covert fear which it may arouse.

This is our first attempt at stating an explicit cause and effect relationship of a kind which you are very inexperienced in recognizing. Do not dwell on the concluding statement, and try not even to think of it except during the practice periods. That will suffice at present.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #921It is often said that the function of the Holy Spirit is to act as a cap on our capacity to miscreate, and in fact the Course says: “you cannot depart entirely from your Creator, Who set the limits on your ability to miscreate” (T.2.III.3:3). First and foremost is the implication that the ability to miscreate at all is an endowment from the Creator, against which some kind of insurance is necessary. No matter how I think about it, it suggests an Achilles heel in the perfection of Creation, which is an oxymoron.

Second, exactly how does this limit manifest itself? I used to think it meant that even the most blatantly ego-driven person would stop short of total destruction or total self-destruction. But this obviously is not true: one need only look at Hitler to see this.

But if there is no self-restraint, there is always restraint by the Sonship. Perhaps this is what is meant. Perhaps we should not look within any particular individual or timeframe for evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. The words of Gandhi seem helpful: “When I despair, I remember that all throughout history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS.”

Corollary to my earlier question: I am pretty much commenting on my own question about miscreation. When reading it over it is easy to see the trap I have fallen into. Hitler is not miscreating. It is the miscreating mind that is dreaming up an illusion in which these phenomena are necessary. Any cap or limit on the ability to miscreate does not consist of reigning in nonexistent madmen. The illusion which contains such madness can (and does) become insane without limit, the product of an insane mind. The cap or limit lies in the ultimate effect, power, and meaning of such miscreation — all nothing.

A: You’ve gone a long way toward answering your own musings. To that, a few further thoughts can be added. It cannot be overemphasized that the dualistic language of the Course is always metaphorical, as has been repeated many times throughout these answers (e.g., Questions #42#72#85 and #156). So when A Course in Miracles speaks of God placing a limit on our ability to miscreate, it’s a metaphor. God does nothing, He simply is (W.pI.169.5:1,4) . But it is the nature of the split mind that it must contain the memory of its oneness — identified as the Holy Spirit in the Course — because we can forget but we can never destroy our link with our Source. So the illusory ability to miscreate has nothing to do with God and is not something that He in any sense has even allowed, since in reality He is not aware of the illusion. For if He could be, the illusion would be real. But the correction for that illusory ability, also an illusion — the memory of oneness — is inherent in every seemingly fragmented mind, no matter what ego-driven insanity it may be projecting. And so that is one aspect of the limit on our miscreating — there is a part of each mind, outside of time and space, that knows otherwise.

In addition, a limit on our ability to miscreate follows inevitably from the fact that everything of the ego is finite, that is, with an end, since it was made to be the opposite of Heaven, which is eternal and infinite. It’s not that God has imposed any limit on us. It is simply inherent in the ego thought system, limited as it is by its very nature. Were the ego capable of miscreating infinitely or eternally — and the ego would like us to believe that it is — then God would have been replaced. And so the ego, as a thought of limitation, must be limited. We can play — relationship after relationship, lifetime after lifetime — in the illusion, but the number of possible relationships and lifetimes, finite as it is, will at some point be exhausted.

The Course offers the miracle as a means for shortening or limiting that finite amount of time (T.1.I.47; T.1.II.6) , by helping us to see that, despite all the different forms the ego offers, their content is always the same — sin, guilt and fear. And although the ego would like us to believe there is a hierarchy of illusions, Jesus is leading us to recognize that, at the level of content, a Hitler and a Gandhi are the same, for they reflect the same split mind, with both a wrong-minded and a right-minded component, and the power to choose between them. And we all share that same split mind, simply expressing its conflict as well as its healing in different, ultimately meaningless forms.

In the end, it is our intolerance for the pain and guilt of the ego thought system that will lead us each eventually to limit the miscreative capacity of the mind and turn to the miracle for relief. As Jesus says a few sentences after the lines you quote above, “Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit” (T.2.III.3:5). And it is our memory of oneness that helps us undo our belief in the reality of the separation and its effects, as we learn not to take them so seriously, no longer needing to defend against the guilt, but rather seeing through it.

By the way, an alternative perspective to the Gandhi quote about evil in the world, suggesting instead the ultimate hopelessness of the world, might be the following: “When I am hopeful, I remember that all throughout history the way of lies and hate has always re-emerged. There have been benevolent philosopher kings and saints for a time who seem to have made a difference, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, ALWAYS.” Jesus is encouraging us to look for real, meaningful change within our minds, not within the world (T.21.in.1:7) !

*

Q #1130I am confused by the following sentences in the text of A Course in Miracles : “You can temporize and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your Creator, Who set the limits on your ability to miscreate. An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable” (T.2.III.3:3,4). Who has our wills imprisoned? God?

A: We ourselves have imprisoned our wills by denying Who we really are. Our will is one with God’s, which means we want only what God wills see T.8.IV.7:1,2; T.11.III.3; T.14.III.14 ) In our present limited state, we cannot know precisely what that means, other than to say that our true function as God’s Son is creating with Him in Heaven — extending love without limit (W.pI.192.1) . Because we have denied Who we really are, we are not free to fulfill our true function, which can only lead to intolerable pain. We believe our wills are separate from God’s; for example, we believe He can ask us to do something we do not want to do. The same is true of Jesus — what he wants for us goes against what we will for ourselves, we sometimes think. We love specialness and don’t want to give it up; yet Jesus tells us that our investment in specialness prevents us from knowing the truth (T.24.II.4,5) . We are in a constant state of conflict and frustration as a result. As long as we believe we have our own separate identities, all we can do is mis create, deluding ourselves into thinking we are engaged in something valuable and commendable.

In the passages you cite, Jesus is teaching us that we can continue on in our false identities as separate from him and from God, but that choice will never make the separation and our individual selves reality. The truth of our oneness of will remains forever alive in our minds — buried, but not extinguished — and at some point, however long it takes, the deep, internal pain and frustration of knowing we are wrong about everything, especially about our very selves, will cause us to cry out for “a better way,” as Jesus states in the following sentences in the paragraph you cited (T.2.III.3:5,6,7) .

Asking his help is the first step out of our self-imposed imprisonment. Thus he teaches us: “By the belief that your will is separate from mine, you are exempting yourself from the Will of God which is yourself. . . . There is no separation of God and His creation. You will realize this when you understand that there is no separation between your will and mine. Let the Love of God shine upon you by your acceptance of me. My reality is yours and His. By joining your mind with mine you are signifying your awareness that the Will of God is One (T.8.V.2.3,8,9,10,11,12) .

be of good cheer

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 28

A Course in Miracles Text Reading for January 28

Chapter 2 ~ THE SEPARATION AND THE ATONEMENT

I. The Origins of Separation

To extend is a fundamental aspect of God which He gave to His Son. In the creation, God extended Himself to His creations and imbued them with the same loving Will to create. You have not only been fully created, but have also been created perfect. There is no emptiness in you. Because of your likeness to your Creator you are creative. No child of God can lose this ability because it is inherent in what he is, but he can use it inappropriately by projecting. The inappropriate use of extension, or projection, occurs when you believe that some emptiness or lack exists in you, and that you can fill it with your own ideas instead of truth. This process involves the following steps:

First, you believe that what God created can be changed by your own mind.

Second, you believe that what is perfect can be rendered imperfect or lacking.

Third, you believe that you can distort the creations of God, including yourself.

Fourth, you believe that you can create yourself, and that the direction of your own creation is up to you.

These related distortions represent a picture of what actually occurred in the separation, or the ‘detour into fear’. None of this existed before the separation, nor does it actually exist now. Everything God created is like Him. Extension, as undertaken by God, is similar to the inner radiance that the children of the Father inherit from Him. Its real source is internal. This is as true of the Son as of the Father. In this sense the creation includes both the creation of the Son by God, and the Son’s creations when his mind is healed. This requires God’s endowment of the Son with free will, because all loving creation is freely given in one continuous line, in which all aspects are of the same order.

The Garden of Eden, or the pre-separation condition, was a state of mind in which nothing was needed. When Adam listened to the ‘lies of the serpent’, all he heard was untruth. You do not have to continue to believe what is not true unless you choose to do so. All that can literally disappear in the twinkling of an eye because it is merely a misperception. What is seen in dreams seems to be very real. Yet the Bible says that a deep sleep fell upon Adam, and nowhere is there reference to his waking up. The world has not yet experienced any comprehensive reawakening or rebirth. Such a rebirth is impossible as long as you continue to project or miscreate. It still remains within you, however, to extend as God extended His Spirit to you. In reality this is your only choice, because your free will was given you for your joy in creating the perfect.

