ACIM Text Reading for February 11
Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception
VI. Judgement and the Authority Problem
We have already discussed the Last Judgement, but in insufficient detail. After the Last Judgement there will be no more. Judgement is symbolic because beyond perception there is no judgement. When the Bible says ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’, it means that if you judge the reality of others you will be unable to avoid judging your own.
The choice to judge rather than to know is the cause of the loss of peace. Judgement is the process on which perception but not knowledge rests. I have discussed this before in terms of the selectivity of perception, pointing out that evaluation is its obvious prerequisite. Judgement always involves rejection. It never emphasises only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether in you or in others. What has been perceived and rejected, or judged and found wanting, remains in your mind because it has been perceived. One of the illusions from which you suffer is the belief that what you judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless you also believe that what you judged against does not exist. You evidently do not believe this, or you would not have judged against it. In the end it does not matter whether your judgement is right or wrong. Either way you are placing your belief in the unreal. This cannot be avoided in any type of judgement, because it implies the belief that reality is yours to select from.
You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgement. When you recognise what you are and what your brothers are, you will realise that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from the belief that you are under the coercion of judgement. You do not need judgement to organise your life, and you certainly do not need it to organise yourself. In the presence of knowledge all judgement is automatically suspended, and this is the process that enables recognition to replace perception.
You are very fearful of everything you have perceived but have refused to accept. You believe that, because you have refused to accept it, you have lost control over it. This is why you see it in nightmares, or in pleasant disguises in what seem to be your happier dreams. Nothing that you have refused to accept can be brought into awareness. It is not dangerous in itself, but you have made it seem dangerous to you.
When you feel tired, it is because you have judged yourself as capable of being tired. When you laugh at someone, it is because you have judged him as unworthy. When you laugh at yourself you must laugh at others, if only because you cannot tolerate the idea of being more unworthy than they are. All this makes you feel tired because it is essentially disheartening. You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourself. The strain of constant judgement is virtually intolerable. It is curious that an ability so debilitating would be so deeply cherished. Yet if you wish to be the author of reality, you will insist on holding on to judgement. You will also regard judgement with fear, believing that it will someday be used against you. This belief can exist only to the extent that you believe in the efficacy of judgement as a weapon of defence for your own authority.
God offers only mercy. Your words should reflect only mercy, because that is what you have received and that is what you should give. Justice is a temporary expedient, or an attempt to teach you the meaning of mercy. It is judgemental only because you are capable of injustice.
I have spoken of different symptoms, and at that level there is almost endless variation. There is, however, only one cause for all of them: the authority problem. This is ‘the root of all evil’. Every symptom the ego makes involves a contradiction in terms, because the mind is split between the ego and the Holy Spirit, so that whatever the ego makes is incomplete and contradictory. This untenable position is the result of the authority problem which, because it accepts the one inconceivable thought as its premise, can produce only ideas that are inconceivable.
The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When you have an authority problem, it is always because you believe you are the author of yourself and project your delusion onto others. You then perceive the situation as one in which others are literally fighting you for your authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God. This belief is very frightening to them, but hardly troubles God. He is, however, eager to undo it, not to punish His children, but only because He knows that it makes them unhappy. God’s creations are given their true Authorship, but you prefer to be anonymous when you choose to separate yourself from your Author. Being uncertain of your true Authorship, you believe that your creation was anonymous. This leaves you in a position where it sounds meaningful to believe that you created yourself. The dispute over authorship has left such uncertainty in your mind that it may even doubt whether you really exist at all.
Only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible. You have not usurped the power of God, but you have lost it. Fortunately, to lose something does not mean that it has gone. It merely means that you do not remember where it is. Its existence does not depend on your ability to identify it, or even to place it. It is possible to look on reality without judgement and merely know that it is there.
Peace is a natural heritage of spirit. Everyone is free to refuse to accept his inheritance, but he is not free to establish what his inheritance is. The problem everyone must decide is the fundamental question of authorship. All fear comes ultimately, and sometimes by way of very devious routes, from the denial of Authorship. The offence is never to God, but only to those who deny Him. To deny His Authorship is to deny yourself the reason for your peace, so that you see yourself only in segments. This strange perception is the authority problem.
