ACIM Text Reading for April 2
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
IX. Healing as Corrected Perception
I said before that the Holy Spirit is the Answer. He is the Answer to everything, because He knows what the answer to everything is. The ego does not know what a real question is, although it asks an endless number. Yet you can learn this as you learn to question the value of the ego, and thus establish your ability to evaluate its questions. When the ego tempts you to sickness do not ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body, for this would merely be to accept the ego’s belief that the body is the proper aim of healing. Ask, rather, that the Holy Spirit teach you the right perception of the body, for perception alone can be distorted. Only perception can be sick, because only perception can be wrong.
Wrong perception is the wish that things be as they are not. The reality of everything is totally harmless, because total harmlessness is the condition of its reality. It is also the condition of your awareness of its reality. You do not have to seek reality. It will seek you and find you when you meet its conditions. Its conditions are part of what it is. And this part only is up to you. The rest is of itself. You need do so little because your little part is so powerful that it will bring the whole to you. Accept, then, your little part, and let the whole be yours.
Wholeness heals because it is of the mind. All forms of sickness, even unto death, are physical expressions of the fear of awakening. They are attempts to reinforce sleeping out of fear of waking. This is a pathetic way of trying not to see by rendering the faculties for seeing ineffectual. ‘Rest in peace’ is a blessing for the living, not the dead, because rest comes from waking, not from sleeping. Sleep is withdrawing; waking is joining. Dreams are illusions of joining, because they reflect the ego’s distorted notions about what joining is. Yet the Holy Spirit, too, has use for sleep, and can use dreams on behalf of waking if you will let Him.
How you wake is the sign of how you have used sleep. To whom did you give it? Under which teacher did you place it? Whenever you wake dispiritedly, it was not given to the Holy Spirit. Only when you awaken joyously have you utilised sleep according to His purpose. You can indeed be ‘drugged’ by sleep, if you have misused it on behalf of sickness. Sleep is no more a form of death than death is a form of unconsciousness. Complete unconsciousness is impossible. You can rest in peace only because you are awake.
Healing is release from the fear of waking and the substitution of the decision to wake. The decision to wake is the reflection of the will to love, since all healing involves replacing fear with love. The Holy Spirit cannot distinguish among degrees of error, for if He taught that one form of sickness is more serious than another, He would be teaching that one error can be more real than another. His function is to distinguish only between the false and the true, replacing the false with the true.
The ego, which always wants to weaken the mind, tries to separate it from the body in an attempt to destroy it. Yet the ego actually believes that it is protecting it. This is because the ego believes that mind is dangerous, and that to make mindless is to heal. But to make mindless is impossible, since it would mean to make nothing out of what God created. The ego despises weakness, even though it makes every effort to induce it. The ego wants only what it hates. To the ego this is perfectly sensible. Believing in the power of attack, the ego wants attack.
The Bible enjoins you to be perfect, to heal all errors, to take no thought of the body as separate and to accomplish all things in my name. This is not my name alone, for ours is a shared identification. The Name of God’s Son is one, and you are enjoined to do the works of love because we share this oneness. Our minds are whole because they are one. If you are sick you are withdrawing from me. Yet you cannot withdraw from me alone. You can only withdraw from yourself and me.
You have surely begun to realise that this is a very practical course, and one that means exactly what it says. I would not ask you to do things you cannot do, and it is impossible that I could do things you cannot do. Given this, and given this quite literally, nothing can prevent you from doing exactly what I ask, and everything argues for your doing it. I give you no limits because God lays none upon you. When you limit yourself we are not of one mind, and that is sickness. Yet sickness is not of the body, but of the mind. All forms of sickness are signs that the mind is split, and does not accept a unified purpose.
The unification of purpose, then, is the Holy Spirit’s only way of healing. This is because it is the only level at which healing means anything. The re-establishing of meaning in a chaotic thought system is the way to heal it. Your task is only to meet the conditions for meaning, since meaning itself is of God. Yet your return to meaning is essential to His, because your meaning is part of His. Your healing, then, is part of His health, since it is part of His Wholeness. He cannot lose this, but you can not know it. Yet it is still His Will for you, and His Will must stand forever and in all things.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 2
Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation.
