ACIM Text Reading for April 8
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
VII. The Two Evaluations
God’s Will is your salvation. Would He not have given you the means to find it? If He wills you to have it, He must have made it possible and easy to obtain it. Your brothers are everywhere. You do not have to seek far for salvation. Every minute and every second gives you a chance to save yourself. Do not lose these chances, not because they will not return, but because delay of joy is needless. God wills you perfect happiness now. Is it possible that this is not also your will? And is it possible that this is not also the will of your brothers?
Consider, then, that in this joint will you are all united, and in this only. There may be disagreement on anything else, but not on this. This, then, is where peace abides. And you abide in peace when you so decide. Yet you cannot abide in peace unless you accept the Atonement, because the Atonement is the way to peace. The reason is very simple, and so obvious that it is often overlooked. The ego is afraid of the obvious, since obviousness is the essential characteristic of reality. Yet you cannot overlook it unless you are not looking.
It is perfectly obvious that if the Holy Spirit looks with love on all He perceives, He looks with love on you. His evaluation of you is based on His knowledge of what you are, and so He evaluates you truly. And this evaluation must be in your mind, because He is. The ego is also in your mind, because you have accepted it there. Its evaluation of you, however, is the exact opposite of the Holy Spirit’s, because the ego does not love you. It is unaware of what you are, and wholly mistrustful of everything it perceives because its perceptions are so shifting. The ego is therefore capable of suspiciousness at best and viciousness at worst. That is its range. It cannot exceed it because of its uncertainty. And it can never go beyond it because it can never be certain.
You, then, have two conflicting evaluations of yourself in your mind, and they cannot both be true. You do not yet realise how completely different these evaluations are, because you do not understand how lofty the Holy Spirit’s perception of you really is. He is not deceived by anything you do, because He never forgets what you are. The ego is deceived by everything you do, especially when you respond to the Holy Spirit, because at such times its confusion increases. The ego is, therefore, particularly likely to attack you when you react lovingly, because it has evaluated you as unloving and you are going against its judgement. The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased. Yet it is surely pointless to attack in return. What can this mean except that you are agreeing with the ego’s evaluation of what you are?
If you choose to see yourself as unloving you will not be happy. You are condemning yourself and must therefore regard yourself as inadequate. Would you look to the ego to help you escape from a sense of inadequacy it has produced, and must maintain for its existence? Can you escape from its evaluation of you by using its methods for keeping this picture intact?
You cannot evaluate an insane belief system from within it. Its range precludes this. You can only go beyond it, look back from a point where sanity exists and see the contrast. Only by this contrast can insanity be judged as insane. With the grandeur of God in you, you have chosen to be little and to lament your littleness. Within the system that dictated this choice the lament is inevitable. Your littleness is taken for granted there and you do not ask, ‘Who granted it?’ The question is meaningless within the ego’s thought system, because it would open the whole thought system to question.
I have said that the ego does not know what a real question is. Lack of knowledge of any kind is always associated with unwillingness to know, and this produces a total lack of knowledge simply because knowledge is total. Not to question your littleness therefore is to deny all knowledge, and keep the ego’s whole thought system intact. You cannot retain part of a thought system, because it can be questioned only at its foundation. And this must be questioned from beyond it, because within it its foundation does stand. The Holy Spirit judges against the reality of the ego’s thought system merely because He knows its foundation is not true. Therefore, nothing that arises from it means anything. He judges every belief you hold in terms of where it comes from. If it comes from God, He knows it to be true. If it does not, He knows that it is meaningless.
Whenever you question your value, say:
Remember this when the ego speaks, and you will not hear it. The truth about you is so lofty that nothing unworthy of God is worthy of you. Choose, then, what you want in these terms, and accept nothing that you would not offer to God as wholly fitting for Him. You do not want anything else. Return your part to Him, and He will give you all of Himself in exchange for the return of what belongs to Him and renders Him complete.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 8
Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved.
A problem cannot be solved if you do not know what it is. Even if it is really solved already you will still have the problem, because you will not recognize that it has been solved. This is the situation of the world. The problem of separation, which is really the only problem, has already been solved. Yet the solution is not recognized because the problem is not recognized.
Everyone in this world seems to have his own special problems. Yet they are all the same, and must be recognized as one if the one solution that solves them all is to be accepted. Who can see that a problem has been solved if he thinks the problem is something else? Even if he is given the answer, he cannot see its relevance.
That is the position in which you find yourself now. You have the answer, but you are still uncertain about what the problem is. A long series of different problems seems to confront you, and as one is settled the next one and the next arise. There seems to be no end to them. There is no time in which you feel completely free of problems and at peace.