All fear is ultimately reducible to the basic misperception that you have the ability to usurp the power of God. Of course, you neither can nor have been able to do this. Here is the real basis for your escape from fear. The escape is brought about by your acceptance of the Atonement, which enables you to realise that your errors never really occurred. Only after the deep sleep fell upon Adam could he experience nightmares. If a light is suddenly turned on while someone is dreaming a fearful dream, he may initially interpret the light itself as part of his dream and be afraid of it. However, when he awakens, the light is correctly perceived as the release from the dream, which is then no longer accorded reality. This release does not depend on illusions. The knowledge that illuminates not only sets you free, but also shows you clearly that you are free.

Whatever lies you may believe are of no concern to the miracle, which can heal any of them with equal ease. It makes no distinctions among misperceptions. Its sole concern is to distinguish between truth on the one hand, and error on the other. Some miracles may seem to be of greater magnitude than others. But remember the first principle in this course; there is no order of difficulty in miracles. In reality you are perfectly unaffected by all expressions of lack of love. These can be from yourself and others, from yourself to others, or from others to you. Peace is an attribute in you. You cannot find it outside. Illness is some form of external searching. Health is inner peace. It enables you to remain unshaken by lack of love from without and capable, through your acceptance of miracles, of correcting the conditions proceeding from lack of love in others.

***

A Course in Miracles Workbook Lesson for January 28

Lesson 12

I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

The importance of this idea lies in the fact that it contains a correction for a major perceptual distortion. You think that what upsets you is a frightening world, or a sad world, or a violent world, or an insane world. All these attributes are given it by you. The world is meaningless in itself.

These exercises are done with eyes open. Look around you, this time quite slowly. Try to pace yourself so that the slow shifting of your glance from one thing to another involves a fairly constant time interval. Do not allow the time of the shift to become markedly longer or shorter, but try, instead, to keep a measured, even tempo throughout. What you see does not matter. You teach yourself this as you give whatever your glance rests on equal attention and equal time. This is a beginning step in learning to give them all equal value.

As you look about you, say to yourself:

I think I see a fearful world, a dangerous world, a hostile world,
a sad world, a wicked world, a crazy world,

and so on, using whatever descriptive terms happen to occur to you. If terms which seem positive rather than negative occur to you, include them. For example, you might think of “a good world,” or “a satisfying world.” If such terms occur to you, use them along with the rest. You may not yet understand why these “nice” adjectives belong in these exercises but remember that a “good world” implies a “bad” one, and a “satisfying world” implies an “unsatisfying” one. All terms which cross your mind are suitable subjects for today’s exercises. Their seeming quality does not matter.

Be sure that you do not alter the time intervals between applying today’s idea to what you think is pleasant and what you think is unpleasant. For the purposes of these exercises, there is no difference between them. At the end of the practice period, add:

But I am upset because I see a meaningless world.

What is meaningless is neither good nor bad. Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you? If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy. But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be. It is this you see in it. It is this that is meaningless in truth. Beneath your words is written the Word of God. The truth upsets you now, but when your words have been erased, you will see His. That is the ultimate purpose of these exercises.

Three or four times is enough for practicing the idea for today. Nor should the practice periods exceed a minute. You may find even this too long. Terminate the exercises whenever you experience a sense of strain.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #414: Please comment on the similarities and differences in the terms “belief” and “faith” as used in A Course in Miracles.

A: Simply put, what you put your faith in you then believe. Faith thus precedes belief. We never lack faith, for we always place our faith in either of two teachers: the ego or Jesus; and then we will believe what that teacher says. “It is impossible that the Son of God lack faith, but he can choose where he would have it be. Faithlessness is not a lack of faith, but faith in nothing. Faith given to illusions does not lack power, for by it does the Son of God believe that he is powerless. Thus is he faithless to himself, but strong in faith in his illusions about himself. For faith, perception and belief you made, as means for losing certainty and finding sin. This mad direction was your choice, and by your faith in what you chose, you made what you desired” (T.21.III.5).


Q #415: In the past, I have found ways to misuse A Course in Miracles for the purpose of conflict avoidance, and this has had the effect of demonstrating to some people that they hold power over me. Could you please explain the difference between allowing yourself to be used as a doormat, and what the Course is trying to teach in regard to dealing with situations where it’s necessary to be assertive, to acknowledge yourself as an equal in accord with God’s will?

A: Misusing the Course to avoid conflict is a common mistake among its students. This is a form of denial, and is in direct opposition to a very important goal of the Course, which is to teach us to pay attention to the conflict in our lives. This is one of the ways in which A Course in Miracles is a unique spiritual path. It tells us that by looking at conflict we learn to recognize the hidden, unconscious beliefs we hold about ourselves and others, all of which stem from the belief that the separation is real. Our conflicts are generally riddled with judgments, feelings, and thoughts, reflecting the conflict in our minds caused by the choice to believe the ego’s lies about who we are as bodies, thus denying our true Identity as God’s innocent Son. As long as we are unaware of this conflict in the mind, it cannot be brought to the Holy Spirit for healing. This is the purpose the Course gives to conflict in our lives, and it is the only way it can truly be resolved.

Because the Course is showing us the real source of conflict is the unhealed mind, it does not tell us how to deal with it on the level of form, to which you are referring. We are asked to be willing to recognize all the thoughts, beliefs and feelings that come up in any situation, seeing that they reflect the choice in the mind to identify with the ego thought system, and be willing to question them in the light of the Course’s teachings. We are not asked to do anything on the level of form. Trying to act in a way that seems spiritual or appears to be in accord with the metaphysical principles of the Course (i.e., keeping silent when mistreated) while still identifying with the ego’s thought system, is unproductive, and leaves you feeling like a doormat. That is certainly not the experience to which Jesus is leading us. Moreover, if you are a victim, there must be a victimizer, thereby reinforcing separation.

The Course tells us we are not only “equal”; we are one. We will know this when all the forms by which we perceive ourselves to be separate and different from one another have been forgiven. Until then, we continue to practice forgiveness. It is possible to assert yourself and remain faithful to the Course, because it is no different from doing any of the things you do to take care of yourself physically, emotionally or psychologically. Asserting yourself without attack is a way to acknowledge your need to be treated respectfully, as well as the other’s need for the same treatment, thereby reinforcing the belief that we have no separate interests. As long as we do believe we are bodies, we interact with others according to normal behavioral standards. This means not denying any of our feelings or perceived needs, which would only deprive us of opportunities to learn and to forgive. The Course cautions us very early in the text: “The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world…it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial”(T.2.IV.3:8,10,11).

the mind that serves spirit

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 27

ACIM Text Reading for January 27

A Course in MiraclesText – Chapter 1The Meaning of Miracles


VII. Distortions of Miracle ImpulsesYour distorted perceptions produce a dense cover over miracle impulses, making it hard for them to reach your own awareness. The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses is a major perceptual distortion. Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. All real pleasure comes from doing God’s will. This is because not doing it is a denial of self. Denial of self results in illusions, while correction of the error brings release from it. Do not deceive yourself into believing that you can relate in peace to God or to your brothers with anything external.

Child of God, you were created to create the good, the beautiful and the holy. Do not forget this. The love of God, for a little while, must still be expressed through one body to another, because vision is still so dim. You can use your body best to help you enlarge your perception so you can achieve real vision, of which the physical eye is incapable. Learning to do this is the body’s only true usefulness.

Fantasy is a distorted form of vision. Fantasies of any kind are distortions, because they always involve twisting perception into unreality. Actions that stem from distortions are literally the reactions of those who know not what they do. Fantasy is an attempt to control reality according to false needs. Twist reality in any way and you are perceiving destructively. Fantasies are a means of making false associations and attempting to obtain pleasure from them. But although you can perceive false associations, you can never make them real except to yourself. You believe in what you make. If you offer miracles, you will be equally strong in your belief in them. The strength of your conviction will then sustain the belief of the miracle receiver. Reality is “lost” through usurpation, which produces tyranny. As long as a single “slave” remains to walk the earth, your release is not complete. Complete restoration of the Sonship is the only goal of the miracle-minded.

This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it. However, as you study these earlier sections, you will begin to see some of the implications that will be amplified later on.

A solid foundation is necessary because of the confusion between fear and awe to which I have already referred, and which is often made. I have said that awe is inappropriate in connection with the Sons of God, because you should not experience awe in the presence of your equals. However, it was also emphasized that awe is proper in the Presence of your Creator. I have been careful to clarify my role in the Atonement without either over- or understating it. I am also trying to do the same with yours. I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific. Healing is of God in the end. The means are being carefully explained to you. Revelation may occasionally reveal the end to you, but to reach it the means are needed.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 27

Lesson 11

My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.

