A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for February 3

ACIM Text Reading for February 3

Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement

VI. Fear and Conflict

Being afraid seems to be involuntary; something beyond your own control. Yet I have said already that only constructive acts should be involuntary. My control can take over everything that does not matter, while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose. Fear cannot be controlled by me, but it can be self-controlled. Fear prevents me from giving you my control. The presence of fear shows that you have raised body thoughts to the level of the mind. This removes them from my control, and makes you feel personally responsible for them. This is an obvious confusion of levels.

I do not foster level confusion, but you must choose to correct it. You would not excuse insane behaviour on your part by saying you could not help it. Why should you condone insane thinking? There is a confusion here that you would do well to look at clearly. You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate yourself from the truth by ‘giving’ autonomy to behaviour. This is controlled by me automatically as soon as you place what you think under my guidance. Whenever you are afraid, it is a sure sign that you have allowed your mind to miscreate and have not allowed me to guide it.

It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome of mis-thought can result in healing. When you are fearful, you have chosen wrongly. That is why you feel responsible for it. You must change your mind, not your behaviour, and this is a matter of willingness. You do not need guidance except at the mind level. Correction belongs only at the level where change is possible. Change does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work.

The correction of fear is your responsibility. When you ask for release from fear, you are implying that it is not. You should ask, instead, for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about. These conditions always entail a willingness to be separate. At that level you can help it. You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, and are passively condoning your mind’s miscreations. The particular result does not matter, but the fundamental error does. The correction is always the same. Before you choose to do anything, ask me if your choice is in accord with mine. If you are sure that it is, there will be no fear.

Fear is always a sign of strain, arising whenever what you want conflicts with what you do. This situation arises in two ways: First, you can choose to do conflicting things, either simultaneously or successively. This produces conflicted behaviour, which is intolerable to you because the part of the mind that wants to do something else is outraged. Second, you can behave as you think you should, but without entirely wanting to do so. This produces consistent behaviour, but entails great strain. In both cases, the mind and the behaviour are out of accord, resulting in a situation in which you are doing what you do not wholly want to do. This arouses a sense of coercion that usually produces rage, and projection is likely to follow. Whenever there is fear, it is because you have not made up your mind. Your mind is therefore split, and your behaviour inevitably becomes erratic. Correcting at the behavioural level can shift the error from the first to the second type, but will not obliterate the fear.

It is possible to reach a state in which you bring your mind under my guidance without conscious effort, but this implies a willingness that you have not developed as yet. The Holy Spirit cannot ask more than you are willing to do. The strength to do comes from your undivided decision. There is no strain in doing God’s Will as soon as you recognise that it is also your own. The lesson here is quite simple, but particularly apt to be overlooked. I will therefore repeat it, urging you to listen. Only your mind can produce fear. It does so whenever it is conflicted in what it wants, producing inevitable strain because wanting and doing are discordant. This can be corrected only by accepting a unified goal.

The first corrective step in undoing the error is to know first that the conflict is an expression of fear. Say to yourself that you must somehow have chosen not to love, or the fear could not have arisen. Then the whole process of correction becomes nothing more than a series of pragmatic steps in the larger process of accepting the Atonement as the remedy. These steps may be summarised in this way:

Know first that this is fear.

Fear arises from lack of love.

The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.

Perfect love is the Atonement.

I have emphasised that the miracle, or the expression of Atonement, is always a sign of respect from the worthy to the worthy. The recognition of this worth is re-established by the Atonement. It is obvious, then, that when you are afraid, you have placed yourself in a position where you need Atonement. You have done something loveless, having chosen without love. This is precisely the situation for which the Atonement was offered. The need for the remedy inspired its establishment. As long as you recognise only the need for the remedy, you will remain fearful. However, as soon as you accept the remedy, you have abolished the fear. This is how true healing occurs.

Everyone experiences fear. Yet it would take very little right thinking to realise why fear occurs. Few appreciate the real power of the mind, and no one remains fully aware of it all the time. However, if you hope to spare yourself from fear there are some things you must realise, and realise fully. The mind is very powerful, and never loses its creative force. It never sleeps. Every instant it is creating. It is hard to recognise that thought and belief combine into a power surge that can literally move mountains. It appears at first glance that to believe such power about yourself is arrogant, but that is not the real reason you do not believe it. You prefer to believe that your thoughts cannot exert real influence because you are actually afraid of them. This may allay awareness of the guilt, but at the cost of perceiving the mind as impotent. If you believe that what you think is ineffectual you may cease to be afraid of it, but you are hardly likely to respect it There are no idle thoughts. All thinking produces form at some level.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 3

Lesson 19

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.

