ACIM Text Reading for April 26
THE HOLY SPIRIT’S CURRICULUM
You have been told not to make error real, and the way to do this is very simple. If you want to believe in error, you would have to make it real because it is not true. But truth is real in its own right, and to believe in truth you do not have to do anything. Understand that you do not respond to anything directly, but to your interpretation of it. Your interpretation thus becomes the justification for the response. That is why analysing the motives of others is hazardous to you. If you decide that someone is really trying to attack you or desert you or enslave you, you will respond as if he had actually done so, having made his error real to you. To interpret error is to give it power, and having done this you will overlook truth.
The analysis of ego-motivation is very complicated, very obscuring, and never without your own ego-involvement. The whole process represents a clear-cut attempt to demonstrate your own ability to understand what you perceive. This is shown by the fact that you react to your interpretations as if they were correct. You may then control your reactions behaviourally, but not emotionally. This would obviously be a split or an attack on the integrity of your mind, pitting one level within it against another.
There is but one interpretation of motivation that makes any sense. And because it is the Holy Spirit’s judgement it requires no effort at all on your part. Every loving thought is true. Everything else is an appeal for healing and help, regardless of the form it takes. Can anyone be justified in responding with anger to a brother’s plea for help? No response can be appropriate except the willingness to give it to him, for this and only this is what he is asking for. Offer him anything else, and you are assuming the right to attack his reality by interpreting it as you see fit. Perhaps the danger of this to your own mind is not yet fully apparent. If you believe that an appeal for help is something else you will react to something else. Your response will therefore be inappropriate to reality as it is, but not to your perception of it.
There is nothing to prevent you from recognising all calls for help as exactly what they are except your own imagined need to attack. It is only this that makes you willing to engage in endless ‘battles’ with reality, in which you deny the reality of the need for healing by making it unreal. You would not do this except for your unwillingness to accept reality as it is, and which you therefore withhold from yourself.
It is surely good advice to tell you not to judge what you do not understand. No one with a personal investment is a reliable witness, for truth to him has become what he wants it to be. If you are unwilling to perceive an appeal for help as what it is, it is because you are unwilling to give help and to receive it. To fail to recognise a call for help is to refuse help. Would you maintain that you do not need it? Yet this is what you are maintaining when you refuse to recognise a brother’s appeal, for only by answering his appeal can you be helped. Deny him your help and you will not recognise God’s Answer to you. The Holy Spirit does not need your help in interpreting motivation, but you do need His.
Only appreciation is an appropriate response to your brother. Gratitude is due him for both his loving thoughts and his appeals for help, for both are capable of bringing love into your awareness if you perceive them truly. And all your sense of strain comes from your attempts not to do just this. How simple, then, is God’s plan for salvation. There is but one response to reality, for reality evokes no conflict at all. There is but one Teacher of reality, Who understands what it is. He does not change His Mind about reality because reality does not change. Although your interpretations of reality are meaningless in your divided state, His remain consistently true. He gives them to you because they are for you. Do not attempt to ‘help’ a brother in your way, for you cannot help yourself. But hear his call for the Help of God, and you will recognise your own need for the Father.
Your interpretations of your brother’s needs are your interpretation of yours. By giving help you are asking for it, and if you perceive but one need in yourself you will be healed. For you will recognise God’s Answer as you want It to be, and if you want It in truth, It will be truly yours. Every appeal you answer in the Name of Christ brings the remembrance of your Father closer to your awareness. For the sake of your need, then, hear every call for help as what it is, so God can answer you.
By applying the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the reactions of others more and more consistently, you will gain an increasing awareness that His criteria are equally applicable to you. For to recognise fear is not enough to escape from it, although the recognition is necessary to demonstrate the need for escape. The Holy Spirit must still translate the fear into truth. If you were left with the fear, once you had recognised it, you would have taken a step away from reality, not towards it. Yet we have repeatedly emphasised the need to recognise fear and face it without disguise as a crucial step in the undoing of the ego. Consider how well the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the motives of others will serve you then. Having taught you to accept only loving thoughts in others and to regard everything else as an appeal for help, He has taught you that fear itself is an appeal for help. This is what recognising fear really means. If you do not protect it, He will reinterpret it. That is the ultimate value in learning to perceive attack as a call for love. We have already learned that fear and attack are inevitably associated. If only attack produces fear, and if you see attack as the call for help that it is, the unreality of fear must dawn on you. For fear is a call for love, in unconscious recognition of what has been denied.