This is the first idea we have had that is related to a major phase of the correction process; the reversal of the thinking of the world. It seems as if the world determines what you perceive. Today’s idea introduces the concept that your thoughts determine the world you see. Be glad indeed to practice the idea in its initial form, for in this idea is your release made sure. The key to forgiveness lies in it.

The practice periods for today’s idea are to be undertaken somewhat differently from the previous ones. Begin with your eyes closed, and repeat the idea slowly to yourself. Then open your eyes and look about, near and far, up and down, —anywhere. During the minute or so to be spent in using the idea merely repeat it to yourself, being sure to do so without haste, and with no sense of urgency or effort.

To do these exercises for maximum benefit, the eyes should move from one thing to another fairly rapidly, since they should not linger on anything in particular. The words, however, should be used in an unhurried, even leisurely fashion. The introduction to this idea, in particular, should be practiced as casually as possible. It contains the foundation for the peace, relaxation and freedom from worry that we are trying to achieve. On concluding the exercises, close your eyes and repeat the idea once more slowly to yourself.

Three practice periods today will probably be sufficient. However, if there is little or no uneasiness and an inclination to do more, as many as five may be undertaken. More than this is not recommended.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #344: In A Course in Miracles T.1.VII.1 it reads…” Your distorted perceptions produce a dense cover over miracle impulses, making it hard for them to reach your own awareness. The confusion of miracle impulses with physical impulses is a major perceptual distortion. Physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses. All real pleasure comes from doing God’s Will. This is because not doing it is a denial of Self.” I read a similar question/answer already posted around sexual impulses…but my questions are slightly different and I need some help understanding these series of phrases referenced above: Is this a different way of saying that the decision-maker constantly is choosing between the right-mind and the wrong-mind, the Holy Spirit and the ego? If a miracle is forgiveness, or a reminder that what the body’s eyes see/perceive is false, then is a miracle impulse part of a corrective thought process from the Jesus/Holy Spirit in our mind?

A: Yes, your explanation is a good one. It may still be helpful to clarify why Jesus refers to “physical impulses” as “misdirected miracle impulses” and how our “distorted perceptions… cover over miracle impulses.” We were created to be in perfect joy without ceasing, and the split mind, despite its mistaken beliefs about who it is, still remembers that state of happiness indirectly, primarily through its acute awareness that it is desperately unhappy. And so it is impelled to seek to return to a state of peace and joy, our natural state.

The miracle impulse, or the tendency to choose a miracle, is motivated by the recognition that we are unhappy in our current state of apparent separation and deserve more than what we are presently experiencing. But more than that, the miracle leads to a recognition that the deprivation that we feel is self-imposed, that is, it reflects a choice we have made. The miracle is a natural tendency of the mind, for it is a step in returning the mind to its original state of wholeness and peace, with all conflict left behind. The miracle reminds the mind that it ismind, or cause, and not a body, or effect (T.28.II.9:3). So miracle impulses are thoughts of the Correction, which the Holy Spirit represents to us in our right mind, that remind us that what we think has happened — the separation from love and all the accompanying pain and guilt — has not really happened at all. And that recognition, when fully embraced, must spell the end for the ego and its symbolic expression, our individual self.

So the ego, unable to remove what motivates the miracle impulse — our desire to return to our natural state of peace and joy — must distort and disguise the impulse so that we fail to remember our role in what we are experiencing. For if we truly remembered, we would not remain identified with the ego and separation for long. And so, to prevent our changing our mind, the ego does not ask us to deny our state of unhappiness, but through its distorted perceptual lens, convinces us that our unhappiness has nothing to do with any choice we have made but rather is the result of being born a helpless body into a world over which we have no control. And so the ego acknowledges our unhappiness and the conflict we feel, but guides us to look outside ourselves — to others, to the world — rather than within to find the joy and the peace and the love. And the search is destined to fail because it denies Who we really are and what our real Source of happiness is. Nevertheless, when we seek for pleasure in any form for the body, which we mistakenly identify as ourselves, the seeking is still motivated by a recognition — albeit unconscious — that happiness is our natural state. This is the same recognition from which the miracle impulse arises, but the seeking is misdirected. And all seeking in the world, because it reinforces our belief in separation, denying the only Identity in which real joy can be found, must in the end result in pain. Thus, Jesus concludes that “all real pleasure comes [only] from doing God’s Will.”

*

Q #1211Could you please explain the following passage: “A solid foundation is necessary because of the confusion between fear and awe to which I have already referred, and which is often made. I have said that awe is inappropriate in connection with the Sons of God, because you should not experience awe in the presence of your equals. However, it was also emphasized that awe is proper in the Presence of your Creator. I have been careful to clarify my role in the Atonement without either over- or understating it. I am also trying to do the same with yours. I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific” (T.1.VII.5:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8).

A: Jesus first spoke of awe in the second section of Chapter 1, where he emphasized that it is not an appropriate reaction to him or to miracles: “You are a perfect creation, and should experience awe only in the Presence of the Creator of perfection. . . . Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality” (T.1.II.3:3,5). Jesus is thus setting the stage for developing a relationship with him, and correcting the traditional biblical view that he is God’s only beloved Son, and we are inferior to him. If we listen carefully to what he is saying and do what he says, we will learn to trust him as our loving brother, knowing that he is always there as a source of comfort and guidance in all things. We will be less and less afraid of him and his message as we learn he is simply reflecting back to us what we have denied about ourselves.

As we settle more into this relationship and become more comfortable with his message, we will be prepared for the steps he will ask us to take later. We just need to be humble and patient, and not try to jump quickly to the top of the spiritual ladder before we are really ready for that level. We will then be able to allow the memory of God into our awareness with a minimum amount of fear. It will feel more natural, and not something imposed on us. We will accept our love for Him as our Source and Creator, and His love for us as the extension of His Love. This awareness now inspires awe in us, as it should; but awe does not entail fear unless we still believe we are somehow separate from God.

Thus, at the very beginning of the text, Jesus is cautioning us not to rush our study and practice, and not try to make ourselves spiritual on our own. We must first learn how to deal with our egos and all the barriers we have erected between ourselves and God’s Presence. If we were ready to leap right back into Heaven, we would not be here thinking we are bodies in a real physical world. Patience, gentleness, humility, and trust are essential in these early stages of our work with A Course in Miracles .

*

Q #1348Chapter 1 of A Course in Miracles says: “This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it…. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God Himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific” (T.1.VII.4:1,2,3; 5:7,6,7,8).

The above quote implies that doing the Course could in certain ways turn out to be more traumatic than helpful. How seriously should we take the above “warning” from the Course’s author to properly prepare before we start the later parts of the Course, and how would we know that we are indeed “properly prepared” in order not to fall into the trap of confusing “fear with awe”? For instance, if we study the first few chapters of the Course, when would we know that we should move on in the text and/or move perhaps on to the workbook? Aren’t the first few chapters so abstract that it is indeed difficult to understand them before the rest of the Course? What am I missing here?

A: The two paragraphs you are referring to did not originally come at the end of Chapter 1. They were part of a longer message to Helen and Bill in which Jesus stressed the importance of studying the material he was giving them (see Absence from Felicity , pp. 251,52). In one sense, this would be true of any teacher-student relationship — the teacher would urge the students to study what is being taught. Since the curriculum of A Course in Miracles involves mind training, it would be important to apply oneself diligently to the study of the material in order to be prepared for later stages in the mind training that build on the earlier ones.

Jesus essentially is talking about approaching God and experiencing His Love. We have many layers of defenses “protecting” us from the experience of God, lest we lose our cherished sense of independent existence. Therefore, the early phases of study and training establish a foundation for this process, and begin it in ways that we can tolerate without falling into a disabling panic. This prepares us for subsequent phases that bring us closer to the experience that we originally rejected and still reject in our choice to be separate and autonomous individuals. We need to become acquainted with the thought system we will be undoing and have some idea of the obstacles we have placed in our way, otherwise we will not be able to properly process what happens after the phase of undoing. That is why Jesus wants us to study the material carefully. By “carefully” he would mean that we realize that he is speaking directly to us as we experience ourselves now. He is not simply presenting a series ideas and concepts that we can approach in an impersonal way. He wants us to get used to thinking about ourselves as he describes us in his course.

