ACIM Text Reading for April 28
Chapter 12 ~ The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum
III. The Investment in Reality
I once asked you to sell all you have and give to the poor and follow me. This is what I meant: If you have no investment in anything in this world, you can teach the poor where their treasure is. The poor are merely those who have invested wrongly, and they are poor indeed! Because they are in need it is given you to help them, since you are among them. Consider how perfectly your lesson would be learned if you were unwilling to share their poverty. For poverty is lack, and there is but one lack since there is but one need.
Suppose a brother insists on having you do something you think you do not want to do. His very insistence should tell you that he believes salvation lies in it. If you insist on refusing and experience a quick response of opposition, you are believing that your salvation lies in not doing it. You, then, are making the same mistake he is, and are making his error real to both of you. Insistence means investment, and what you invest in is always related to your notion of salvation. The question is always twofold; first, what is to be saved? And second, how can it be saved?
Whenever you become angry with a brother, for whatever reason, you are believing that the ego is to be saved, and to be saved by attack. If he attacks, you are agreeing with this belief; and if you attack, you are reinforcing it. Remember that those who attack are poor. Their poverty asks for gifts, not for further impoverishment. You who could help them are surely acting destructively if you accept their poverty as yours. If you had not invested as they had, it would never occur to you to overlook their need.
Recognise what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something ‘outrageous’, do it because it does not matter. Refuse, and your opposition establishes that it does matter to you. It is only you, therefore, who have made the request outrageous, and every request of a brother is for you. Why would you insist in denying him? For to do so is to deny yourself and impoverish both. He is asking for salvation, as you are. Poverty is of the ego, and never of God. No ‘outrageous’ requests can be made of one who recognises what is valuable and wants to accept nothing else.
Salvation is for the mind, and it is attained through peace. This is the only thing that can be saved and the only way to save it. Any response other than love arises from a confusion about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of salvation, and this is the only answer. Never lose sight of this, and never allow yourself to believe, even for an instant, that there is another answer. For you will surely place yourself among the poor, who do not understand that they dwell in abundance and that salvation is come.
To identify with the ego is to attack yourself and make yourself poor. That is why everyone who identifies with the ego feels deprived. What he experiences then is depression or anger, because what he did was to exchange Self-love for self-hate, making him afraid of himself. He does not realise this. Even if he is fully aware of anxiety he does not perceive its source as his own ego identification, and he always tries to handle it by making some sort of insane ‘arrangement’ with the world. He always perceives this world as outside himself, for this is crucial to his adjustment. He does not realise that he makes this world, for there is no world outside of him.
If only the loving thoughts of God’s Son are the world’s reality, the real world must be in his mind. His insane thoughts, too, must be in his mind, but an internal conflict of this magnitude he cannot tolerate. A split mind is endangered, and the recognition that it encompasses completely opposed thoughts within itself is intolerable. Therefore the mind projects the split, not the reality. Everything you perceive as the outside world is merely your attempt to maintain your ego identification, for everyone believes that identification is salvation. Yet consider what has happened, for thoughts do have consequences to the thinker. You have become at odds with the world as you perceive it, because you think it is antagonistic to you. This is a necessary consequence of what you have done. You have projected outward what is antagonistic to what is inward, and therefore you would have to perceive it this way. That is why you must realise that your hatred is in your mind and not outside it before you can get rid of it; and why you must get rid of it before you can perceive the world as it really is.
I said before that God so loved the world that He gave it to His only begotten Son. God does love the real world, and those who perceive its reality cannot see the world of death. For death is not of the real world, in which everything reflects the eternal. God gave you the real world in exchange for the one you made out of your split mind, and which is the symbol of death. For if you could really separate yourself from the Mind of God you would die.
The world you perceive is a world of separation. Perhaps you are willing to accept even death to deny your Father. Yet He would not have it so, and so it is not so. You still cannot will against Him, and that is why you have no control over the world you made. It is not a world of will because it is governed by the desire to be unlike God, and this desire is not will. The world you made is therefore totally chaotic, governed by arbitrary and senseless ‘laws’, and without meaning of any kind. For it is made out of what you do not want, projected from your mind because you are afraid of it. Yet this world is only in the mind of its maker, along with his real salvation. Do not believe it is outside of yourself, for only by recognising where it is will you gain control over it. For you do have control over your mind, since the mind is the mechanism of decision.
If you will recognise that all the attack you perceive is in your own mind and nowhere else, you will at last have placed its source, and where it begins it must end. For in this same place also lies salvation. The altar of God where Christ abideth is there. You have defiled the altar, but not the world. Yet Christ has placed the Atonement on the altar for you. Bring your perceptions of the world to this altar, for it is the altar to truth. There you will see your vision changed, and there you will learn to see truly. From this place, where God and His Son dwell in peace and where you are welcome, you will look out in peace and behold the world truly. Yet to find the place, you must relinquish your investment in the world as you project it, allowing the Holy Spirit to extend the real world to you from the altar of God.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 28
I will accept my part in God’s plan for salvation.