There is no one who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way. If this is the result of his own free will he must regard his will as not free, or the circular reasoning in this position would be quite apparent. Free will must lead to freedom. Judgement always imprisons because it separates segments of reality by the unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one in his right mind believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed. Instead of ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven’ say, ‘Will ye first the Kingdom of Heaven’, and you have said, ‘I know what I am and I accept my own inheritance’.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 11
Above all else I want to see.
Today’s idea expresses something stronger than mere determination. It gives vision priority among your desires. You may feel hesitant about using the idea, on the grounds that you are not sure you really mean it. This does not matter. The purpose of today’s exercises is to bring the time when the idea will be wholly true a little nearer.
There may be a great temptation to believe that some sort of sacrifice is being asked of you when you say you want to see above all else. If you become uneasy about the lack of reservation involved, add:
Vision has no cost to anyone.
If fear of loss still persists, add further:
It can only bless.
The idea for today needs many repetitions for maximum benefit. It should be used at least every half hour, and more if possible. You might try for every fifteen or twenty minutes. It is recommended that you set a definite time interval for using the idea when you wake or shortly afterwards, and attempt to adhere to it throughout the day. It will not be difficult to do this, even if you are engaged in conversation, or otherwise occupied at the time. You can still repeat one short sentence to yourself without disturbing anything.
The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today’s idea to be true? Answer one of these questions, and you have answered the other. You will probably miss several applications, and perhaps quite a number. Do not be disturbed by this, but do try to keep on your schedule from then on. If only once during the day you feel that you were perfectly sincere while you were repeating today’s idea, you can be sure that you have saved yourself many years of effort.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1333: I read your reply to Question #913 with great interest. I have also noticed the Course making people more assertive and aggressive, even unbalancing otherwise rather “normal” and friendly people by perhaps influencing them subconsciously. You/the Course seem to say that this is simply the ego fighting back, but I wonder whether A Course in Miracles , in itself, is very assertive in the way it presents its “truth,” and therefore (deliberately?) causes these emotional storms, aggressive behavior, and hateful thoughts to come forth. Is the Course some sort of “provocative therapy” much like homoeopathy only in much more powerful degrees? It uses sentences like “I told you” and “do this,” which sound very authoritative. As justification of its authoritative way of presenting its point of view, it says it comes directly from Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or even God. Is my interpretation correct?
A: Your interpretation is not quite right. To explain why, let us address your final point first. The Course does not claim to have come from God. It is written in Jesus’ authoritative voice, but this is not the result of a calculated attempt to justify a point of view. Rather, it is a reflection of the fact that it was inspired by a source of love from outside this dream of time and space — one which many of us within this dream, including the Course’s scribe, experience as coming through the voice of Jesus.
The Course teaches that until now we have been listening to the voice of the ego, and it asks us to look honestly at the misery this has caused us. It informs us that we have access to another internal Teacher, the Holy Spirit, and that we would be much happier if we dropped the ego’s hand and took the Holy Spirit’s hand instead. It is unequivocal about the fact that this world is an illusion born from guilt and that therefore, we will never find lasting happiness or peace from anything within this world — we will only find it by changing our mind. The difficulty is that, “To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold” (T.24.in.2:1).
As long as we are listening to the ego, it is very difficult to hear that we are wrong about everything and should question all our values. Indeed, under the ego’s guidance, it is virtually impossible not to hear that as an attack and react with emotional storms, aggressive behavior, and hateful thoughts. It is not the Course’s goal that we experience these things, but Jesus realizes that it is almost inevitable that we will. He knows this because he recognizes that as long as we believe we are here, we merely reenact the original instant in which we stormed against God, insisting that we were right and God was wrong. Thus, when Course students seem to become overly assertive or aggressive as a result of what they are learning, it is not because they are fulfilling part of the Course’s curriculum, but rather that they are reacting to the fear it has engendered.
Jesus is not out to provoke us, but neither does he try to protect us from feeling provoked by his message. He simply tells us that what is true is true, what is false is false, and asks us to watch our own internal process as we learn to distinguish between the two.