Thus, it is more of an attitude toward your study, not so much comprehension of everything he is saying in these first few chapters. As you have observed, there are parts of these chapters (and all of the remaining chapters for that matter) that are difficult to understand, but he does not expect us to grasp every word and all of the implications of the ideas. That is why he comes back to the basic principles over and over and restates them in different ways throughout the three books. Thus, the aim is not intellectual mastery of the text, but rather, combined with a serious attempt to understand the thought system he is unfolding, that we recognize that we are embarking on a journey with him that will eventually penetrate deeply into areas of our lives and minds that we have sought to keep concealed. This is best done slowly and with a growing awareness that there is a loving, comforting presence within us inviting us to hold his hand every step of the way so that the journey will lead to a beatific experience.

Finally, it is helpful to remember that “the curriculum is highly individualized” (M.29.2:6). Therefore, with regard to when to begin the workbook lessons, trust what you feel and don’t force anything. There is no right or wrong in such matters.

tiny mad idea

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 26

ACIM Text Reading for January 26

A Course in MiraclesText – Chapter 1The Meaning of Miracles


VI. The Illusion of NeedsYou who want peace can find it only by complete forgiveness. No learning is acquired by anyone unless he wants to learn it and believes in some way that he needs it. While lack does not exist in the creation of God, it is very apparent in what you have made. It is, in fact, the essential difference between them. Lack implies that you would be better off in a state somehow different from the one you are in. Until the “separation,” which is the meaning of the “fall,” nothing was lacking. There were no needs at all. Needs arise only when you deprive yourself. You act according to the particular order of needs you establish. This, in turn, depends on your perception of what you are.

A sense of separation from God is the only lack you really need correct. This sense of separation would never have arisen if you had not distorted your perception of truth, and had thus perceived yourself as lacking. The idea of order of needs arose because, having made this fundamental error, you had already fragmented yourself into levels with different needs. As you integrate you become one, and your needs become one accordingly. Unified needs lead to unified action, because this produces a lack of conflict.

The idea of orders of need, which follows from the original error that one can be separated from God, requires correction at its own level before the error of perceiving levels at all can be corrected. You cannot behave effectively while you function on different levels. However, while you do, correction must be introduced vertically from the bottom up. This is because you think you live in space, where concepts such as “up” and “down” are meaningful. Ultimately, space is as meaningless as time. Both are merely beliefs.

The real purpose of this world is to use it to correct your unbelief. You can never control the effects of fear yourself, because you made fear, and you believe in what you made. In attitude, then, though not in content, you resemble your Creator, Who has perfect faith in his creations because he created them. Belief produces the acceptance of existence. That is why you can believe what no one else thinks is true. It is true for you because it was made by you.

All aspects of fear are untrue because they do not exist at the creative level, and therefore do not exist at all. To whatever extent you are willing to submit your beliefs to this test, to that extent are your perceptions corrected. In sorting out the false from the true, the miracle proceeds along these lines:

Perfect love casts out fear.
If fear exists,
Then there is not perfect love.

But:

Only perfect love exists.
If there is fear,
It produces a state that does not exist.

Believe this and you will be free. Only God can establish this solution, and this faith is his gift.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 26

Lesson 10

My thoughts do not mean anything.

This idea applies to all the thoughts of which you are aware, or become aware in the practice periods. The reason the idea is applicable to all of them is that they are not your real thoughts. We have made this distinction before, and will do so again. You have no basis for comparison as yet. When you do, you will have no doubt that what you once believed were your thoughts did not mean anything.

This is the second time we have used this kind of idea. The form is only slightly different. This time the idea is introduced with “My thoughts” instead of “These thoughts,” and no link is made overtly with the things around you. The emphasis is now on the lack of reality of what you think you think.

This aspect of the correction process began with the idea that the thoughts of which you are aware are meaningless, outside rather than within; and then stressed their past rather than their present status. Now we are emphasizing that the presence of these “thoughts” means that you are not thinking. This is merely another way of repeating our earlier statement that your mind is really a blank. To recognize this is to recognize nothingness when you think you see it. As such, it is the prerequisite for vision.

Close your eyes for these exercises, and introduce them by repeating the idea for today quite slowly to yourself. Then add:

This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

The exercises consist, as before, in searching your mind for all the thoughts that are available to you, without selection or judgment. Try to avoid classification of any kind. In fact, if you find it helpful to do so, you might imagine that you are watching an oddly assorted procession going by, which has little if any personal meaning to you. As each one crosses your mind, say:

My thought about ___ does not mean anything.
My thought about ___ does not mean anything.

Today’s thought can obviously serve for any thought that distresses you at any time. In addition, five practice periods are recommended, each involving no more than a minute or so of mind searching. It is not recommended that this time period be extended, and it should be reduced to half a minute or less if you experience discomfort. Remember, however, to repeat the idea slowly before applying it specifically, and also to add:

This idea will help to release me from all that I now believe.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #375: What is the meaning of “correction must be introduced vertically from the bottom up” (T.1.VI.3:3)?

A: In several places in the Course, Jesus uses the metaphor of a ladder to talk about our separating from God and then the process of undoing that separation. Our choice to separate from God initiated a series of dynamics that led us all the way down to the bottom of the ladder, which is what we now experience as our selves and our lives. Our return, therefore, must begin with where we are, and then with the Jesus gently guiding us, we go back up the ladder step by step until we reach the top: “…salvation will proceed to change the course of every step in the descent to separation, until all the steps have been retraced, the ladder gone, and all the dreaming of the world undone.…What waits for you in perfect certainty beyond salvation is not our concern. For you have barely started to allow your first, uncertain steps to be directed up the ladder separation led you down. The miracle alone is your concern at present. Here is where we must begin” (T.28.II.12:7; III.1:1,2,3,4).

Thus the correction is focused on our present experience as bodies in a physical world. That is why we need to be vigilant about not skipping steps by denying our bodies or our physical experience in an attempt to jump from the bottom of the ladder right to the top. Any healing we would experience if we did that would be short-lived, because the underlying guilt would remain. The healing process starts with our experiences as individual physical beings because that is what we believe we are, otherwise we would not be having those experiences. “The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand, and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within” (T.18.I.9:3).

*

Q #177: Is it necessary to comprehend the mythology in order to begin study of A Course in Miracles, and to use the principles of the Course properly? I have great trouble with the metaphysics of the Course surrounding the origin of guilt yet the practical applications of the Course (i.e., choosing the ego or Jesus as your teacher) seem logical and helpful. Can I truly practice forgiveness as the Course defines it if I don’t really accept the Course’s mythology surrounding the origin of the world?

A: The benefit of practicing forgiveness is that we will feel better, because we will be letting go of the pain of self-deception involved in blaming others for our problems. It is practical in that sense. And it is very comforting to know that there is a loving, wise teacher within, of whom we can always ask help. We can go along nicely with that for quite some time, and even stay on that level indefinitely if we so choose. The Course can be used that way, and be of tremendous personal benefit and comfort. The metaphysical principles of the Course are not needed to experience the gentle guidance of Jesus, and to withdraw our projections of guilt onto others. If staying on that level brings one closer to God, what could be wrong with it?

But since you specifically mentioned “forgiveness as the Course defines it,” it is necessary to go further. And so we will. The beginning and the end of the Introduction to the workbook shed some further light on this. Jesus begins by talking about the relationship between the text and the workbook: “A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in the workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of the workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth” (W.in.1).

At the end of the Introduction to the workbook (W.in.8,9), Jesus acknowledges the problems of credulity and resistance we probably will run into regarding the ideas and concepts presented in the lessons. And his advice to us is to concentrate only on using and applying the ideas exactly as he directs us to do, without judging them or evaluating them, because their meaning and their truth will be manifested to us through our using them.

The implication would seem to be that somewhere along the line, the student is going to come face-to-face with the theoretical principles of the Course. For example, as it becomes clear that forgiveness means forgiving the other person for what he did not do — a truly startling, deeply challenging statement — we are led ultimately to question the reality of guilt itself. That would take us directly to the metaphysical dimension of the Course. Indeed, the Course’s view of forgiveness cannot be fully appreciated without being aware of its metaphysical underpinnings. It would be too easy to slide into the traditional view of forgiving what truly happened if the illusory nature of sin and guilt were not an integral part of one’s thinking and approach to grievances.

The answer to your question, therefore, is both yes and no. One can benefit from practicing forgiveness and turning to Jesus for guidance; but the process of forgiveness as presented in the Course would be short-circuited and not fully appreciated if the Course’s theory of the origin of guilt were ignored. If this theory were explicitly not accepted, it would make the practice of the Course’s version of forgiveness impossible.

the journey to god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 25

ACIM Text Reading for January 25

A Course in MiraclesText – Chapter 1The Meaning of Miracles


V. Wholeness and SpiritThe miracle is much like the body in that both are learning aids for facilitating a state in which they become unnecessary. When spirit’s original state of direct communication is reached, neither the body nor the miracle serves any purpose. While you believe you are in a body, however, you can choose between loveless and miraculous channels of expression. You can make an empty shell, but you cannot express nothing at all. You can wait, delay, paralyze yourself, or reduce your creativity almost to nothing. But you cannot abolish it. You can destroy your medium of communication, but not your potential. You did not create yourself.