Today is a day of special dedication. We take a stand on but one side today. We side with truth and let illusions go. We will not vacillate between the two, but take a firm position with the One. We dedicate ourselves to truth today, and to salvation as God planned it be. We will not argue it is something else. We will not seek for it where it is not. In gladness we accept it as it is, and take the part assigned to us by God.
How happy to be certain! All our doubts we lay aside today, and take our stand with certainty of purpose, and with thanks that doubt is gone and surety has come. We have a mighty purpose to fulfill, and have been given everything we need with which to reach the goal. Not one mistake stands in our way. For we have been absolved from errors. All our sins are washed away by realizing they were but mistakes.
The guiltless have no fear, for they are safe and recognize their safety. They do not appeal to magic, nor invent escapes from fancied threats without reality. They rest in quiet certainty that they will do what it is given them to do. They do not doubt their own ability because they know their function will be filled completely in the perfect time and place. They took the stand which we will take today, that we may share their certainty and thus increase it by accepting it ourselves.
They will be with us; all who took the stand we take today will gladly offer us all that they learned and every gain they made. Those still uncertain, too, will join with us, and, borrowing our certainty, will make it stronger still. While those as yet unborn will hear the call we heard, and answer it when they have come to make their choice again. We do not choose but for ourselves today.
Is it not worth five minutes of your time each hour to be able to accept the happiness that God has given you? Is it not worth five minutes hourly to recognize your special function here? Is not five minutes but a small request to make in terms of gaining a reward so great it has no measure? You have made a thousand losing bargains at the least.
Here is an offer guaranteeing you your full release from pain of every kind, and joy the world does not contain. You can exchange a little of your time for peace of mind and certainty of purpose, with the promise of complete success. And since time has no meaning, you are being asked for nothing in return for everything. Here is a bargain that you cannot lose. And what you gain is limitless indeed!
Each hour today give Him your tiny gift of but five minutes. He will give the words you use in practicing today’s idea the deep conviction and the certainty you lack. His words will join with yours, and make each repetition of today’s idea a total dedication, made in faith as perfect and as sure as His in you. His confidence in you will bring the light to all the words you say, and you will go beyond their sound to what they really mean. Today you practice with Him, as you say:
I will accept my part in God’s plan for salvation.
In each five minutes that you spend with Him, He will accept your words and give them back to you all bright with faith and confidence so strong and steady they will light the world with hope and gladness. Do not lose one chance to be the glad receiver of His gifts, that you may give them to the world today.
Give Him the words, and He will do the rest. He will enable you to understand your special function. He will open up the way to happiness, and peace and trust will be His gifts; His answer to your words. He will respond with all His faith and joy and certainty that what you say is true. And you will have conviction then of Him Who knows the function that you have on earth as well as Heaven. He will be with you each practice period you share with Him, exchanging every instant of the time you offer Him for timelessness and peace.
Throughout the hour, let your time be spent in happy preparation for the next five minutes you will spend again with Him. Repeat today’s idea while you wait for the glad time to come to you again. Repeat it often, and do not forget each time you do so, you have let your mind be readied for the happy time to come.
And when the hour goes and He is there once more to spend a little time with you, be thankful and lay down all earthly tasks, all little thoughts and limited ideas, and spend a happy time again with Him. Tell Him once more that you accept the part that He would have you take and help you fill, and He will make you sure you want this choice, which He has made with you and you with Him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #541: I’ve been having trouble with chapter 12, section III, The Investment In Reality. Jesus says that if someone asks something “outrageous” we should do it because it does not matter. This causes me great fear because all my life I’ve been unable to say no and this is something I need to do for my own mental health. I thought that we were under no laws but God’s and he never demands anything. This seems like a demand to me. It makes me feel like I am under anyone’s control if they feel like asking me to do something and get mad if I don’t. I must be interpreting this wrong because it causes fear in me unlike the rest of A Course in Miracles. How could God expect us to bow to others wishes like this. Does this not contradict all the rest?
A: Your confusion with this passage is a common one among Course students, because of our strong ego-based inclination to confuse form with content. Rest assured that Jesus is never talking about behavior but only our underlying thoughts and attitudes. Let’s look at the sentence in the larger context:
“Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something ‘outrageous,’ do it because it does not matter. Refuse, and your opposition establishes that it does matter to you. It is only you, therefore, who have made the request outrageous, and every request of a brother is for you. Why would you insist in denying him? For to do so is to deny yourself and impoverish both. He is asking for salvation, as you are. Poverty is of the ego, and never of God. No ‘outrageous’ requests can be made of one who recognizes what is valuable and wants to accept nothing else.
