ACIM Text Reading for March 12
Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
V. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit
B. To Have Peace, Teach Peace to Learn It
All who believe in separation have a basic fear of retaliation and abandonment. They believe in attack and rejection, so that is what they perceive and teach and learn. These insane ideas are clearly the result of dissociation and projection. What you teach you are, but it is quite apparent that you can teach wrongly, and can therefore teach yourself wrong. Many thought I was attacking them, even though it was apparent I was not. An insane learner learns strange lessons. What you must recognise is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them. This is because everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centres on what you believe you are. If the centre of the thought system is true, only truth extends from it. But if a lie is at its centre, only deception proceeds from it.
All good teachers realise that only fundamental change will last, but they do not begin at that level. Strengthening motivation for change is their first and foremost goal. It is also their last and final one. Increasing motivation for change in the learner is all that a teacher need do to guarantee change. Change in motivation is a change of mind, and this will inevitably produce fundamental change because the mind is fundamental.
The first step in the reversal or undoing process is the undoing of the getting concept. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit’s first lesson was ‘To have, give all to all’. I said that this is apt to increase conflict temporarily, and we can clarify this still further now. At this point, the equality of having and being is not yet perceived. Until it is, having appears to be the opposite of giving. Therefore, the first lesson seems to contain a contradiction, since it is being learned by a conflicted mind. This means conflicting motivation, and so the lesson cannot be learned consistently as yet. Further, the mind of the learner projects its own conflict, and thus does not perceive consistency in the minds of others, making him suspicious of their motivation. This is the real reason why, in many respects, the first lesson is the hardest to learn. Still strongly aware of the ego in yourself, and responding primarily to the ego in others, you are being taught to react to both as if what you do believe is not true.
Upside down as always, the ego perceives the first lesson as insane. In fact, this is its only alternative since the other possibility, which would be much less acceptable to it, would obviously be that it is insane. The ego’s judgement, here as always, is predetermined by what it is. The fundamental change will still occur with the change of mind in the thinker. Meanwhile, the increasing clarity of the Holy Spirit’s Voice makes it impossible for the learner not to listen. For a time, then, he is receiving conflicting messages and accepting both.
The way out of conflict between two opposing thought systems is clearly to choose one and relinquish the other. If you identify with your thought system, and you cannot escape this, and if you accept two thought systems which are in complete disagreement, peace of mind is impossible. If you teach both, which you will surely do as long as you accept both, you are teaching conflict and learning it. Yet you do want peace, or you would not have called upon the Voice for peace to help you. Its lesson is not insane; the conflict is.
There can be no conflict between sanity and insanity. Only one is true, and therefore only one is real. The ego tries to persuade you that it is up to you to decide which voice is true, but the Holy Spirit teaches you that truth was created by God, and your decision cannot change it. As you begin to realise the quiet power of the Holy Spirit’s Voice, and Its perfect consistency, it must dawn on your mind that you are trying to undo a decision that was irrevocably made for you. That is why I suggested before that you remind yourself to allow the Holy Spirit to decide for God for you.
You are not asked to make insane decisions, although you can think you are. It must, however, be insane to believe that it is up to you to decide what God’s creations are. The Holy Spirit perceives the conflict exactly as it is. Therefore, His second lesson is:
This is still a preliminary step, since having and being are still not equated. It is, however, more advanced than the first step, which is really only the beginning of the thought reversal. The second step is a positive affirmation of what you want. This, then, is a step in the direction out of conflict, since it means that alternatives have been considered, and one has been chosen as more desirable. Nevertheless, the term ‘more desirable’ still implies that the desirable has degrees. Therefore, although this step is essential for the ultimate decision, it is clearly not the final one. Lack of order of difficulty in miracles has not yet been accepted, because nothing is difficult that is wholly desired. To desire wholly is to create, and creating cannot be difficult if God Himself created you as a creator.
The second step, then, is still perceptual, although it is a giant step toward the unified perception that reflects God’s knowing. As you take this step and hold this direction, you will be pushing toward the centre of your thought system, where the fundamental change will occur. At the second step progress is intermittent, but the second step is easier than the first because it follows. Realising that it must follow is a demonstration of a growing awareness that the Holy Spirit will lead you on.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 12
Beginning with today we will have a series of review periods. Each of them will cover five of the ideas already presented, starting with the first and ending with the fiftieth. There will be a few short comments after each of the ideas, which you should consider in your review. In the practice periods, the exercises should be done as follows:
Begin the day by reading the five ideas, with the comments included. Thereafter, it is not necessary to follow any particular order in considering them, though each one should be practiced at least once. Devote two minutes or more to each practice period, thinking about the idea and the related comments after reading them over. Do this as often as possible during the day. If any one of the five ideas appeals to you more than the others, concentrate on that one. At the end of the day, however, be sure to review all of them once more.
It is not necessary to cover the comments that follow each idea either literally or thoroughly in the practice periods. Try, rather, to emphasize the central point, and think about it as part of your review of the idea to which it relates. After you have read the idea and the related comments, the exercises should be done with your eyes closed and when you are alone in a quiet place, if possible.