The basic decision of the miracle-minded is not to wait on time any longer than is necessary. Time can waste as well as be wasted. The miracle worker, therefore, accepts the time-control factor gladly. He recognizes that every collapse of time brings everyone closer to the ultimate release from time, in which the Son and the Father are One. Equality does not imply equality now. When everyone recognizes that he has everything, individual contributions to the Sonship will no longer be necessary.

When the Atonement has been completed, all talents will be shared by all the Sons of God. God is not partial. All his children have his total love, and all his gifts are freely given to everyone alike. “Except ye become as little children” means that unless you fully recognize your complete dependence on God, you cannot know the real power of the Son in his true relationship with the Father. The specialness of God’s Sons does not stem from exclusion but from inclusion. All my brothers are special. If they believe they are deprived of anything, their perception becomes distorted. When this occurs the whole family of God, or the Sonship, is impaired in its relationships.

Ultimately, every member of the family of God must return. The miracle calls him to return because it blesses and honors him, even though he may be absent in spirit. “God is not mocked” is not a warning but a reassurance. God would be mocked if any of his creations lacked holiness. The creation is whole, and the mark of wholeness is holiness. Miracles are affirmations of Sonship, which is a state of completion and abundance.

Whatever is true is eternal, and cannot change or be changed. Spirit is therefore unalterable because it is already perfect, but the mind can elect what it chooses to serve. The only limit put on its choice is that it cannot serve two masters. If it elects to do so, the mind can become the medium by which spirit creates along the line of its own creation. If it does not freely elect to do so, it retains its creative potential but places itself under tyrannous rather than Authoritative control. As a result it imprisons, because such are the dictates of tyrants. To change your mind means to place it at the disposal of true Authority.

The miracle is a sign that the mind has chosen to be led by me in Christ’s service. The abundance of Christ is the natural result of choosing to follow him. All shallow roots must be uprooted, because they are not deep enough to sustain you. The illusion that shallow roots can be deepened, and thus made to hold, is one of the distortions on which the reverse of the Golden Rule rests. As these false underpinnings are given up, the equilibrium is temporarily experienced as unstable. However, nothing is less stable than an upside-down orientation. Nor can anything that holds it upside down be conducive to increased stability.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 25

Lesson 9

I see nothing as it is now.

This idea obviously follows from the two preceding ones. But while you may be able to accept it intellectually, it is unlikely that it will mean anything to you as yet. However, understanding is not necessary at this point. In fact, the recognition that you do not understand is a prerequisite for undoing your false ideas. These exercises are concerned with practice, not with understanding. You do not need to practice what you already understand. It would indeed be circular to aim at understanding, and assume that you have it already.

It is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what it seems to picture is not there. This idea can be quite disturbing, and may meet with active resistance in any number of forms. Yet that does not preclude applying it. No more than that is required for these or any other exercises. Each small step will clear a little of the darkness away, and understanding will finally come to lighten every corner of the mind that has been cleared of the debris that darkens it.

These exercises, for which three or four practice periods are sufficient, involve looking about you and applying the idea for the day to whatever you see, remembering the need for its indiscriminate application, and the essential rule of excluding nothing. For example:

I do not see this typewriter as it is now.
I do not see this telephone as it is now.
I do not see this arm as it is now.

Begin with things that are nearest you, and then extend the range outward:

I do not see that coat rack as it is now.
I do not see that door as it is now.
I do not see that face as it is now.

It is emphasized again that while complete inclusion should not be attempted, specific exclusion must be avoided. Be sure you are honest with yourself in making this distinction. You may be tempted to obscure it.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #342: Lately, I have noticed that I experience a lot of rejection in life. I have difficulty belonging and increasingly cannot see how to navigate a world which seems so shallow. Everything seems, especially now, to be reliant on privilege, money, looks, age, class, race, influence, brains or ability. I feel a lot of love, but feel no incentive to get nearer to people’s egos. I feel safe this way. Nothing to date can really convince me to be otherwise. Nevertheless this has become painful. I have a few friends yet it is lonely. I must be misinterpreting A Course in Miracles. Also, I thought it was good to have boundaries (walls). Any ideas?

A: You’re recognizing how painful, empty and meaningless the world of our egos is, and this can be a helpful but nevertheless very disconcerting realization. But you don’t want to stop with this insight without taking the next step, for you have not yet completely switched teachers. For it is only the ego that judges and fears other egos. While you remain where you currently find yourself, differences still seem very real and rejection based on those differences almost unavoidable. And so it seems safety can be found only in withdrawal from the world. Yet isolating yourself only reinforces the belief in differences and separation in your mind, which must be experienced as very painful. It makes the error real — very serious and threatening — which is the ego’s only goal.

And so you want help in seeing the world of differences differently, and above all, in coming to recognize the real source of the meaning your own mind is giving to those differences, so that you can be open to a different, more gentle way of looking at the world and yourself. As contrary to our conscious beliefs about ourselves as it may seem, the truth is that we all unconsciously want to be rejected, so that the responsibility for rejection rests outside of ourselves (T.7.VII.8) and we don’t have to look at the choice for rejection that we have first made and then buried in our own minds.

The initial rejection was our rejection of God through our desire to be separate and apart from Him and His All-Encompassing Love. As a result of that choice, we seem to have deprived ourselves of love, a very painful state. We have rejected not only God, but our true Self, the Christ, Who is forever one with the Father. Without separation, rejection would be impossible, for there would be nothing outside to reject. In fact. “the separation is the notion of rejection…. Any split in mind must involve a rejection of part of it, and this is the belief in separation” (T.6.I.18:4; T.6.II.1:1).

Now, in reality, we can neither reject God nor ourselves, but we can believe that we have and convince ourselves that we are very sinful and guilty for that choice — and vulnerable to counterattack as punishment for our choice. And so we made up a world onto which we project the attack and guilt, as well as a self that can be rejected by that world, never remembering where the thought of rejection originated. And now we can protest our innocence, for clearly it is others who are doing the rejecting (T.7.VII.9). The Course’s purpose is to get us in touch with this self- deceiving dynamic, where we project responsibility for rejection on to others.

And so it is not with our external relationships that we want to seek changes, but rather with our internal relationships. We want to learn to reject the ego and its erroneous interpretations of what seems to be happening to us and turn instead to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, Who will help us understand what our ego has been up to. Those external relationships that seem to be the cause of feelings of rejection are nothing more than the effects of an inner decision to continue to hold on to the belief in separation and rejection. And so they are helpful triggers for directing us inward to where the real healing work needs to happen. So to avoid relationships in the world would be to avoid the opportunities to uncover and heal the guilt within — exactly what the ego wants!

Now this does not mean you should force yourself to be in situations that you find uncomfortable or painful, where rejection by others is certain. Before we remember that we are really a part of the boundless Love that created us as Christ, boundaries in our external relationships can be very helpful as we learn to trust our inner Teacher and become more comfortable at looking at our judgments of ourselves and others. But as the willingness to look within and heal the darkness there increases, the fear of rejection from outside must diminish, as will the need for boundaries. For “only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible” (T.3.VI.9:1).

*

Q #820The first miracle principle in A Course in Miracles is that “there is no order of difficulty in Miracles.” Does that not mean, if I did the workbook “properly”, I would be able to be “enlightened” with each and every exercise I am doing in the Course (so 365 chances to reach God)? Do they not mean all the same (i.e. point at the same unspeakable “thing” that the Course can but lead us to but never explicitly say)? The lessons 70-75 seem quite crucial to me, what else is there to learn after “the light has come” and I can “celebrate the ending of the long dream of disaster”? Once I have forgiven the world completely (albeit theoretically), does it not disappear and with God’s vision in me…why is this passage not at the end of the workbook?

A: If you did just one lesson perfectly, you would have completed the goal of the Course.

