ACIM Text Reading for March 26
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
II. The Difference Between Imprisonment and Freedom
There is a rationale for choice. Only one Teacher knows what your reality is. If learning to remove the obstacles to that knowledge is the purpose of the curriculum, you must learn it of Him. The ego does not know what it is trying to teach. It is trying to teach you what you are without knowing what you are. It is expert only in confusion. It does not understand anything else. As a teacher, then, the ego is totally confused and totally confusing. Even if you could disregard the Holy Spirit entirely, which is impossible, you could still learn nothing from the ego, because the ego knows nothing.
Is there any possible reason for choosing a teacher such as this? Does the total disregard of anything it teaches make anything but sense? Is this the teacher to whom a Son of God should turn to find himself? The ego has never given you a sensible answer to anything. Simply on the grounds of your own experience with its teaching, should not this alone disqualify it as your future teacher? Yet the ego has done more harm to your learning than this alone. Learning is joyful if it leads you along your natural path, and facilitates the development of what you have. When you are taught against your nature, however, you will lose by your learning because your learning will imprison you. Your will is in your nature, and therefore cannot go against it.
The ego cannot teach you anything as long as your will is free, because you will not listen to it. It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God Who coerces you, because He shares His Will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit’s lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God’s cannot be out of accord because they are one. This is the undoing of everything the ego tries to teach. It is not, then, only the direction of the curriculum that must be unconflicted, but also the content.
The ego tries to teach that you want to oppose God’s Will. This unnatural lesson cannot be learned, and the attempt to learn it is a violation of your own freedom, making you afraid of your will because it is free. The Holy Spirit opposes any imprisoning of the will of a Son of God, knowing that the will of the Son is the Father’s. The Holy Spirit leads you steadily along the path of freedom, teaching you how to disregard or look beyond everything that would hold you back.
We have said that the Holy Spirit teaches you the difference between pain and joy. That is the same as saying He teaches you the difference between imprisonment and freedom. You cannot make this distinction without Him because you have taught yourself that imprisonment is freedom. Believing them to be the same, how can you tell them apart? Can you ask the part of your mind that taught you to believe they are the same, to teach you how they are different?
The Holy Spirit’s teaching takes only one direction and has only one goal. His direction is freedom and His goal is God. Yet He cannot conceive of God without you, because it is not God’s Will to be without you. When you have learned that your will is God’s, you could no more will to be without Him than He could will to be without you. This is freedom and this is joy. Deny yourself this and you are denying God His Kingdom, because He created you for this.
When I said, ‘All power and glory are yours because the Kingdom is His’, this is what I meant. The Will of God is without limit, and all power and glory lie within it. It is boundless in strength and in love and in peace. It has no boundaries because its extension is unlimited, and it encompasses all things because it created all things. By creating all things, it made them part of itself. You are the Will of God because that is how you were created. Because your Creator creates only like Himself, you are like Him. You are part of Him Who is all power and glory, and are therefore as unlimited as He is.
To what else except all power and glory can the Holy Spirit appeal to restore God’s Kingdom? His appeal, then, is merely to what the Kingdom is, and for its own acknowledgement of what it is. When you acknowledge this you bring the acknowledgement automatically to everyone, because you have acknowledged everyone. By your recognition you awaken theirs, and through theirs yours is extended. Awakening runs easily and gladly through the Kingdom; in answer to the Call for God. This is the natural response of every Son of God to the Voice for his Creator, because It is the Voice for his creations and for his own extension.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 26
My only function is the one God gave me.
The idea for today reaffirms your commitment to salvation. It also reminds you that you have no function other than that. Both these thoughts are obviously necessary for a total commitment. Salvation cannot be the only purpose you hold while you still cherish others. The full acceptance of salvation as your only function necessarily entails two phases; the recognition of salvation as your function, and the relinquishment of all the other goals you have invented for yourself.
This is the only way in which you can take your rightful place among the saviors of the world. This is the only way in which you can say and mean, “My only function is the one God gave me.” This is the only way in which you can find peace of mind.
Today, and for a number of days to follow, set aside ten to fifteen minutes for a more sustained practice period, in which you try to understand and accept what the idea for the day really means. Today’s idea offers you escape from all your perceived difficulties. It places the key to the door of peace, which you have closed upon yourself, in your own hands. It gives you the answer to all the searching you have done since time began.