The temptation to regard problems as many is the temptation to keep the problem of separation unsolved. The world seems to present you with a vast number of problems, each requiring a different answer. This perception places you in a position in which your problem solving must be inadequate, and failure is inevitable.
No one could solve all the problems the world appears to hold. They seem to be on so many levels, in such varying forms and with such varied content, that they confront you with an impossible situation. Dismay and depression are inevitable as you regard them. Some spring up unexpectedly, just as you think you have resolved the previous ones. Others remain unsolved under a cloud of denial, and rise to haunt you from time to time, only to be hidden again but still unsolved.
All this complexity is but a desperate attempt not to recognize the problem, and therefore not to let it be resolved. If you could recognize that your only problem is separation, no matter what form it takes, you could accept the answer because you would see its relevance. Perceiving the underlying constancy in all the problems that seem to confront you, you would understand that you have the means to solve them all. And you would use the means, because you recognize the problem.
In our longer practice periods today we will ask what the problem is, and what is the answer to it. We will not assume that we already know. We will try to free our minds of all the many different kinds of problems we think we have. We will try to realize that we have only one problem, which we have failed to recognize. We will ask what it is, and wait for the answer. We will be told. Then we will ask for the solution to it. And we will be told.
The exercises for today will be successful to the extent to which you do not insist on defining the problem. Perhaps you will not succeed in letting all your preconceived notions go, but that is not necessary. All that is necessary is to entertain some doubt about the reality of your version of what your problems are. You are trying to recognize that you have been given the answer by recognizing the problem, so that the problem and the answer can be brought together and you can be at peace.
The shorter practice periods for today will not be set by time, but by need. You will see many problems today, each one calling for an answer. Our efforts will be directed toward recognizing that there is only one problem and one answer. In this recognition are all problems resolved. In this recognition there is peace.
Be not deceived by the form of problems today. Whenever any difficulty seems to rise, tell yourself quickly:
Let me recognize this problem so it can be solved.
Then try to suspend all judgment about what the problem is. If possible, close your eyes for a moment and ask what it is. You will be heard and you will be answered.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #766: Lately I have been waking with thoughts, ideas or concepts from A Course in Miracles fresh in my awareness. For example: recently the thought has reoccurred that “He knows what you have made and can transform this from a dream of hate to one of peace.” It’s not so much that I “hear” any kind of a voice but more that I have these thoughts with me as I wake up in the morning or during the night. It is probably impossible for you to determine what is going on here, but how do I know that this is not a trick of the ego or the intercession of Course principles in my right mind? There must be some level of the mind that the Course reaches/works with us on that does not require our conscious awareness or involvement, no? Could this be the “little willingness” that Jesus speaks of?
A: Although we are unable to comment on your individual experiences, we can say in general that it would not be unusual for ideas or passages from the Course to stay with people and just be there when they awake in the morning or at night. Other students have spoken of this and have also said that ideas sometimes just pop into their minds — a kind of “hearing” — while they are going about their daily activities, not even thinking of the Course. The processing of our study and practice is carried on largely, as you suggest, beneath the level of our conscious awareness; the contents of both the wrong and right minds are for the most part unconscious. Therefore, it would not be surprising that thoughts or words could seem to appear out of nowhere. Our “little willingness” to have Jesus be our teacher has mighty effects in our minds, of which we are mostly unaware.
It may take many, many years of diligent practice before we are able to discern consistently what is coming from our ego and what is from the Holy Spirit or Jesus. If what you hear helps you become more kind, forgiving, and less guilty and judgmental, then just leave it at that. What is most important is not to make it into a big deal, which would happen if you felt a need to run to other people and tell them what happened. This need could well be manifesting the attraction to spiritual specialness. That, of course, is different from asking a question, such as you have done here. This Course is about your relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and bringing your ego to that light and love in your mind. That is where the focus of every student should be. Your trust in the process will develop gradually.
A: Sorry, no. And the reason is simple: this is what got us into trouble in the first place. Having our cake and eating too is another way of saying separation can work, that we can have Heaven and hell, specialness and peace, individuality and God, wholeness and a split mind. What’s more, even a fleeting look at the world tells us that is it not very amusing. It was made as an attack on God (W.pII.3.2:1) , and it shows: “Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so . Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing. And through its perceived reality has entered all the world of sick illusions. (T.26.VI.1:1,2,3,4,5, italics ours). In a simple and clear statement in the text of A Course in Miracles , Jesus also tells us: “ It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain”(T.19.IV.B.12:1). However, in accord with the insanity of the ego’s thought system, we have taught ourselves that there are pleasurable things in the world that are preferable to Heaven. The universally acclaimed favorite is specialness, which, in spite of causing us great misery and tribulation, we find superior to the Identity God gave us as His One Son. We have taken great pains (literally) to contrive ingenious ways of convincing ourselves that there is happiness in the illusion. What we actually find in the “beauty” of some aspects of nature and some personal relationships is the satisfaction of having our needs and expectations met, and living “proof” that the world is real. However beautiful these things and relationships may seem to be, their purpose is a vicious attack on God’s Son, in that they have been chosen as a substitute for the Father’s Love. By choosing to identify with the ego, and therefore with the body, we have turned away from His Love. This can only lead to deep pain, which is covered over by the endless pursuit of comfort and joy on the world’s terms. It is endless because it does not satisfy the longing for our true Identity, which lies buried beneath the guilt for choosing the separation.