However, the reason there are 31 chapters and 365 lessons is summed up simply in one of the les­sons: “To say these words [of any lesson] is nothing. But to mean these words is everything. If you could but mean them for just an instant, there would be no further sorrow possible for you in any form; in any place or time. Heaven would be completely given back to full aware­ness, memory of God entirely restored, the resurrection of all creation fully recognized” (W.pI.185.1:1,2,3,4). If we have not had the experienced described in this passage, we may con­clude that we have not meant these words completely , not even for an instant. Commitment is still weak, resistance is strong, and willingness wavers. In other words, we are afraid of awakening to the truth. And so we have at least 365 thousand opportunities to learn to accept that we are home in God. On the journey, there are glimpses of the light that has come, and if the light were the only thing we wanted, yes, it would be enough. However, attraction to guilt and attachment to special­ness drop a veil to obscure the light, lest it remain to replace the individual autonomy that is still cherished. That is why there are lessons after 70-75, and why the workbook ends by telling us we’ve only just begun: “This course is a beginning, not an end” (W.ep.I:1). 

Forgiving the world theoretically does not accomplish the Course’s goal of removing the blocks to love’s awareness (T.in.1:7) . The world must actually be forgiven, which means not seeing in it the cause of anything that is experienced in the dream of separation. And you are correct; in this there is no hierarchy. Thus, we are taught in the Course to “question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning.” (T.24.in.2:1,2; italics added ). The values and beliefs that sustain the ego thought system are, for the most part, hidden under layers of denial. It therefore takes time, lessons, starts and stops, to bring them to the light. The process is gradual and gentle because fear and resistance are great: “It is difficult for the untrained mind to believe that what it seems to picture is not there. This idea can be quite disturbing, and may meet with active resistance in any number of forms” (W.pI.9.2:1,2). A brief review of how real the world, the body, and the drama of life seem to be reveals the intensity of this resistance. That is why there is still work to be done, forgiveness les­sons to be learned. The workbook is done “properly” by following the instructions, which simply tell us to just do the lessons (W.in.9) . We are told only willingness is necessary. Most likely that is because Jesus knows we will do them “badly,” and he assures us that our imperfection is not a problem: “It is [the Holy Spirit’s] task to atone for your unwillingness by His perfect faith, and it is His faith you share with Him there. Out of your recognition of your unwillingness for your release, His perfect willingness is given you (T.16.VI.12:4,5). Thus, each sincere application of the principles of forgiveness in our relationships, however imperfect it may be, brings us closer to the ending of the dream. Our concern in practicing the Course, therefore, is to be vigilant for every spot of darkness (judgments) and every illusion we choose to make real, that they may be questioned and found wanting. Until we are convinced none of them will meet our real need to accept the truth about ourselves instead of the ego’s lies, we need the lessons of the workbook and the many pages of the text to turn to for guidance, instruction, and comfort.

hostage or host

 

 

 

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 24

ACIM Text Reading for January 24

A Course in MiraclesText – Chapter 1The Meaning of Miracles


IV. The Escape from DarknessThe escape from darkness involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness cannot hide. This step usually entails fear. Second, the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide even if you could. This step brings escape from fear. When you have become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter into communion but will also understand peace and joy.

Holiness can never be really hidden in darkness, but you can deceive yourself about it. This deception makes you fearful because you realize in your heart it is a deception, and you exert enormous efforts to establish its reality. The miracle sets reality where it belongs. Reality belongs only to spirit, and the miracle acknowledges only truth. It thus dispels illusions about yourself, and puts you in communion with yourself and God. The miracle joins in the Atonement by placing the mind in the service of the Holy Spirit. This establishes the proper function of the mind and corrects its errors, which are merely lacks of love. Your mind can be possessed by illusions, but spirit is eternally free. If a mind perceives without love, it perceives an empty shell and is unaware of the spirit within. But the Atonement restores spirit to its proper place. The mind that serves spirit is invulnerable.

Darkness is lack of light as sin is lack of love. It has no unique properties of its own. It is an example of the “scarcity” belief, from which only error can proceed. Truth is always abundant. Those who perceive and acknowledge that they have everything have no needs of any kind. The purpose of the Atonement is to restore everything to you; or rather, to restore it to your awareness. You were given everything when you were created, just as everyone was.

The emptiness engendered by fear must be replaced by forgiveness. That is what the Bible means by “There is no death,” and why I could demonstrate that death does not exist. I came to fulfill the law by reinterpreting it. The law itself, if properly understood, offers only protection. It is those who have not yet changed their minds who brought the “hell-fire” concept into it. I assure you that I will witness for anyone who lets me, and to whatever extent he permits it. Your witnessing demonstrates your belief, and thus strengthens it. Those who witness for me are expressing, through their miracles, that they have abandoned the belief in deprivation in favor of the abundance they have learned belongs to them.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 24

Lesson 8

My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

This idea is, of course, the reason why you see only the past. No one really sees anything. He sees only his thoughts projected outward. The mind’s preoccupation with the past is the cause of the misconception about time from which your seeing suffers. Your mind cannot grasp the present, which is the only time there is. It therefore cannot understand time, and cannot, in fact, understand anything.

The one wholly true thought one can hold about the past is that it is not here. To think about it at all is therefore to think about illusions. Very few have realized what is actually entailed in picturing the past or in anticipating the future. The mind is actually blank when it does this, because it is not really thinking about anything.

The purpose of the exercises for today is to begin to train your mind to recognize when it is not really thinking at all. While thoughtless ideas preoccupy your mind, the truth is blocked. Recognizing that your mind has been merely blank, rather than believing that it is filled with real ideas, is the first step to opening the way to vision.

The exercises for today should be done with eyes closed. This is because you actually cannot see anything, and it is easier to recognize that no matter how vividly you may picture a thought, you are not seeing anything. With as little investment as possible, search your mind for the usual minute or so, merely noting the thoughts you find there. Name each one by the central figure or theme it contains, and pass on to the next. Introduce the practice period by saying:

I seem to be thinking about ___.

Then name each of your thoughts specifically, for example:

I seem to be thinking about [name of a person], about [name of an object], about [name of an emotion],

and so on, concluding at the end of the mind-searching period with:

But my mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.

This can be done four or five times during the day, unless you find it irritates you. If you find it trying, three or four times is sufficient. You might find it helpful, however, to include your irritation, or any emotion that the idea for today may induce, in the mind searching itself.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #966: “Miracles you are not asked to perform have not lost their value” (T.1.III.8:3). I cannot seem to grasp the meaning of this sentence, although I feel the meaning of the rest of the text in 8 and 9.

A: The basic idea is that the content is always there in our minds; it may not find expression right now, but it is never lost. There is a beautiful song-like rendering of this idea later in Chapter 5 — the first one of its kind in A Course in Miracles “I have saved all your kindnesses and every loving thought you ever had. I have purified them of the errors that hid their light, and kept them for you in their own perfect radiance. They are beyond destruction and beyond guilt. They came from the Holy Spirit within you, and we know what God creates is eternal” (T.5.IV.8:3,4,5,6).

*

Q #1357: In the text of A Course in Miracles Jesus tells us to ask him before we perform a miracle (T.1.III.4:3). I don’t understand what I would do that would require me to ask Jesus if I should do it. Is there another process that I will be doing in the future that I don’t understand yet?

A: The central theme of the early principles and the first chapter in the text that you refer to is that miracles shift our perception, and that is why they heal. The focus of our attention, however, is almost always on our bodies — our planning and activities almost always center on what is good or not good for bodies. Therefore, right at the beginning of the text Jesus begins to train us to focus differently — not on our bodies, but on the choices we are making in our minds, because those choices are the root of both our problems and their solution. Later he thus urges us, “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7) .

The primary means of changing our focus from the external to the internal in the early stages of our work with the Course is to learn to ask Jesus’ help before we act. This gradually gets us out of the habit of assuming we know what is best for ourselves and others — that we know which miracles to perform, in other words. Thus, it not so much about doing something, but about gradually learning to focus on the purpose we have chosen in our minds for what we are doing. Jesus is teaching us that what we do is not important in terms of our spiritual journey; it is the choice of teacher we have made in our minds to guide us in what we do that is important. That choice, and that choice alone, is what will keep us asleep in the dream of separation from God or help us realize that we are the dreamers of that dream, which will eventually lead us to awaken from it entirely.

*

Q #997Toward the beginning of the text, Jesus says that miracles are directed toward those who can “use them for themselves” and he also comments that only he is in a position to know “where they can be bestowed.” What I don’t get is: Aren’t they needed everywhere? Couldn’t everyone walking this earth in pain use miracles for themselves? Jesus seems to hint that only some people need miracles. Can you explain?

A: When reading A Course in Miracles , it is very helpful to remember that Jesus frequently speaks to us in a poetic, symbolic way. Taken out of context, his words can, at times, seem to contradict the overall message of the Course. However, the more we study the Course, the clearer it becomes that he is not contradicting himself but rather restating the same themes over and over again with slight variations, hoping that, at some point, what he is trying to tell us will sink in. With that in mind, let us take a look at the two statements you asked about.