Fear is a symptom of your own deep sense of loss. If when you perceive it in others you learn to supply the loss, the basic cause of fear is removed. Thereby you teach yourself that fear does not exist in you. The means for removing it is in yourself, and you have demonstrated this by giving it. Fear and love are the only emotions of which you are capable. One is false, for it was made out of denial; and denial depends on the belief in what is denied for its own existence. By interpreting fear correctly as a positive affirmation of the underlying belief it masks, you are undermining its perceived usefulness by rendering it useless. Defences that do not work at all are automatically discarded. If you raise what fear conceals to clear-cut unequivocal predominance, fear becomes meaningless. You have denied its power to conceal love, which was its only purpose. The veil that you have drawn across the face of love has disappeared.
If you would look upon love, which is the world’s reality, how could you do better than to recognise, in every defence against it, the underlying appeal for it? And how could you better learn of its reality than by answering the appeal for it by giving it? The Holy Spirit’s interpretation of fear does dispel it, for the awareness of truth cannot be denied. Thus does the Holy Spirit replace fear with love and translate error into truth. And thus will you learn of Him how to replace your dream of separation with the fact of unity. For the separation is only the denial of union, and correctly interpreted, attests to your eternal knowledge that union is true.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 26
Salvation comes from my one Self.
Although you are one Self, you experience yourself as two; as both good and evil, loving and hating, mind and body. This sense of being split into opposites induces feelings of acute and constant conflict, and leads to frantic attempts to reconcile the contradictory aspects of this self-perception. You have sought many such solutions, and none of them has worked. The opposites you see in you will never be compatible. But one exists.
The fact that truth and illusion cannot be reconciled, no matter how you try, what means you use and where you see the problem, must be accepted if you would be saved. Until you have accepted this, you will attempt an endless list of goals you cannot reach; a senseless series of expenditures of time and effort, hopefulness and doubt, each one as futile as the one before, and failing as the next one surely will.
Problems that have no meaning cannot be resolved within the framework they are set. Two selves in conflict could not be resolved, and good and evil have no meeting place. The self you made can never be your Self, nor can your Self be split in two, and still be what It is and must forever be. A mind and body cannot both exist. Make no attempt to reconcile the two, for one denies the other can be real. If you are physical, your mind is gone from your self-concept, for it has no place in which it could be really part of you. If you are spirit, then the body must be meaningless to your reality.
Spirit makes use of mind as means to find its Self expression. And the mind which serves the spirit is at peace and filled with joy. Its power comes from spirit, and it is fulfilling happily its function here. Yet mind can also see itself divorced from spirit, and perceive itself within a body it confuses with itself. Without its function then it has no peace, and happiness is alien to its thoughts.
Yet mind apart from spirit cannot think. It has denied its Source of strength, and sees itself as helpless, limited and weak. Dissociated from its function now, it thinks it is alone and separate, attacked by armies massed against itself and hiding in the body’s frail support. Now must it reconcile unlike with like, for this is what it thinks that it is for.
Waste no more time on this. Who can resolve the senseless conflicts which a dream presents? What could the resolution mean in truth? What purpose could it serve? What is it for? Salvation cannot make illusions real, nor solve a problem that does not exist. Perhaps you hope it can. Yet would you have God’s plan for the release of His dear Son bring pain to him, and fail to set him free?
Your Self retains Its Thoughts, and they remain within your mind and in the Mind of God. The Holy Spirit holds salvation in your mind, and offers it the way to peace. Salvation is a thought you share with God, because His Voice accepted it for you and answered in your name that it was done. Thus is salvation kept among the Thoughts your Self holds dear and cherishes for you.
We will attempt today to find this thought, whose presence in your mind is guaranteed by Him Who speaks to you from your one Self. Our hourly five-minute practicing will be a search for Him within your mind. Salvation comes from this one Self through Him Who is the Bridge between your mind and It. Wait patiently, and let Him speak to you about your Self, and what your mind can do, restored to It and free to serve Its Will.
Begin with saying this:
Salvation comes from my one Self. Its Thoughts are mine to use.
Then seek Its Thoughts, and claim them as your own. These are your own real thoughts you have denied, and let your mind go wandering in a world of dreams, to find illusions in their place. Here are your thoughts, the only ones you have. Salvation is among them; find it there.
If you succeed, the thoughts that come to you will tell you you are saved, and that your mind has found the function that it sought to lose. Your Self will welcome it and give it peace. Restored in strength, it will again flow out from spirit to the spirit in all things created by the Spirit as Itself. Your mind will bless all things. Confusion done, you are restored, for you have found your Self.
Your Self knows that you cannot fail today. Perhaps your mind remains uncertain yet a little while. Be not dismayed by this. The joy your Self experiences It will save for you, and it will yet be yours in full awareness. Every time you spend five minutes of the hour seeking Him Who joins your mind and Self, you offer Him another treasure to be kept for you.
