ACIM Text Reading for March 8
Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
II. The Alternative to Projection
Any split in mind must involve a rejection of part of it, and this is the belief in separation. The wholeness of God, which is His peace, cannot be appreciated except by a whole mind that recognises the wholeness of God’s creation. By this recognition it knows its Creator. Exclusion and separation are synonymous, as are separation and dissociation. We have said before that the separation was and is dissociation, and that once it occurs projection becomes its main defence, or the device that keeps it going. The reason, however, may not be so obvious as you think.
What you project you disown, and therefore do not believe is yours. You are excluding yourself by the very judgement that you are different from the one on whom you project. Since you have also judged against what you project, you continue to attack it because you continue to keep it separated. By doing this unconsciously, you try to keep the fact that you attacked yourself out of awareness, and thus imagine that you have made yourself safe.
Yet projection will always hurt you. It reinforces your belief in your own split mind, and its only purpose is to keep the separation going. It is solely a device of the ego to make you feel different from your brothers and separated from them. The ego justifies this on the grounds that it makes you seem ‘better’ than they are, thus obscuring your equality with them still further. Projection and attack are inevitably related, because projection is always a means of justifying attack. Anger without projection is impossible. The ego uses projection only to destroy your perception of both yourself and your brothers. The process begins by excluding something that exists in you but which you do not want, and leads directly to excluding you from your brothers.
We have learned, however, that there is an alternative to projection. Every ability of the ego has a better use, because its abilities are directed by the mind, which has a better Voice. The Holy Spirit extends and the ego projects. As their goals are opposed, so is the result.
The Holy Spirit begins by perceiving you as perfect. Knowing this perfection is shared He recognises it in others, thus strengthening it in both. Instead of anger this arouses love for both, because it establishes inclusion. Perceiving equality, the Holy Spirit perceives equal needs. This invites Atonement automatically, because Atonement is the one need in this world that is universal. To perceive yourself this way is the only way in which you can find happiness in the world. That is because it is the acknowledgement that you are not in this world, for the world is unhappy.
How else can you find joy in a joyless place except by realising that you are not there? You cannot be anywhere God did not put you, and God created you as part of Him. That is both where you are and what you are. It is completely unalterable. It is total inclusion. You cannot change it now or ever. It is forever true. It is not a belief, but a Fact. Anything that God created is as true as He is. Its truth lies only in its perfect inclusion in Him Who alone is perfect. To deny this is to deny yourself and Him, since it is impossible to accept one without the other.
The perfect equality of the Holy Spirit’s perception is the reflection of the perfect equality of God’s knowing. The ego’s perception has no counterpart in God, but the Holy Spirit remains the bridge between perception and knowledge. By enabling you to use perception in a way that reflects knowledge, you will ultimately remember it. The ego would prefer to believe that this memory is impossible, yet it is your perception the Holy Spirit guides. Your perception will end where it began. Everything meets in God, because everything was created by Him and in Him.
God created His Sons by extending His Thought, and retaining the extensions of His Thought in His Mind. All His Thoughts are thus perfectly united within themselves and with each other. The Holy Spirit enables you to perceive this wholeness now. God created you to create. You cannot extend His Kingdom until you know of its wholeness.
Thoughts begin in the mind of the thinker, from which they reach outward. This is as true of God’s Thinking as it is of yours. Because your mind is split, you can perceive as well as think. Yet perception cannot escape the basic laws of mind. You perceive from your mind and project your perceptions outward. Although perception of any kind is unreal, you made it and the Holy Spirit can therefore use it well. He can inspire perception and lead it toward God. This convergence seems to be far in the future only because your mind is not in perfect alignment with the idea, and therefore does not want it now.
The Holy Spirit uses time, but does not believe in it. Coming from God He uses everything for good, but He does not believe in what is not true. Since the Holy Spirit is in your mind, your mind can also believe only what is true. The Holy Spirit can speak only for this, because He speaks for God. He tells you to return your whole mind to God, because it has never left Him. If it has never left Him, you need only perceive it as it is to be returned. The full awareness of the Atonement, then, is the recognition that the separation never occurred. The ego cannot prevail against this because it is an explicit statement that the ego never occurred.
The ego can accept the idea that return is necessary because it can so easily make the idea seem difficult. Yet the Holy Spirit tells you that even return is unnecessary, because what never happened cannot be difficult. However, you can make the idea of return both necessary and difficult. Yet it is surely clear that the perfect need nothing, and you cannot experience perfection as a difficult accomplishment, because that is what you are. This is the way in which you must perceive God’s creations, bringing all of your perceptions into the one line the Holy Spirit sees. This line is the direct line of communication with God, and lets your mind converge with His. There is no conflict anywhere in this perception, because it means that all perception is guided by the Holy Spirit, Whose Mind is fixed on God. Only the Holy Spirit can resolve conflict, because only the Holy Spirit is conflict-free. He perceives only what is true in your mind, and extends outward only to what is true in other minds.