The idea for today is obviously the reason why your seeing does not affect you alone. You will notice that at times the ideas related to thinking precede those related to perceiving, while at other times the order is reversed. The reason is that the order does not matter. Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate.

Today we are again emphasizing the fact that minds are joined. This is rarely a wholly welcome idea at first, since it seems to carry with it an enormous sense of responsibility, and may even be regarded as an “invasion of privacy.” Yet it is a fact that there are no private thoughts. Despite your initial resistance to this idea, you will yet understand that it must be true if salvation is possible at all. And salvation must be possible because it is the Will of God.

The minute or so of mind searching which today’s exercises require is to be undertaken with eyes closed. The idea for today is to be repeated first, and then the mind should be carefully searched for the thoughts it contains at that time. As you consider each one, name it in terms of the central person or theme it contains, and holding it in your mind as you do so, say:

I am not alone in experiencing the effects of this thought about _______.

The requirement of as much indiscriminateness as possible in selecting subjects for the practice periods should be quite familiar to you by now, and will no longer be repeated each day, although it will occasionally be included as a reminder. Do not forget, however, that random selection of subjects for all practice periods remains essential throughout. Lack of order in this connection will ultimately make the recognition of lack of order in miracles meaningful to you.

Apart from the “as needed” application of today’s idea, at least three practice periods are required, shortening the length of time involved, if necessary. Do not attempt more than four.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #242: I am confused by A Course in Miracles’ use of the word conditions. We are not to ask for help with the “release of fear,” but rather to ask “for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about.” Would you say it’s also appropriate to ask for help in bringing “proper learning conditions” about?…for help in bringing about the conditions for peace?…for help in bringing about the conditions for love?…etc. I assume it’s talking about conditions of mind.

A: Yes, the term conditions always refers to a choice made in our minds, which accounts for our lack of peace, for our not being aware of love’s presence, etc. The point of the passage you are referring to (T.2.VI.4) is that Jesus was helping Helen and all of us to learn to take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings, so that we can get back in touch with the power of our minds to choose. We essentially chose to repress this power and become mindless instead when we gave our allegiance to the ego. So Jesus is saying that it really would not be helpful to us in the long run, if he simply took our fear away from us, without our having learned that it is there only because of our ongoing choice to prefer separation to oneness (the conditions that led to the fear). He tells us several paragraphs later: “You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough” (T.2.VII.1:2,3,4,5,6,7).

So Jesus is emphasizing the importance of guarding our thoughts very carefully, just as the entire workbook comes back over and over again to the importance of our being vigilantabout our thoughts. That is what he wants to help us with: looking at how willing we are to keep ourselves separate and special, how willing we are to see others as the sinners and ourselves as innocent victims. These are the conditions that result in our fear and our lack of peace, etc.

Thus is it very appropriate to ask for help in bringing about the conditions that would facilitate our learning, and that would bring about the conditions for peace and love, etc. If we were to look with him at all of our ego thoughts, and then let them go, fear and guilt would vanish forever, and then the love that had been blocked by the fear would be our only reality. All fear and guilt rest on our willingness to choose against the love of Jesus and for the ego, which ensures our survival as separate individuals.

Finally, if we ask him to help us look at our choice to keep him away, then we have already begun the process of correcting that choice. That is the kind of help that would benefit us most.

*

Q #208: T.2.VI.4:9 says, “Before you choose to do anything, ask me if your choice is in accord with mine.” When I first began studying A Course in Miracles I thought this statement meant that before we did anything in this world we were to ask Jesus whether or not we should. Now, with some growth, I don’t really know what the statement means (or much of anything else for that matter.) Can you elaborate?

A: The Course teaches us that since we have a split mind, there are two ways of perceiving in the dream: the ego’s and the Holy Spirit’s. They are referred to as our “teachers” or as “voices” in our mind. It also tells us that everything serves one of two goals: the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s. Every choice we make, therefore, is in accord with one of these two perceptions, and serves one of these two goals. The statement you quote is asking us to be aware, in everything that we choose to think or do, which “teacher” we are listening to, and what purpose, or goal, our choice serves. This refers to the choice we are making in the mind, not in form. Choosing with the ego will always reinforce the belief that the separation, the world, and the body are real, and will result in some degree of conflict. The ego’s goal is to keep us in our deep sleep in the world of illusion. Choosing with the Holy Spirit will always bring peace, and strengthen our awareness that we are mind, not body. This choice leads us to the mind, so that we can learn to make the only real choice — accepting the separation thought as real or not real. This process has nothing to do with the “choice” we seem to be making in the world of form. Needing to make choices and decisions in the world is a helpful reminder to us that we are always choosing between the lies of the ego and the light of the Holy Spirit. The other important factor is that we must choose, there is no in between: “Vision or judgment is your choice, but never both of these” (T.20.V.4:7).