While we have recognized that the ego’s plan for salvation is the opposite of God’s, we have not yet emphasized that it is an active attack on His plan, and a deliberate attempt to destroy it. In the attack, God is assigned the attributes which are actually associated with the ego, while the ego appears to take on the attributes of God.
The ego’s fundamental wish is to replace God. In fact, the ego is the physical embodiment of that wish. For it is that wish that seems to surround the mind with a body, keeping it separate and alone, and unable to reach other minds except through the body that was made to imprison it. The limit on communication cannot be the best means to expand communication. Yet the ego would have you believe that it is.
Although the attempt to keep the limitations that a body would impose is obvious here, it is perhaps not so apparent why holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation. But let us consider the kinds of things you are apt to hold grievances for. Are they not always associated with something a body does? A person says something you do not like. He does something that displeases you. He “betrays” his hostile thoughts in his behavior.
You are not dealing here with what the person is. On the contrary, you are exclusively concerned with what he does in a body. You are doing more than failing to help in freeing him from the body’s limitations. You are actively trying to hold him to it by confusing it with him, and judging them as one. Herein is God attacked, for if His Son is only a body, so must He be as well. A creator wholly unlike his creation is inconceivable.
If God is a body, what must His plan for salvation be? What could it be but death? In trying to present Himself as the Author of life and not of death, He is a liar and a deceiver, full of false promises and offering illusions in place of truth. The body’s apparent reality makes this view of God quite convincing. In fact, if the body were real, it would be difficult indeed to escape this conclusion. And every grievance that you hold insists that the body is real. It overlooks entirely what your brother is. It reinforces your belief that he is a body, and condemns him for it. And it asserts that his salvation must be death, projecting this attack onto God, and holding Him responsible for it.
To this carefully prepared arena, where angry animals seek for prey and mercy cannot enter, the ego comes to save you. God made you a body. Very well. Let us accept this and be glad. As a body, do not let yourself be deprived of what the body offers. Take the little you can get. God gave you nothing. The body is your only savior. It is the death of God and your salvation.
This is the universal belief of the world you see. Some hate the body, and try to hurt and humiliate it. Others love the body, and try to glorify and exalt it. But while the body stands at the center of your concept of yourself, you are attacking God’s plan for salvation, and holding your grievances against Him and His creation, that you may not hear the Voice of truth and welcome It as Friend. Your chosen savior takes His place instead. It is your friend; He is your enemy.
We will try today to stop these senseless attacks on salvation. We will try to welcome it instead. Your upside-down perception has been ruinous to your peace of mind. You have seen yourself in a body and the truth outside you, locked away from your awareness by the body’s limitations. Now we are going to try to see this differently.
The light of truth is in us, where it was placed by God. It is the body that is outside us, and is not our concern. To be without a body is to be in our natural state. To recognize the light of truth in us is to recognize ourselves as we are. To see our Self as separate from the body is to end the attack on God’s plan for salvation, and to accept it instead. And wherever His plan is accepted, it is accomplished already.
Our goal in the longer practice periods today is to become aware that God’s plan for salvation has already been accomplished in us. To achieve this goal, we must replace attack with acceptance. As long as we attack it, we cannot understand what God’s plan for us is. We are therefore attacking what we do not recognize. Now we are going to try to lay judgment aside, and ask what God’s plan for us is:
What is salvation, Father? I do not know.
Tell me, that I may understand.
Then we will wait in quiet for His answer. We have attacked God’s plan for salvation without waiting to hear what it is. We have shouted our grievances so loudly that we have not listened to His Voice. We have used our grievances to close our eyes and stop our ears.
Now we would see and hear and learn. “What is salvation, Father?” Ask and you will be answered. Seek and you will find. We are no longer asking the ego what salvation is and where to find it. We are asking it of truth. Be certain, then, that the answer will be true because of Whom you ask.
Whenever you feel your confidence wane and your hope of success flicker and go out, repeat your question and your request, remembering that you are asking of the infinite Creator of infinity, Who created you like Himself:
What is salvation, Father? I do not know.
