ACIM Text Reading for March 14
The creative power of God and His creations is limitless, but they are not in reciprocal relationship. You communicate fully with God, as He does with you. This is an ongoing process in which you share, and because you share it, you are inspired to create like God. Yet in creation you are not in a reciprocal relation to God, since He created you but you did not create Him. I have already told you that only in this respect your creative power differs from His. Even in this world there is a parallel. Parents give birth to children, but children do not give birth to parents. They do, however, give birth to their children, and thus give birth as their parents do.
If you created God and He created you, the Kingdom could not increase through its own creative thought. Creation would therefore be limited, and you would not be co-creators with God. As God’s creative Thought proceeds from Him to you, so must your creative thought proceed from you to your creations. Only in this way can all creative power extend outward. God’s accomplishments are not yours, but yours are like His. He created the Sonship and you increase it. You have the power to add to the Kingdom, though not to add to the Creator of the Kingdom. You claim this power when you become vigilant only for God and His Kingdom. By accepting this power as yours you have learned to remember what you are.
Your creations belong in you, as you belong in God. You are part of God, as your sons are part of His Sons. To create is to love. Love extends outward simply because it cannot be contained. Being limitless it does not stop. It creates forever, but not in time. God’s creations have always been, because He has always been. Your creations have always been, because you can create only as God creates. Eternity is yours, because He created you eternal.
The ego, on the other hand, always demands reciprocal rights, because it is competitive rather than loving. It is always willing to strike a bargain, but it cannot understand that to be like another means that no bargains are possible. To gain you must give, not bargain. To bargain is to limit giving, and this is not God’s Will. To will with God is to create like Him. God does not limit His gifts in any way. You are His gifts, and so your gifts must be like His. Your gifts to the Kingdom must be like His gifts to you.
I gave only love to the Kingdom because I believed that was what I was. What you believe you are determines your gifts, and if God created you by extending Himself as you, you can only extend yourself as He did. Only joy increases forever, since joy and eternity are inseparable. God extends outward beyond limits and beyond time, and you who are co-creator with Him extend His Kingdom forever and beyond limit. Eternity is the indelible stamp of creation. The eternal are in peace and joy forever.
To think like God is to share His certainty of what you are, and to create like Him is to share the perfect Love He shares with you. To this the Holy Spirit leads you, that your joy may be complete because the Kingdom of God is whole. I have said that the last step in the reawakening of knowledge is taken by God. This is true, but it is hard to explain in words because words are symbols, and nothing that is true need be explained. However, the Holy Spirit has the task of translating the useless into the useful, the meaningless into the meaningful, and the temporary into the timeless. He can therefore tell you something about this last step.
God does not take steps, because His accomplishments are not gradual. He does not teach, because His creations are changeless. He does nothing last, because He created first and for always. It must be understood that the word ‘first’ as applied to Him is not a time concept. He is first in the sense that He is the First in the Holy Trinity Itself. He is the Prime Creator, because He created His co-creators. Because He did, time applies neither to Him nor to what He created. The ‘last step’ that God will take was therefore true in the beginning, is true now, and will be true forever. What is timeless is always there, because its being is eternally changeless. It does not change by increase, because it was forever created to increase. If you perceive it as not increasing you do not know what it is. You also do not know Who created it. God does not reveal this to you because it was never hidden. His light was never obscured, because it is His Will to share it. How can what is fully shared be withheld and then revealed?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 14
Today we will review the following:
(11) My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.
Since the thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything, the world that pictures them can have no meaning. What is producing this world is insane, and so is what it produces. Reality is not insane, and I have real thoughts as well as insane ones. I can therefore see a real world, if I look to my real thoughts as my guide for seeing.
(12) I am upset because I see a meaningless world.
Insane thoughts are upsetting. They produce a world in which there is no order anywhere. Only chaos rules a world that represents chaotic thinking, and chaos has no laws. I cannot live in peace in such a world. I am grateful that this world is not real, and that I need not see it at all unless I choose to value it. And I do not choose to value what is totally insane and has no meaning.
(13) A meaningless world engenders fear.