The difference between the ego’s projection and the Holy Spirit’s extension is very simple. The ego projects to exclude, and therefore to deceive. The Holy Spirit extends by recognising Himself in every mind, and thus perceives them as one. Nothing conflicts in this perception, because what the Holy Spirit perceives is all the same. Wherever He looks He sees Himself, and because He is united He offers the whole Kingdom always. This is the one message God gave to Him and for which He must speak, because that is what He is. The peace of God lies in that message, and so the peace of God lies in you. The great peace of the Kingdom shines in your mind forever, but it must shine outward to make you aware of it.
The Holy Spirit was given you with perfect impartiality, and only by recognising Him impartially can you recognise Him at all. The ego is legion, but the Holy Spirit is one. No darkness abides anywhere in the Kingdom, but your part is only to allow no darkness to abide in your own mind. This alignment with light is unlimited, because it is in alignment with the light of the world. Each of us is the light of the world, and by joining our minds in this light we proclaim the Kingdom of God together and as one.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 8
God is the strength in which I trust.
If you are trusting in your own strength, you have every reason to be apprehensive, anxious and fearful. What can you predict or control? What is there in you that can be counted on? What would give you the ability to be aware of all the facets of any problem, and to resolve them in such a way that only good can come of it? What is there in you that gives you the recognition of the right solution, and the guarantee that it will be accomplished?
Of yourself you can do none of these things. To believe that you can is to put your trust where trust is unwarranted, and to justify fear, anxiety, depression, anger and sorrow. Who can put his faith in weakness and feel safe? Yet who can put his faith in strength and feel weak?
God is your safety in every circumstance. His Voice speaks for Him in all situations and in every aspect of all situations, telling you exactly what to do to call upon His strength and His protection. There are no exceptions because God has no exceptions. And the Voice which speaks for Him thinks as He does.
Today we will try to reach past your own weakness to the Source of real strength. Four five-minute practice periods are necessary today, and longer and more frequent ones are urged. Close your eyes and begin, as usual, by repeating the idea for the day. Then spend a minute or two in searching for situations in your life which you have invested with fear, dismissing each one by telling yourself:
God is the strength in which I trust.
Now try to slip past all concerns related to your own sense of inadequacy. It is obvious that any situation that causes you concern is associated with feelings of inadequacy, for otherwise you would believe that you could deal with the situation successfully. It is not by trusting yourself that you will gain confidence. But the strength of God in you is successful in all things.
The recognition of your own frailty is a necessary step in the correction of your errors, but it is hardly a sufficient one in giving you the confidence which you need, and to which you are entitled. You must also gain an awareness that confidence in your real strength is fully justified in every respect and in all circumstances.
In the latter phase of the practice period, try to reach down into your mind to a place of real safety. You will recognize that you have reached it if you feel a sense of deep peace, however briefly. Let go all the trivial things that churn and bubble on the surface of your mind, and reach down and below them to the Kingdom of Heaven . There is a place in you where there is perfect peace. There is a place in you where nothing is impossible. There is a place in you where the strength of God abides.
During the day, repeat the idea often. Use it as your answer to any disturbance. Remember that peace is your right, because you are giving your trust to the strength of God.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1034: Why would God create a Son that is capable of having “unhappy dreams?” Does this have something to do with God’s desire that His Son have a “free will?” “Never approach the holy instant after you have tried to remove all fear and hatred from your mind. That is its function. Never attempt to overlook your guilt before you ask the Holy Spirit’s help. That is His function. Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven” (T.18.V.2:1,2,3,4,5) Does this mean that we do not need to forgive ourselves before we approach the holy instant and that we do not need to forgive ourselves before we ask the Holy Spirit’s help? Does this mean that all we need to do is open ourselves a little bit with our “little willingness” and the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest. That the Holy Spirit will then teach us how to forgive ourselves and will then teach us how to change our fearful dreams to “happy dreams” on the way to awakening?