So it is a bitter cake we bake when we seek for meaning in the meaninglessness of the illusion. We do have it, we are eating it, and it has made us sick. We have done this, just as children who overdose on sugar, because we are confused about our identity, and therefore confused about pain and joy: “ What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain” (T.7.X.3:6). Our real “cake” is learning that we are minds, not bodies, that the world is not our home, and we will never be happy here. “Eating” it means accepting that we are God’s innocent Son at home with Him.
Since Jesus knows we are afraid of this truth, he offers us great comfort: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition” (T.16.VI.8:1,2). Nothing in the process of learning is forced upon us, for no one truly learns under duress. Our healing, therefore, keeps pace with our fear. As fear decreases healing increases to whatever extent we are willing and never without our consent. The things we seek in the world, fear of losing them, and fear of accepting our truth all serve the same purpose of keeping us grounded in the belief that the separation is real. It is not a sin to eat and enjoy the ego’s cake, but it will not bring us the happiness we seek. When tempted to indulge it may be helpful to remember that to turn to the Holy Spirit is an alternative that will not hurt: “The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. Surely no one would object to this goal if he recognized it” (T.7.X.3:1,2) . The peace Jesus promises is not found in the world. It is the true peace found in the forgiving mind, that is not contingent upon our cakes.
Q #768: I have been advised by a magistrate and a lawyer to request that a psychological evaluation be done on my ex-husband because his anger over our divorce continues to escalate. We are not able to communicate regarding our daughter and have been through domestic violence court, and through several hearings where my ex-husband continues to try increase his visitation to the point where she would eventually live with him. In studying A Course in Miracles , I have learned to pray for myself, to recognize that we are all children of God, that there is a divine spirit within all of us, and yet I am fearful for myself and my daughter and my ex because of his volatile anger. Is taking legal action against him the right thing to do?
A: The teachings of A Course in Miracles are focused on changing our minds, and therefore do not provide specific guidelines for behavior. Although Jesus invites us to leave behind the ego’s perspective and allow it to be replaced by the Holy Spirit’s, he does not tell us to deny our experience on the level of form. We therefore take care of our bodies in the normal way, keeping them healthy and safe. This often means taking steps to keep someone from hurting themselves and/or others, which can sometimes be accomplished through legal action. It is certainly possible to practice forgiveness as the Course teaches while initiating legal proceedings, if that is what you think you should do. Since the foundation of the world is the belief in the ego’s thought system of attack and counter-attack, everything and everyone in it engage in destructive behavior to some degree. That is the inevitable expression of the separated Son’s desperate call for help. What we are asked to do is look at any judgments we may have toward the person, seeing in them the projection of our own desperate call for help. Once we recognize how our fears are mirrored in the other person, we have the opportunity to forgive ourselves, asking the Holy Spirit to replace our judgments against ourselves and our brother with His. This process establishes that whatever we do or don’t do with regard to another’s behavior will be guided by the Holy Spirit rather than by the ego. Taking legal action is appropriate in certain circumstances; it does not mean, however, that the other party is a guilty sinner, worthy of God’s punishment, as the ego would have us believe. The choice is not what course of action to pursue, but whose counsel we seek: the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s. In this light we may paraphrase the oft quoted line from the text : “seek not to change your brother, but choose to change your mind about your brother” (T.21.in.1:7).
Recognizing someone’s volatile behavior as a call for help does not mean not paying attention to the form the call takes. This is true for everyone involved in your family’s crisis. As Jesus tells us in the text: “…frightened people can be vicious” (T.3.I.4:2). While steps are taken to protect yourself, your child, and your husband on the level of form, you may remember that these steps are the expression of your call to the Holy Spirit for help. It is important not to deny the fear that underlies the perceived need for protection, or any other need. What is not denied can be transformed by the Holy Spirit, so that whatever happens you will experience peace in your mind. It is to this peace, rather than any specific behavior, that the Holy Spirit guides us.