The totally insane engenders fear because it is completely undependable, and offers no grounds for trust. Nothing in madness is dependable. It holds out no safety and no hope. But such a world is not real. I have given it the illusion of reality, and have suffered from my belief in it. Now I choose to withdraw this belief, and place my trust in reality. In choosing this, I will escape all the effects of the world of fear, because I am acknowledging that it does not exist.
(14) God did not create a meaningless world.
How can a meaningless world exist if God did not create it? He is the Source of all meaning, and everything that is real is in His Mind. It is in my mind too, because He created it with me. Why should I continue to suffer from the effects of my own insane thoughts, when the perfection of creation is my home? Let me remember the power of my decision, and recognize where I really abide.
(15) My thoughts are images that I have made.
Whatever I see reflects my thoughts. It is my thoughts that tell me where I am and what I am. The fact that I see a world in which there is suffering and loss and death shows me that I am seeing only the representation of my insane thoughts, and am not allowing my real thoughts to cast their beneficent light on what I see. Yet God’s way is sure. The images I have made cannot prevail against Him because it is not my will that they do so. My will is His, and I will place no other gods before Him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
As I understand it, in this dream of separation my only real choice is which teacher I choose in every situation I find myself: the ego or the Holy Spirit. As for the dream itself, we are told that the script is already written. But I wonder, can I, as the dreamer of the dream, change the dream in terms of the specific events that unfold. Or can I change the dream only in terms of my perspective on the situation? In other words, is everything that I’m experiencing predestined when it comes to situations and relationships, etc.? That would mean that I’m walking through an old dream of separation, like watching an old movie, that my marriage could never have lasted longer than it did, I could never have had more than the number of children I have now, and the relationship I’m in now is already fully defined in terms of time, etc. As I’m given the opportunity to ‘save time’ by choosing the Holy Spirit as my teacher, it would mean only that I’m allowed to skip certain parts of the story. Is it like this?
But it also seems that the Course encourages us not to exchange an unholy relationship for yet another unholy relationship with someone else, as we search for happiness we will never find outside of ourselves, but instead to make the relationship we are in a holy one. This seems to indicate that we do have choices in terms of the story, the people we’re meeting, etc. So then there could be several possible versions of my lifetime. One might include two or more briefer marriages with different spouses while another might involve remaining in the same marriage for many years. But Jesus says that nothing is left to coincidence and that every meeting is planned. Or does the form simply not matter and do I just see shadows, projecting my own images on them? But then why is it that the script of my life, if it is already determined, seems to have such a significant effect on other people’s lives?
Jesus also says that what we see is the judgment we first passed on ourselves, and outside of that there is no world. Does that mean that, for example, if there is a war between the United States and Iraq, I could have done something to stop it? Did it already happen and was it corrected, so that if I’m seeing a war instead of peace, does that mean that my mind still needs to be corrected because I am still choosing the wrong teacher? Or could I have done nothing to avoid the war and do I just choose which teacher with whom to view the events. And would I see nothing but innocence on both sides if I choose the Holy Spirit?
A: To address completely all the questions and issues you’ve raised could take a book (and there is a book, A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles by Kenneth Wapnick, which you may find helpful to amplify some of the points that we’ll address briefly here).
The Course does say that our only real choice is between the ego and Holy Spirit, the emphasis being on “real.” But within the dream, there are nearly an infinite number — although not infinite, only nearly infinite, because the ego can not make anything that is either infinite or eternal (T.4.I.11:7) — of alternatives we can choose among at the level of form. But their underlying content is all the same — sin, guilt and fear – and so the Course emphasizes that there is no real choice among alternatives that are really all the same. Meaningful choice can be made only on the level of content and so the only real choice is between the guilt and fear of the ego and the forgiveness and love of the Holy Spirit. So, yes, there are many different forms or sequences of events that our lives may take as a result of our seeming choices, but so long as we are choosing with the ego, believing that happiness can be found outside ourselves, nothing will really change, although our circumstances and relationships may alter significantly. By the way, the Course does not actually encourage us to remain physically in a relationship in order to make it holy — it never advises us on the level of specifics or form. When it cautions us about “getting rid of your brother” (T.17.V.7:2), it is speaking of how we are perceiving our brother in our mind, including in particular all of the special fantasies we have associated with him that are no longer being fulfilled.