A: The first part of your question is asked by just about every student of A Course in Miracles . It is founded on a belief system that tells us dreams are real, that they have an unhappy effect on the dreamer, and that God is to blame for this miserable state of affairs. This belief system is shared by all the Sonship once the thought of separation is taken seriously. It rests on the declaration that the separation did indeed occur and has had disastrous effects. Furthermore, God is not only responsible for this, He won’t do anything about it. Herein lies the ego’s woeful tale of separation. Once the mind chooses to believe that separation is possible, the creative power that it shares with its Source is expressed in the ability to choose between separation and Oneness. However, choosing between what is real (oneness) and what is not real (separation) is not a real choice. It is the denial of one and acceptance of the other. Denial of truth is what the Course calls a misuse of the mind’s creative power, while free will is defined as the choice for truth/denial of error: “Denial of error is a strong defense 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 recognizes only truth” (T.2II.2:5,6,7). Thus, choosing the ego’s unhappy dream is the denial of free will.
Since “God does not know of separation” (P.2.VII.1:11), He is unaware of the Son’s “choice” or of any will that is not the Will He shares with him. Neither can we speak of God as desiring anything for His Son, for desire implies need or some sense of lack. In the non-dualistic state of perfect oneness that God shares with His Son, there is no need or lack of any kind. He knows only perfect Oneness, perfect Love, one Will shared with His Son. This is a unitive state that is impossible to understand from within the dream of duality. While we still believe the separation is possible, the Course meets us where we think we are by describing our seeming separated condition as a dream the Son has while he remains at home with His Father (T.13.VII.17:7) , Who is unaware of the nightmarish escapades and adventures of the dream.
You are absolutely right, all that is required of us is willingness. In fact, the passage you quote is saying that we should not do anything except be willing . We cannot forgive ourselves, nor remove the guilt, fear, and hatred from our minds. What we can do is become aware of our need for forgiveness by being willing to look at our judgments as projections of guilt for having chosen separation. The choice is forgotten until we see the judgments. The miracle of forgiveness begins with willingness to recognize them as the projections they are, rather than justify them by shifting blame outside the mind and on to external agents. That is enough for us to do because in itself it is not as easy as it may seem. The world is a fertile battleground, bombarding us with “legitimate” external reasons for lack of peace. It is no small thing to learn to accept that nothing external to the mind can take peace away. That is probably why Jesus thought “miracle” was a good word for his teaching on forgiveness. When we do our part, the rest follows without further effort. Trying to do anything more, simply means we have put ourselves in charge of the Atonement, which ensures that we will not accept it. In this regard it is always helpful to remember the one task we have been given: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” (T.16.IV.6:1) .
Q #1035: Lately I’ve been observing my “sleeping dreams” versus “waking dreams” from the point of view of A Course in Miracles and my understanding of “dreaming” has deepened a bit. Although not always, it sometimes helps me to put “the problems in this world” in the right perspective. In Kenneth Wapnick’s “Cause and Effect” first tape, he mentions this line: “A dream is a wish fulfilled.” Could you please elaborate?
A: A significant part of Freud’s work is based on his theory that the dreams we have at night are fulfillments of wishes — that we hold secret wishes in our minds which then manifest in our nocturnal dreams. Jesus is saying the same thing, except that he generalizes this to include our entire lives, as well as the “life” of the entire physical universe. Thus, we “are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality” (T.10.I.2:1) . Our lives in this world are parts of this dream of being separate from God. This is illusory, of course, as separating from Infinity and Perfection is impossible; but since we think we are really alive in this very real world, Jesus uses the analogy of the dream to help us return to our original, unchanged state as one with our Source. He teaches us how to become “lucid dreamers” — a gradual process of bringing back into our awareness the power of our minds to decide to awaken from this dream of separation or to stay asleep, oblivious to the fact that we are the dreamers of our own dreams.
What keeps us from awakening, however, is our secret wish to keep our individual existence but to project blame for it onto something or someone else. This is the cause of our feeling victimized and unfairly treated in our lives (the effect). It is an absolutely bizarre strategy, but our secret wish is fulfilled within the dream every time we feel we are suffering unjustifiably at the hands of another. Because we keep this wish buried, it appears as if we are innocent victims; but we are anything but innocent. Contrary to our experience, the world is not the cause of our misery and problems. “Perception is a result and not a cause” (T.21.in.1:8) . The world with its potential for inflicting suffering and the bodies within the world that can be so afflicted are both the fulfillment of the mind’s secret wish to have an existence of its own but to make it appear that it is not responsible for it. Correcting this delusion is the objective of Jesus’ curriculum in his course. But the effectiveness of this correction rests on our willingness to question the validity of our perceptions about ourselves and the world. We must get to the point where we are open to viewing ourselves and everyone else in the world — and the very world itself — as figures in a dream.
For further study, we refer you to some sections in the text that discuss these ideas: “The Basis of the Dream” (T.18.II); “The Dreamer of the Dream” (T.27.VII); “The ‘Hero’ of the Dream” (T.27.VIII) .