Try, if possible, to undertake the daily extended practice periods at approximately the same time each day. Try, also, to determine this time in advance, and then adhere to it as closely as possible. The purpose of this is to arrange your day so that you have set apart the time for God, as well as for all the trivial purposes and goals you will pursue. This is part of the long-range disciplinary training your mind needs, so that the Holy Spirit can use it consistently for the purpose He shares with you.
For the longer practice period, begin by reviewing the idea for the day. Then close your eyes, repeat the idea to yourself once again, and watch your mind carefully to catch whatever thoughts cross it. At first, make no attempt to concentrate only on thoughts related to the idea for the day. Rather, try to uncover each thought that arises to interfere with it. Note each one as it comes to you, with as little involvement or concern as possible, dismissing each one by telling yourself:
This thought reflects a goal that is preventing me from
accepting my only function.
After a while, interfering thoughts will become harder to find. Try, however, to continue a minute or so longer, attempting to catch a few of the idle thoughts that escaped your attention before, but do not strain or make undue effort in doing this. Then tell yourself:
On this clean slate let my true function be written for me.
You need not use these exact words, but try to get the sense of being willing to have your illusions of purpose be replaced by truth.
Finally, repeat the idea for today once more, and devote the rest of the practice period to trying to focus on its importance to you, the relief its acceptance will bring you by resolving your conflicts once and for all, and the extent to which you really want salvation in spite of your own foolish ideas to the contrary.
In the shorter practice periods, which should be undertaken at least once an hour, use this form in applying today’s idea:
My only function is the one God gave me. I want no other
and I have no other.
Sometimes close your eyes as you practice this, and sometimes keep them open and look about you. It is what you see now that will be totally changed when you accept today’s idea completely.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #153: In “To Be Or Not To Be,” Ken stated that we all attempt to cheat death in various ways, only to preserve our individuality. Within the illusion doesn’t reincarnation do the same thing? We “live,” we “die,” only to “live” again, just to keep the ego alive and well. At some point we must choose the right-minded tape….Could you please comment on this.
A. Yes, reincarnation preserves our individuality, as well as the illusion of time. However, the purpose of multiple reincarnations — as traditionally defined in the different systems — is to have as many opportunities as are needed to complete one’s learning, so that the cycle of birth and death may be ended permanently. In A Course in Miracles, as you probably know, Jesus states that “in the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth into a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense. Our only question should be, ‘Is the concept helpful?’” (M.24.1:1,2,3,4). And in the discussion that follows, he concludes that any belief that leads to progress in accepting the Atonement for ourselves should be honored (M.24.6). Thus it comes down to form and content.
Q #154: After studying A Course in Miracles for 4 years, I am currently volunteering for a Catholic organization in the Philippines, living in a small religious community and working in the slums of Manila. I was conscious of the differences between the teachings of the Course and Christian Catholicism before going to Manila, from reading Ken Wapnick’s A Course in Miracles and Christianity: A Dialogue, and Forgiveness & Jesus. However my desire to join this Christian organization was strong and I thought that it would not prevent me from studying the Course and applying its principles on my own. However, I find that I am getting more and more disturbed by joining the prayers or readings when it is proclaimed that Jesus suffered and died for our sins, etc. Even though the teachings are so different, I don’t want to use the Course to separate myself from the Christians, and I am asking you how is it possible to be faithful to the Course and to my community and avoid compromise?
A: You have placed yourself in a very challenging situation, but one in which, if you are willing, there is much you can learn on your path of forgiveness. If you can remember that the Course is only concerned about content or purpose and not form or ritual, you can use your circumstances to deepen your understanding and practice of the Course’s principles. It is only your ego that would want to make the differences in beliefs and practices a matter of judgment in order to separate yourself from the rest of your community. You are already aware of this temptation in yourself, and that is very helpful, for that is an obstacle within your mind to the experience of the love that is already present within you. You can respect your friends’ choices for their spiritual path without having to accept and embrace those beliefs for yourself. At the same time, since the Course’s focus is only on your own inner thoughts and beliefs, there is no reason that you can’t ask for the Holy Spirit’s help in using all those rituals and forms in which you are expected to participate simply as opportunities to join with them in the form in which they can accept you. For once you are able to release the judgments about the differences in beliefs that you are holding on to, all that will remain is the love within your mind that you wish to share with them. You do not describe any external conflict with the others, but only an internal conflict, and there really is no need to make them aware of your differences in belief, unless you were to feel strongly guided to do so. For your goal is not to change them but simply to accept them as they are (T.9.III.6:4).