Both of these statements come in Chapter 1 when Jesus is explaining what he means by the term miracle . Most of us have always thought of miracles as an extraordinary event in the external, physical world. Jesus lets us know that in the context of the Course, a miracle is solely a shift in perception from the ego’s thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, to the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness. In other words, a miracle is an entirely internal event happening only in the mind and having nothing to do with the world. Miracles may seem to have results in this world, but this is a reflection of the miracle, or changed thinking, not the miracle itself.

You are right that anyone who believes that he or she is here could use a miracle. That, in fact, is exactly what Jesus is trying to tell us. When he says, “Miracles are selective only in the sense that they are directed towards those who can use them for themselves” (T.1.III.9:1), he is not implying that miracles are available only to some people. Indeed, he implies exactly the opposite by beginning the sentence with “miracles are selective only in the sense…” He is letting us know that there is just one sense in which miracles are not universal, and that is in the form the miracle or correction takes within our thinking.

While the content of a miracle is always a shift from thoughts that project guilt to thoughts that extend love, the specific correction thought will always show up in our mind in a way ideally suited to remedy the specific thought that made correction necessary. For example, I may need to forgive an abusive parent while you may need to forgive a partner by whom you felt betrayed. Both of us, in the midst of our pain, could turn to Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our mind and ask to see things differently. Both of us would then find ourselves accessing forgiveness thoughts that applied to our specific struggle. If we wanted to get technical, we could say that even within our own thinking, the form the correction seems to take is really the reflection of the miracle or shift, not the miracle itself. But this is more technically precise than Jesus needed to be at this point in the text.

Jesus also states, “That the miracle may have effects on your brothers that you may not recognize is not your concern. … the action aspect of the miracle should be controlled by me because of my complete awareness of the whole plan. The impersonal nature of miracle- mindedness ensures your grace, but only I am in a position to know where they can be bestowed.” (T.1.III.8:1, 4, 5). He is not implying that there are people who do not need miracles. He is simply telling us that although the miracle is a shift in our mind, we should not try to control miracles, decide when they are needed, or determine how they will express themselves. We should ask him, as our wiser internal teacher, to make such decisions.

Again, A Course in Miracles becomes much easier to understand if we approach it like poetry or a symphony rather than a precise, scientific report. When we focus too heavily on the words, the Course can seem (to borrow Jesus’ imagery) like nothing more than scattered threads of melody. But when we join with him — moving beyond its words to connect with the love that inspired them — we will see how those scattered threads of melody form one inclusive chorus (T.31.VIII.11:5) .

kingdom of god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 23

ACIM Text Reading for January 23

Chapter 1 ~ The Meaning of Miracles

III. Atonement and Miracles

I am in charge of the process of Atonement, which I undertook to begin. When you offer a miracle to any of my brothers, you do it to yourself and me. The reason you come before me is that I do not need miracles for my own Atonement, but I stand at the end in case you fail temporarily. My part in the Atonement is the canceling out of all errors that you could not otherwise correct. When you have been restored to the recognition of your original state, you naturally become part of the Atonement yourself. As you share my unwillingness to accept error in yourself and others, you must join the great crusade to correct it; listen to my voice, learn to undo error and act to correct it. The power to work miracles belongs to you. I will provide the opportunities to do them, but you must be ready and willing. Doing them will bring conviction in the ability, because conviction comes through accomplishment. The ability is the potential, the achievement is its expression, and the Atonement, which is the natural profession of the children of God, is the purpose.

“Heaven and earth shall pass away” means that they will not continue to exist as separate states. My word, which is the resurrection and the life, shall not pass away because life is eternal. You are the work of God, and his work is wholly lovable and wholly loving. This is how a man must think of himself in his heart, because this is what he is.

The forgiven are the means of the Atonement. Being filled with spirit, they forgive in return. Those who are released must join in releasing their brothers, for this is the plan of the Atonement. Miracles are the way in which minds that serve the Holy Spirit unite with me for the salvation or release of all of God’s creations.

I am the only one who can perform miracles indiscriminately, because I am the Atonement. You have a role in the Atonement which I will dictate to you. Ask me which miracles you should perform. This spares you needless effort, because you will be acting under direct communication. The impersonal nature of the miracle is an essential ingredient, because it enables me to direct its application, and under my guidance miracles lead to the highly personal experience of revelation. A guide does not control but he does direct, leaving it up to you to follow. “Lead us not into temptation” means “Recognize your errors and choose to abandon them by following my guidance. ”

Error cannot really threaten truth, which can always withstand it. Only the error is actually vulnerable. You are free to establish your kingdom where you see fit, but the right choice is inevitable if you remember this:

Spirit is in a state of grace forever.
Your reality is only spirit.
Therefore you are in a state of grace forever.
Atonement undoes all errors in this respect, and thus uproots the source of fear. Whenever you experience God’s reassurances as threat, it is always because you are defending misplaced or misdirected loyalty. When you project this to others you imprison them, but only to the extent to which you reinforce errors they have already made. This makes them vulnerable to the distortions of others, since their own perception of themselves is distorted. The miracle worker can only bless them, and this undoes their distortions and frees them from prison.

You respond to what you perceive, and as you perceive so shall you behave. The Golden Rule asks you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This means that the perception of both must be accurate. The Golden Rule is the rule for appropriate behavior. You cannot behave appropriately unless you perceive correctly. Since you and your neighbor are equal members of one family, as you perceive both so you will do to both. You should look out from the perception of your own holiness to the holiness of others.

Miracles arise from a mind that is ready for them. By being united this mind goes out to everyone, even without the awareness of the miracle worker himself. The impersonal nature of miracles is because the Atonement itself is one, uniting all creations with their Creator. As an expression of what you truly are, the miracle places the mind in a state of grace. The mind then naturally welcomes the host within and the stranger without. When you bring in the stranger, he becomes your brother.

That the miracle may have effects on your brothers that you may not recognize is not your concern. The miracle will always bless you. Miracles you are not asked to perform have not lost their value. They are still expressions of your own state of grace, but the action aspect of the miracle should be controlled by me because of my complete awareness of the whole plan. The impersonal nature of miracle-mindedness ensures your grace, but only I am in a position to know where they can be bestowed.

Miracles are selective only in the sense that they are directed towards those who can use them for themselves. Since this makes it inevitable that they will extend them to others, a strong chain of Atonement is welded. However, this selectivity takes no account of the magnitude of the miracle itself, because the concept of size exists on a plane that is itself unreal. Since the miracle aims at restoring the awareness of reality, it would not be useful if it were bound by laws that govern the error it aims to correct.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 23

Lesson 7

I see only the past.

This idea is particularly difficult to believe at first. Yet it is the rationale for all of the preceding ones.

It is the reason why nothing that you see means anything.
It is the reason why you have given everything you see all the meaning that it has for you.
It is the reason why you do not understand anything you see.
It is the reason why your thoughts do not mean anything, and why they are like the things you see.
It is the reason why you are never upset for the reason you think.
It is the reason why you are upset because you see something that is not there.

Old ideas about time are very difficult to change, because everything you believe is rooted in time, and depends on your not learning these new ideas about it. Yet that is precisely why you need new ideas about time. This first time idea is not really so strange as it may sound at first.

Look at a cup, for example. Do you see a cup, or are you merely reviewing your past experiences of picking up a cup, being thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling the rim of a cup against your lips, having breakfast and so on? Are not your aesthetic reactions to the cup, too, based on past experiences? How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it? What do you know about this cup except what you learned in the past? You would have no idea what this cup is, except for your past learning. Do you, then, really see it?

Look about you. This is equally true of whatever you look at. Acknowledge this by applying the idea for today indiscriminately to whatever catches your eye. For example:

I see only the past in this pencil.
I see only the past in this shoe.
I see only the past in this hand.
I see only the past in that body.
I see only the past in that face.

Do not linger over any one thing in particular, but remember to omit nothing specifically. Glance briefly at each subject, and then move on to the next. Three or four practice periods, each to last a minute or so, will be enough.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #482: What does the Introduction to A Course in Miracles mean by “It is a required Course?” Isn’t the Course supposed to be just one of the “ways” to regain truth?

A: The specific context for this phrase is related in Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles by Kenneth Wapnick. In a somewhat humorous dialogue between Helen and Jesus, Helen expresses some resistance to the Course by calling it an “elective.” Jesus responds that no, “it’s a definite requirement” in both form and content for Helen (p.215, second edition).