In a statement such as the one you quote, the Course is asking us to ask ourselves whether we are seeking to further our progress on our journey home to God, or whether we are seeking to reinforce our identity as a separate self. In a later chapter we are told: “In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is “What do I want to come of this? What is it for?” The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome” (T.17.VI.2:1,2,3). In other words, “whom am I listening to?” The outcome of peace or conflict reveals who the teacher is, and also reflects what we truly want. The ultimate outcome brings us closer to the decision not to deny God or, to remain entrenched in the illusion of separation. It is important to remember that A Course in Miracles is never referring to form, and is always addressing the mind, not the body which is the figure in the dream.

*

Q #242: I am confused by A Course in Miracles’ use of the word conditions. We are not to ask for help with the “release of fear,” but rather to ask “for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about.” Would you say it’s also appropriate to ask for help in bringing “proper learning conditions” about?…for help in bringing about the conditions for peace?…for help in bringing about the conditions for love?…etc. I assume it’s talking about conditions of mind.

A: Yes, the term conditions always refers to a choice made in our minds, which accounts for our lack of peace, for our not being aware of love’s presence, etc. The point of the passage you are referring to (T.2.VI.4) is that Jesus was helping Helen and all of us to learn to take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings, so that we can get back in touch with the power of our minds to choose. We essentially chose to repress this power and become mindless instead when we gave our allegiance to the ego. So Jesus is saying that it really would not be helpful to us in the long run, if he simply took our fear away from us, without our having learned that it is there only because of our ongoing choice to prefer separation to oneness (the conditions that led to the fear). He tells us several paragraphs later: “You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough” (T.2.VII.1:2,3,4,5,6,7).

So Jesus is emphasizing the importance of guarding our thoughts very carefully, just as the entire workbook comes back over and over again to the importance of our being vigilantabout our thoughts. That is what he wants to help us with: looking at how willing we are to keep ourselves separate and special, how willing we are to see others as the sinners and ourselves as innocent victims. These are the conditions that result in our fear and our lack of peace, etc.

Thus is it very appropriate to ask for help in bringing about the conditions that would facilitate our learning, and that would bring about the conditions for peace and love, etc. If we were to look with him at all of our ego thoughts, and then let them go, fear and guilt would vanish forever, and then the love that had been blocked by the fear would be our only reality. All fear and guilt rest on our willingness to choose against the love of Jesus and for the ego, which ensures our survival as separate individuals.

Finally, if we ask him to help us look at our choice to keep him away, then we have already begun the process of correcting that choice. That is the kind of help that would benefit us most.

*

Q #662: Would you comment on the idea “all thinking produces form on some level” (T.2.VI.9:14)? Maybe give a couple of examples and how it may relate to working with A Course in Miracles.

A: The meaning of this important statement is that thinking and its effects are simultaneous, as Jesus repeats in Lesson 19: “Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate” (W.pI.19.1:4). As the preceding sentences in the paragraph indicate, Jesus was trying to teach Helen, and all of us, that we deal with our fear of our mind’s power by believing that we can have “ineffectual” or “idle” thoughts. So Jesus is correcting that by saying that all our thoughts have effects. He emphasizes this same teaching in Lessons 16 and 17 in the workbook. Most of us are accustomed to thinking that our thoughts have no effect if we do not share them or act on them. That is because we do not believe we are minds, or if we do believe we are minds, we believe the mind is in the body and so if the body does not act on a thought, the thought has had no effect. Jesus is saying that our thoughts always have effects. A thought of hatred, for example, even if kept totally “private,” has an effect in the mind of the person who has the thought, because it is a thought of separation and that thought banishes peace because it banishes the truth. This does notmean, however, that if you have thoughts of anger toward someone and that person has a heart attack that your thoughts caused the heart attack. No one can choose for another, as Jesus explains in Lesson 152, “The power of decision is my own” (W.pI.152).

Taken on the metaphysical level, the statement means that every thought is expressed in the dream in terms of a “script,” analogous to a video-tape library, where the expression of each thought would be represented by a video tape. Portions of Lessons 158 and 169 refer to this notion of “script” (W.pI.158, 169). Our book A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles also discusses in detail these as well as other aspects of time found in the Course.


 

present love

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