ACIM Text Reading for February 7
Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception
II. Miracles as True Perception
I have stated that the basic concepts referred to in this course are not matters of degree. Certain fundamental concepts cannot be understood in terms of opposites. It is impossible to conceive of light and darkness or everything and nothing as joint possibilities. They are all true or all false. It is essential that you realise your thinking will be erratic until a firm commitment to one or the other is made. A firm commitment to darkness or nothingness, however, is impossible. No one has ever lived who has not experienced some light and some thing. No one, therefore, is able to deny truth totally, even if he thinks he can.
Innocence is not a partial attribute. It is not real until it is total. The partly innocent are apt to be quite foolish at times. It is not until their innocence becomes a viewpoint with universal application that it becomes wisdom. Innocent or true perception means that you never misperceive and always see truly. More simply, it means that you never see what does not exist, and always see what does.
When you lack confidence in what someone will do, you are attesting to your belief that he is not in his right mind. This is hardly a miracle-based frame of reference. It also has the disastrous effect of denying the power of the miracle. The miracle perceives everything as it is. If nothing but the truth exists, right-minded seeing cannot see anything but perfection. I have said that only what God creates or what you create with the same Will has any real existence. This, then, is all the innocent can see. They do not suffer from distorted perception.
You are afraid of God’s Will because you have used your own mind, which He created in the likeness of His Own, to miscreate. The mind can miscreate only when it believes it is not free. An ‘imprisoned’ mind is not free because it is possessed, or held back, by itself. It is therefore limited, and the will is not free to assert itself. To be one is to be of one mind or will. When the Will of the Sonship and the Father are one, their perfect accord is Heaven.
Nothing can prevail against a Son of God who commends his Spirit into the Hands of his Father. By doing this the mind awakens from its sleep and remembers its Creator. All sense of separation disappears. The Son of God is part of the Holy Trinity, but the Trinity Itself is one. There is no confusion within Its Levels, because They are of one Mind and one Will. This single purpose creates perfect integration and establishes the peace of God. Yet this vision can be perceived only by the truly innocent. Because their hearts are pure, the innocent defend true perception instead of defending themselves against it. Understanding the lesson of the Atonement they are without the wish to attack, and therefore they see truly. This is what the Bible means when it says, ‘When He shall appear (or be perceived) we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is’.
The way to correct distortions is to withdraw your faith in them and invest it only in what is true. You cannot make untruth true. If you are willing to accept what is true in everything you perceive, you let it be true for you. Truth overcomes all error, and those who live in error and emptiness can never find lasting solace. If you perceive truly you are cancelling out misperceptions in yourself and in others simultaneously. Because you see them as they are, you offer them your acceptance of their truth so they can accept it for themselves. This is the healing that the miracle induces.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 7
I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.
The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is meaningless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.
If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.
The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?
You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.
The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your images have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.
Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind say:
I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about ______.
Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.
In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods. We are still at the stage of identifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #913: I’ve been a student of A Course in Miracles for about 12 years. I know Course students often find that as they ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to look at the workings of the ego, things in there lives seem to get worse instead of better. What I am finding quite disturbing in my own process as a student, is the appearance, or perhaps the surfacing, of a great deal of anger. Sometimes in everyday situations, my thoughts become downright vicious and murderous. I would say that I have a pleasant personality, and am overall a likeable, friendly individual. My thought is that perhaps lots of repressed anger is surfacing as I am looking within more and more with the Holy Spirit’s help. I know I should ask the Holy Spirit to look at this issue with me too. But I’m almost scared to delve into what else might be lying below the surface of my otherwise soft-spoken, quiet personality. Is this a “normal” sort of development for a long-term Course student?
A: Yes, what you are describing is a very normal experience for Course students. As you know, the Course process is one of asking the Holy Spirit to look with us at the workings of the ego. In so doing, we are bringing to light that which we’ve always struggled very hard (albeit unconsciously) to keep in darkness. Often, as we become increasingly willing to take the Holy Spirit’s hand and bring to awareness that which we’d buried, we see more and more of how hateful and vicious the ego really is.
When the ego senses its game is up (realizing we’ve found a voice besides its own to listen to), it typically becomes louder and more dramatic. As the Course says, “The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased” (T.9.VII.4:6,7).
As we become more adept at shifting our inner teacher, fear often compels us to make a sharp turn back toward the ego’s familiar voice. But the Course reassures us that this tendency has no effect on our ultimate ability to complete the journey we’ve begun: “As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror. But you will advance, because your goal is the advance from fear to truth” (T.18.III.2:1,2).
Whatever games the ego plays, the important thing is to just continue looking at it while holding the Holy Spirit’s hand. Of course, on the level of this world, it’s generally preferable (and more helpful to you and those around you) not to act out the ego’s insane attack thoughts. But you don’t want to pretend they’re not there. Doing so doesn’t make them go away, it just sends them back into the darkness of the unconscious. And a basic psychological principle is that which is repressed gets projected. So, to truly become less hateful and vicious, we have to admit that we are those things and gradually learn not to take the ego’s voice seriously. Again, that means watching the ego without judgment, no matter how intense or embarrassing its internal nastiness becomes.
Remember that the ego — everyone’s ego — is 100 percent hate. A more socially acceptable personality does not equate to having an ego that is better or more acceptable than another. Jesus tells us “The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter. …a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury” (W.pI.21.2:4,5) . At first, that statement can sound grotesque and deeply disturbing. But ultimately, it is quite reassuring. From Jesus’ perspective, we are all the same.
Each of us can choose to listen to the 100 percent hateful voice of the ego, or to the 100 percent loving Voice of the Holy Spirit. Each of us, regardless of the personality traits we display in this lifetime, is both a Hitler and a Jesus. At those times when our thoughts or behavior are more Hitler-like, we have merely become afraid, dropped the Holy Spirit’s hand, and once again made the error of listening to the wrong voice. This is a mistake calling for correction not punishment. And happily, our ego’s cruel and insane ranting has no effect on reality.