Now the Course also says, as you remark, that the script is already written (W.pI.158.4:3) and that everything in time has already happened, so that our lives are nothing more than seeing “the journey from where it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (4:5). And while Jesus says that nothing happens by chance, he is clearly attributing the responsibility for choice for all the experiences of our lives to our own mind (T-21.II.3:1,2,3). But this does not mean that everything in our lives is predetermined, that the sequence of events is fixed. We are always choosing from an array of many possible events that have all already occurred, but the unique sequencing and the vast number of past events we’re choosing from, combined with our repressing any memory of any of them and our belief that time itself is both real and linear, add to the feeling that it is all new. And this is all part of the ego defense to mislead us into believing something new and meaningful is happening in our lives, reinforcing the foolish hope that somehow this time our ego choice in the world of form will have a better outcome.
To understand the seeming effect of our lives on each other, we need to step back and look from outside the dream of the world, and return our attention to the mind where all choices are really being made. The nearly infinite number of possible events in time was written in one instant by the one (collective) mind, joined with the ego, before the fragmentary projection out into the world of separate individuals and lives seemed to happen. As Jesus explains, “time but lasted an instant in your mind, with no effect upon eternity. And so is all time past…The tiny tick of time in which the first mistake was made, and all of them with that one mistake” (T.26.3:3,4,5, italics added).
Now my individual dream is separate and can not truly be shared with anyone else. But since all minds are joined, any decision that I make to interact as a body with you, or that you make to interact as a body with me, must always reflect an agreement we both have made together, at the level of mind outside of time and space, to replay certain events in time and space that have already happened. And this joint agreement must be kept buried in our unconscious if it is to be effective in supporting the ego’s purpose of separation and victimization.
Jesus speaks of this joint decision, specifically in the context of our agreement to be hurt by each other, as “the secret vow that you have made with every brother that would walk apart.…Unstated and unheard in consciousness…it is a promise to another to be hurt by him, and to attack him in return.…so that [the body] will suffer pain. It is the obvious effect of what was made in secret, in agreement with another’s secret wish to be apart from you, as you would be apart from him. Unless you both agree that is your wish, it can have no effects” (T.28.VI.4:3,6,7; 5:1,2,3). This hidden joint agreement to seem to be affected by each other must be the case, for otherwise we would be the victim of each other’s decisions. While this joint agreement about form is true at a metaphysical level, at a practical level it is much more helpful to focus on the fact that in the world, as the physical self with which I identify, I am not able to control what others do, but I nevertheless always have a choice about how I will perceive what is happening in my life. I can decide which teacher I will invite in, and whether I will see my peace of mind as dependent only on my own choice — as the Holy Spirit would teach — or whether I choose to see others as having power to take away my peace of mind — accepting the ego’s teaching that I can be victimized and therefore am not responsible for how I feel.
As to whether or not a healed mind sees war and has any choice about it, it is apparent that Jesus recognizes the conflicts of our ego — he spends a great deal of the Course pointing out the ego’s sick dynamics to us — but that does not mean his mind is not healed. What is important is that he is not judging us as he uncovers our ego’s machinations. He sees everything as either an extension of love or a call for it (T.12.I.3:1,2,3,4). When we are joined with Jesus in our minds, we will see any conflict in the world, at either an individual or an international level, in that same light. We will not deny what our eyes see, but our interpretation will be different from the world’s interpretation. In the context of sickness, the Course observes that “the body’s eyes will continue to see differences. But the mind that has let itself be healed will no longer acknowledge them. There will be those who seem to be ‘sicker’ than others, and the body’s eyes will report their changed appearances as before. But the healed mind will put them all in one category; they are unreal” (M-8.6:1-4). And this healed perception can arise only after our mind has released its belief in the value of conflict and war as a means for projecting the guilt of separation outside of our own mind. We may have agreed to participate in a collective dream where an external war is played out in order to reinforce the ego’s perception of the world as one of victims and victimizers – but we can in any instant ask for help, first recognizing the ego’s purpose for war and then deciding we no longer wish to reinforce that insanity in our own mind. And before we would see innocence on all sides of the conflict, we would first see the insanity on all sides, and recognize it is the same insanity we share with everyone else when we are identified with the ego.