Each time today you tell your frantic mind salvation comes from your one Self, you lay another treasure in your growing store. And all of it is given everyone who asks for it, and will accept the gift. Think, then, how much is given unto you to give this day, that it be given you!
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #655: I have discovered that my form of attacking the Sonship is overeating. I felt that I was ready through reducing what I eat to look at the guilt and hopefully reduce the fear of God’s Love and not use that particular form of attack any more. What I have found is that it is INCREDIBLY difficult to do this, even though I know exactly what purpose my overeating serves — to attack God’s Son and keep God’s Love away, or to reinforce separation.
I was hoping you could help me with this process. When I reduce what I eat, there is a very strong feeling of “hunger” that overwhelms me. I think at that point I want to turn to the Holy Spirit and “look” at the guilt in my mind so that I can see that it is not real. When I do this I am not getting any clear thoughts about how to do this. The strong thought is the hunger and need to eat a bunch of junk so the feeling will go away. What does it mean to “look at the guilt”? Do you have any suggestions for how I can get past this block that I have to the awareness of love’s presence? What are some of the “truths” I can use to help me become less afraid and get past this form of attack?
A: You’ve got part of it right, but there’s an important aspect of your current approach to food that you may want to reconsider, in light of the teachings of A Course in Miracles. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get a guilt-based, addictive behavior, such as overeating — or drinking, or gambling, etc. — under control, and that can sometimes be a very helpful first step. But if that is your primary goal, even if you acknowledge that it is a form or symbol for your attack on the Sonship, you’ve put the cart before the horse, from the Course’s perspective! That puts you in good company, since most students want to try to change their behavior rather than their minds. And this is only a “natural” desire, while we are more identified with the body in time and space than with the mind outside of time and space. But it’s playing right into the ego’s grand design of keeping our attention focused on effect (the body) and relegating cause (the mind) to a secondary role.
An alternative approach, which reflects the Course’s emphasis on thought rather than behavior, would be to shift your goal from reducing your food intake to merely watching the thoughts that accompany your cravings and your eating binges. We believe the problem is our destructive behavior, but Jesus says that the behavior is only ever a symptom of the underlying destructive thought of guilt in the mind (T.2.VI.3). The behavior helps us recognize that the guilt is there in the mind, but our purpose, believe it or not, is not to change either the behavior or the guilt, but merely to acknowledge the guilt and ask for help in seeing ourselves differently. You see, the overeating in itself is not the attack. The thought that motivates the overeating is the attack — and that thought is not real. And if our goal is to change either, we are saying both the thought and its effect — the overeating — are real. Obviously, since both feel very real to us, we cannot be the ones to undo them.
The thought of guilt may be experienced as anxiety, fear, neediness, scarcity, inadequacy, self- loathing, etc. The ego wants us to make the specific interpretation — that we are hungry and craving food and the way to address the problem is to eat. The Course invites us to dissociate the thought from the specific context and recognize that the underlying thought is really a statement we are making about ourselves, that we are empty and missing something inside — the love we unconsciously believe we have thrown away (T.30.III.1,2,3). And this thought is the source of our guilt. Whether we eat something or not is irrelevant as we allow ourselves to get in touch with the underlying thought, which may bring up both fear and pain. We don’t want to minimize this step, but we also don’t want to stop with it.
And so the Course process of looking with the Holy Spirit or Jesus means that we take what seems very real and powerful to us — our guilt, in whatever form it seems real for us — and look at it with Their gentle, nonjudgmental presence beside us. If we are successful in joining with Their love in this process of looking, we will experience some level of reduction in the intensity of our guilt-based feelings. Our continuing investment in the ego and the self we think we are, which are protected by the guilt, will determine how willing we are to release the guilt in any particular moment. So we do not want to judge ourselves if the feelings do not seem to diminish, but just continue to look as honestly as we can and ask for the help to see ourselves in a different light. For what we believe about ourselves — that we are sinful, guilty, weak, limited creatures — is an ego- based lie. And the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our minds is proof that it is a lie, for our minds could not be home to Their gentle presence if we were the limited selves we have up until now insisted we are. This process of looking at and releasing our guilt is likely to take time so it is important that we be patient with ourselves. Over time, the need to use food to push away those unpleasant, even terrifying thoughts, may also diminish, and food itself will recede in importance as a focus of concern.
A more in-depth discussion of this process and these issues can be found in “Overeating: A Dialogue” (published in both a small book and a single tape format), which presents a discussion Ken Wapnick held with three students around issues of food addiction and preoccupation with weight.