This is emphasized for practice periods at your stage of learning. It will be necessary, however, that you learn to require no special settings in which to apply what you have learned. You will need your learning most in situations that appear to be upsetting, rather than in those that already seem to be calm and quiet. The purpose of your learning is to enable you to bring the quiet with you, and to heal distress and turmoil. This is not done by avoiding them and seeking a haven of isolation for yourself.
You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are. And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.
You will note that, for review purposes, some of the ideas are not given in quite their original form. Use them as they are given here. It is not necessary to return to the original statements, nor to apply the ideas as was suggested then. We are now emphasizing the relationships among the first fifty of the ideas we have covered, and the cohesiveness of the thought system to which they are leading you.
The review for today covers the following ideas:
(1) Nothing I see means anything.
The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and nothing has no meaning. It is necessary that I recognize this, that I may learn to see. What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing it has no meaning, so that vision may take its place.
(2) I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me.
I have judged everything I look upon, and it is this and only this I see. This is not vision. It is merely an illusion of reality, because my judgments have been made quite apart from reality. I am willing to recognize the lack of validity in my judgments, because I want to see. My judgments have hurt me, and I do not want to see according to them.
(3) I do not understand anything I see.
How could I understand what I see when I have judged it amiss? What I see is the projection of my own errors of thought. I do not understand what I see because it is not understandable. There is no sense in trying to understand it. But there is every reason to let it go, and make room for what can be seen and understood and loved. I can exchange what I see now for this merely by being willing to do so. Is not this a better choice than the one I made before?
(4) These thoughts do not mean anything.
The thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything because I am trying to think without God. What I call “my” thoughts are not my real thoughts. My real thoughts are the thoughts I think with God. I am not aware of them because I have made my thoughts to take their place. I am willing to recognize that my thoughts do not mean anything, and to let them go. I choose to have them be replaced by what they were intended to replace. My thoughts are meaningless, but all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God.
(5) I am never upset for the reason I think.
I am never upset for the reason I think because I am constantly trying to justify my thoughts. I am constantly trying to make them true. I make all things my enemies, so that my anger is justified and my attacks are warranted. I have not realized how much I have misused everything I see by assigning this role to it. I have done this to defend a thought system that has hurt me, and that I no longer want. I am willing to let it go.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #133: If — as A Course in Miracles claims — thinking precedes emotion, such as anger, what about people with epilepsy or Tourette’s syndrome who apparently seem to have anger attacks without prior thought, i.e., the reaction seems to be physiological rather than psychological?
A. The thinking that is always meant in the Course is a function of a mind that is outside time and space. The body, which is comprised of both physiological and psychological dimensions, is a projection of this mind; therefore, all physical and psychological conditions are the result of a choice made by the mind. Mind in the Course is not the brain, nor is it the human mind, as theorists commonly speak of it.
In a section in the manual about sickness and healing, Jesus teaches us that sickness is “a faulty problem-solving approach,” and as such is a decision made in one’s mind. He continues: “The resistance to recognizing this is enormous, because the existence of the world as you perceive it depends on the body being the decision maker. Terms like ‘instincts,’ ‘reflexes’ and the like represent attempts to endow the body with non-mental motivators. Actually, such terms merely state or describe the problem. They do not answer it” (M.5.II.1:56,7,8,9,10).
Generally, the Course’s discussion of anger is not aimed at the type generated by epilepsy episodes or Tourette’s syndrome. However, those physiological conditions themselves are the outcome of a choice made in the mind, as is true of any disease or disability: “Sickness is anger taken out upon the body, so that it will suffer pain” (T.28.VI.5:1). “Sickness is a defense against the truth” (W.pI.136). As difficult as this is to accept, it is a source of genuine hope, because by turning to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we can be helped to look at the pain in our minds, from which all bodily states emanate as maladaptive attempts to defend against the enormity of that pain. Once we are back in touch with our decision-making ability in our minds, we can then make the choice that will restore to our awareness the eternal love and peace in which we were created.
Q #134: Recently, at a seminar, Ken discussed the illusion of a sheet of glass breaking into a trillion parts, each piece representing a person in our insane dream of this world. Are our pets also a part of this sheet of glass? Are they, too, a part of the Sonship?
A: Yes, the Sonship includes anything of form. We are so accustomed to using our human experience as a reference point that it seems strange to think of our pets — dogs, cats, snakes, frogs, birds, plants, rocks, etc. — as parts of the Sonship. We would have to step outside our human experience to comprehend it. Jesus alludes to this in speaking of the original separation in the context of the Son making a substitute for the truth: “You.…made but one substitution. It has taken many forms, because it was the substitution of illusion for truth; of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was” (T.18.I.4:1,2,3). And in another passage, Jesus refers even to “the smallest grain of sand” as part of the Sonship (T.28.IV.9:4).
The perception of qualitative differences is merely part of the ego’s strategy to sustain the illusion of separation.