Tell me, that I may understand.
He will answer. Be determined to hear.
One or perhaps two shorter practice periods an hour will be enough for today, since they will be somewhat longer than usual. These exercises should begin with this:
Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation.
Let me accept it instead. What is salvation, Father?
Then wait a minute or so in silence, preferably with your eyes closed, and listen for His answer.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #149: If one is terribly ill and in pain with cancer and, as a student of A Course in Miracles, strives to have the Holy Spirit help with forgiveness and peace in the matter, but still suffers physically, what does this mean? The Course indicates that when our mind is healed we will feel no pain.
A: You already know the answer to your question! When our mind is healed, we will feel no pain. Until our mind is healed, we will feel pain. And because our mind is not healed, we will experience pain as if it were in the body, caused by factors outside of our control, rather than recognizing that it is in the mind that has thought it could separate itself from love — a very painful state. And that is how we protect the thought of separation in our split mind.
We use pain to convince ourselves that the body is real, for we still want the body to be real. Jesus tells us that “pain is a wrong perspective. When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception… Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is… The body is the Son of God, corruptible in death” (W.pI.190.1:1,2; 2:3; 3:7).
What is most important though is that, while we continue to experience pain — whether it’s the pain of cancer or the pain of a broken leg or the pain of emotional abuse or any other form of pain we experience — we do not judge ourselves for feeling it. That would serve no purpose but the ego’s. Because of our fear of losing ourselves, we heal the pain in our mind through forgiveness in small steps.
And in those moments when we accept that we do not know the truth about ourselves but there is a Comforter Who does, with Whom we are always joined in perfect peace and joy, then the seemingly painful concerns of the body will fade from our awareness. Because of our fear, we will most likely not be ready to embrace fully the healing in the mind and release our limited bodily identity, and so we will turn again back to pain for the defense that it provides. But with each moment of recognition, shared in the holy instant of healing, our investment in guilt and pain will diminish. And we will never again be totally convinced that the world, or anything outside our mind, can cause us pain.
For a consideration of some other issues related to the question you raise, you may also wish to look at Question #142.
Q #150: I attacked someone but the next day I imploringly asked for forgiveness and truly forgave all that had hurt me and made me attack. Since then, however, because of the attack, the other person has broken off all communication. I have tried to renew it but without success. Keeping in mind that it was my attack in the first place that brought this situation about, how can I look at it with Jesus and regain my peace of mind? Obviously I have caused irrevocable pain.
A: You may first want to begin by looking at the thought that you have caused “irrevocable pain.” Believe it or not, it is arrogant to claim such power for yourself. You may have reinforced a perception of pain that your friend already held, but you can not be the cause of it. To believe that you could is to deny the power of your friend’s mind to choose its experiences, and to see your mind as more powerful. And that is the arrogance.
This is not to say that you may not have been unkind, even cruel, in your attack. But none of us can feel attacked unless we want to feel attacked (T.28.VI.4:3,4,5,6,7). And we all want to feel attacked so that the guilt we carry in our own mind over the separation — believing we have attacked and destroyed God (another arrogant thought!) — can be projected on to someone else.
The pain is already there in each of our own minds, by our own choice, caused by our own thoughts (W.pI.190.5:1,2,3,4,5). When we think we feel pain over someone else’s attack, the pain that has always been there in our mind is just brought to the surface so that we can attribute it to someone else — always the ego’s goal.
So, in genuine humility, let yourself off the hook for how your friend feels. If you can recognize that this friend simply shares the same ego-based thought system that you do, and that you both have been calling out for the help that only forgiveness can offer, then you can become a reminder to your friend that you both have the same choice to see the situation differently. And that is all that you need to do. That recognition in your mind reinforces the power of decision in your friend’s mind to make a different choice about how to perceive the situation. Whether you at this point say or do anything else with your friend will not be your concern. Nor will your friend’s readiness to accept what you are offering be your concern. For you will have placed the Holy Spirit in charge of the forgiveness process, knowing that whatever is needed for healing has already been provided.