What is universally required is the content of the Course’s teaching, not the form. The many “ways” or paths to truth are different forms. Everyone will ultimately accept the truth and return to God. There is nothing but the truth, and nowhere else to go but to our true home in Heaven. However, how we get there may vary. The manual offers a helpful clarification: “There is a course for every teacher of God. The form of the course varies greatly. So do the particular teaching aids involved. But the content of the course never changes. Its central theme is always, “God’s Son is guiltless, and in his innocence is his salvation …This is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome” (M.1.3:1,2,3,4,5,4:1,2).

It may be helpful to remember that the different forms do not necessarily refer to what are usually considered to be religions or spiritual paths. As stated in the manual, there is only one requirement for someone to embark on the path to truth: “…somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s” (M.1.1:2).

*

Q #483: In The Most Commonly Asked Questions About A Course in Miracles you said that it would be an expression of specialness if we thought ourselves superior to be a student of a “sophisticated book that comes from Jesus himself.” But I feel very proud and good about myself that I have been working through such a difficult thought system; I feel very brave. What do you think?

A: That’s fine, as long as you do not think you are better than others who accept a different spirituality, or none. “Comparison must be an ego device, for love makes none. Specialness always makes comparisons” (T.24.II.1:1,2). It is quite contradictory to the whole message of the Course — the Son of God is one — to judge oneself superior to another for any reason whatsoever. Then, too, it is rather humbling when you realize that Jesus is saying in a number of different ways throughout the Course that we are here (or at least we think we are here in this world) because we attacked Love and banished it from our minds, and then we made up our own version of love as a substitute. He addresses us as little children, and even babies at times, in essence telling us that we are just beginning to take our first steps on the path of salvation. That is humbling indeed — nothing to brag about. But we can indeed be grateful that we have accepted a loving teacher who gently and patiently teaches us how to recognize our mistakes and then choose again: “If you want to be like me I will help you, knowing that we are alike. If you want to be different, I will wait until you change your mind. I can teach you, but only you can choose to listen to my teaching (T.8.IV.6:3,4,5).

10393790_10206634740367994_8204632106524304914_n

 

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 22

ACIM Text Reading for January 22

Chapter 1 ~ The Meaning of Miracles

II. Revelation, Time and Miracles

Revelation induces complete but temporary suspension of doubt and fear. It reflects the original form of communication between God and his creations, involving the extremely personal sense of creation sometimes sought in physical relationships. Physical closeness cannot achieve it. Miracles, however, are genuinely interpersonal, and result in true closeness to others. Revelation unites you directly with God. Miracles unite you directly with your brother. Neither emanates from consciousness, but both are experienced there. Consciousness is the state that induces action, though it does not inspire it. You are free to believe what you choose, and what you do attests to what you believe.

 

Revelation is intensely personal and cannot be meaningfully translated. That is why any attempt to describe it in words is impossible. Revelation induces only experience. Miracles, on the other hand, induce action. They are more useful now because of their interpersonal nature. In this phase of learning, working miracles is important because freedom from fear cannot be thrust upon you. Revelation is literally unspeakable because it is an experience of unspeakable love.

 

Awe should be reserved for revelation, to which it is perfectly and correctly applicable. It is not appropriate for miracles because a state of awe is worshipful, implying that one of a lesser order stands before his Creator. You are a perfect creation, and should experience awe only in the Presence of the Creator of perfection. The miracle is therefore a sign of love among equals. Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality. It is therefore an inappropriate reaction to me. An elder brother is entitled to respect for his greater experience, and obedience for his greater wisdom. He is also entitled to love because he is a brother, and to devotion if he is devoted. It is only my devotion that entitles me to yours. 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.

 

“No man cometh unto the Father but by me” does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist. The statement is more meaningful in terms of a vertical rather than a horizontal axis. You stand below me and I stand below God. In the process of “rising up,” I am higher because without me the distance between God and man would be too great for you to encompass. I bridge the distance as an elder brother to you on the one hand, and as a Son of God on the other. My devotion to my brothers has placed me in charge of the Sonship, which I render complete because I share it. This may appear to contradict the statement “I and my Father are one,” but there are two parts to the statement in recognition that the Father is greater.

 

Revelations are indirectly inspired by me because I am close to the Holy Spirit, and alert to the revelation-readiness of my brothers. I can thus bring down to them more than they can draw down to themselves. The Holy Spirit mediates higher to lower communication, keeping the direct channel from God to you open for revelation. Revelation is not reciprocal. It proceeds from God to you, but not from you to God.

 

The miracle minimizes the need for time. In the longitudinal or horizontal plane the recognition of the equality of the members of the Sonship appears to involve almost endless time. However, the miracle entails a sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception. This introduces an interval from which the giver and receiver both emerge farther along in time than they would otherwise have been. The miracle thus has the unique property of abolishing time to the extent that it renders the interval of time it spans unnecessary. There is no relationship between the time a miracle takes and the time it covers. The miracle substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years. It does so by the underlying recognition of perfect equality of giver and receiver on which the miracle rests. The miracle shortens time by collapsing it, thus eliminating certain intervals within it. It does this, however, within the larger temporal sequence.

****

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 22

Lesson 6

I am upset because I see something that is not there.

The exercises with this idea are very similar to the preceding ones. Again, it is necessary to name both the form of upset (anger, fear, worry, depression and so on) and the perceived source very specifically for any application of the idea. For example:

I am angry at ____ because I see something that is not there.
I am worried about ____ because I see something that is not there.

Today’s idea is useful for application to anything that seems to upset you, and can profitably be used throughout the day for that purpose. However, the three or four practice periods which are required should be preceded by a minute or so of mind searching, as before, and the application of the idea to each upsetting thought uncovered in the search.

Again, if you resist applying the idea to some upsetting thoughts more than to others, remind yourself of the two cautions stated in the previous lesson:

There are no small upsets. They are all equally disturbing to my peace of mind.

And:

I cannot keep this form of upset and let the others go. For the purposes of these exercises, then, I will regard them all as the same.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #914A Course in Miracles mentions a longitudinal and a horizontal plane. Would you please explain these terms?

A: The passage in A Course in Miracles to which you are referring states, “The miracle minimizes the need for time. In the longitudinal or horizontal plane the recognition of the equality of the members of the Sonship appears to involve almost endless time. However, the miracle entails a sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception” (T.1.II.6:1,2,3).

That passage comes just after Jesus has told us “‘No man cometh unto the Father but by me’ does not mean that I am in any way separate or different from you except in time, and time does not really exist. The statement is more meaningful in terms of a vertical rather than a horizontal axis” (T.1.II.4:1,2).

Jesus uses the terms longitudinal and horizontal to refer to our experience of linear time within a world of form. He chooses these words because they imply something that spans a distance and follows a path from one point to another.

We believe that we were born into a world of form that existed before we did and that will continue to exist after we die. It’s a world in which events seem to follow one another and in which the past led to the present, which in turn will determine our future. Further, we seem to live as bodies, separate from each other with distance between us. So the “horizontal or vertical plane” is our seeming everyday reality — a linear, sequential, physical experience, characterized by differences and separation.

But the Course tells us that “Time is a trick, a sleight of hand, a vast illusion …” (W.158.4:1) and that “…space is as meaningless as time” (T.1.VI.3:5). Jesus helps us remember that we can listen to an internal teacher — the Holy Spirit — who comes from outside of this spatial, temporal dream world we think we are in. The moment we turn away from the ego and turn toward the Holy Spirit as our guide (the miracle), our mind becomes a reflection of the oneness and timelessness of Heaven. That instant is what Jesus means by “the sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception.”

The word “vertical” means to rise upright. So the “vertical plane” symbolizes our rising above the world we think we are in (or, as Jesus says, “above the battleground”). This entails returning to the non-linear mind.

The idea that Jesus is no different from us except in time is hardly reassuring from our perspective in which the gulf between our consciousness and his seems insurmountable. To us it seems like we would need millions of years of learning to go from where we are to where he is. But in fact, all we need is an internal shift from the ego, which tells us to move backward or forward (but either way keeps us firmly planted in this world) to the Holy Spirit, Who will gently help us reach the light that lies beyond this illusory world.

A final note; any term Jesus uses in the Course to describe where we are, or the process of returning to our true home in Heaven, is only a symbol. In truth there is no horizontal or vertical plane, just as there is no world. But since virtually every symbol we have placed in this dream world serves to keep us asleep, Jesus uses symbols we can relate to that will help us to awaken.

For an in depth discussion of the concept of time from the Course’s perspective, see the book A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles by Kenneth Wapnick .

For related discussions about the mind, time, and space, please see Questions #228 and #666.

tiny mad idea