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
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 #1227: I 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.