Salvation is for the mind, and it is attained through peace. This is the only thing that can be saved and the only way to save it. Any response other than love arises from a confusion about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of salvation, and this is the only answer” (T.12.III.4:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8; 5:1,2,3).
In this particular passage, our tendency is to focus on the part of the statement “do it” although the words Jesus is emphasizing, indicated by the italics, are concerned with our interpretation of the request and our motivation. His focus is not on “do it” but on “because it does not matter.”
Jesus is asking us to look at our resistance to our brother’s request. If we are in our right mind, we will hear the real request that is beneath the specific words and we will be willing to respond, for, in the words of this passage, “he is asking for salvation.” Our response may or may not be in the form of what he is asking for — not refusing our brother’s request does not mean that we do exactly what he asks behaviorally. But our attitude will not be one of resistance or rejection but an openness to respond with what he is really asking for — the love he does not know is his.
Jesus knew we would misinterpret this passage through our ego confusion of form and content and so he adds a clarification several chapters later:
“I have said that if a brother asks a foolish thing of you to do it. But be certain that this does not mean to do a foolish thing that would hurt either him or you, for what would hurt one will hurt the other. Foolish requests are foolish merely because they conflict, since they always contain some element of specialness. Only the Holy Spirit recognizes foolish needs as well as real ones. And He will teach you how to meet both without losing either” (T.16.I.6:4,5,6,7,8).
Once again, Jesus shifts the focus from the specific behavior to the underlying content and asks us to turn to the Holy Spirit for help, because our own interpretation will view our brother’s request as an attack rather than as a call for love. That’s why we need to ask for help for ourselves first before we can respond to our brother’s real request. So long as we see ourselves as limited and vulnerable, we will view our brother’s request as an unreasonable demand upon us and we will inevitably respond defensively, as if we can be diminished by our brother’s demands. But if we are in our right mind, we will be able to hear our brother’s request for what it really is — a fearful call for love from one who does not believe he deserves love. And we will know that the only response that is called for is love (T.12.I.3,4,5), of which we are not the source.
Through our willingness to be a channel for the love he is calling for, we are saying we are willing to experience the love ourselves. That is why, as Jesus says in the earlier passage, to refuse a brother’s request is to impoverish yourself as well. The anger and the resistance you feel are the cues that the ego is running the show. So while you feel that you may need to keep boundaries to protect yourself, Jesus is saying that it is still possible to respond to your brother’s underlying request for love. For Jesus would never ask us to do anything that we believe would hurt ourselves — we are always the ones who demand that of ourselves.
Q #465: I always understood that in A Course in Miracles Jesus never asks us to do anything in the world, except in how to do the workbook lessons. Then I rediscover in Chapter 12: “Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something ‘outrageous,’ do it because it does not matter” (T.12.III.4:1). I have also read your question and answer #60. This does not answer why he is telling us to “do something in the world.” If there is no world, why do something that my brother wants me to do?
A: The context of this statement appears in the preceding two paragraphs, and it is essential to realize that Jesus is not talking about form or behavior, but about the content in our minds. Thus he explains that the other person’s “very insistence should tell you that he believes salvation lies in it. If you insist on refusing and experience a quick response of opposition, you are believing that your salvation lies in not doing it. You, then, are making the same mistake he is, and are making his error real to both of you” (T.12.III.2:2,3,4). The content Jesus is pointing out to us is the error of believing that what we do or do not do in the world is important and in some way related to our salvation: “Insistence means investment, and what you invest in is always related to your notion of salvation” (2:5). Even though he knows the world is not real, he shows us how to use our experiences in the world as a classroom so that we can discover the specific mistakes we are making in our thinking, why they occur, and what to do about them. He is always teaching us about the content in our minds, not our behavior. His teachings will always be misunderstood if this distinction is not recognized. Therefore in the context of adamantly refusing to do what another asks of us, Jesus is saying that what will help us undo the separation and learn that salvation has nothing to do with the world is to join with the other person by doing what seems “outrageous,” remembering of course that “this does not mean to do a foolish thing that would hurt either him or you, for what would hurt one will hurt the other” (T.16.I.6:5).
Q #692: Relating to Question #465 “If someone asks you to do something outrageous, do it because it does not matter.” Yet, “Do not do a foolish thing that would hurt either.” We are constantly bombarded by telemarketers and could almost literally change phone or other services daily at their request. This too wouldn’t matter though it may continue to disappoint yesterday’s salesman and induce unnecessary busyness into today’s buyer. Ultimately, neither the salesman nor I can be hurt no matter what the decision; so I guess I’m asking for clarification of the meaning of “hurt” in this context.
A: It probably is safe to say that when Jesus was talking about this issue to Helen, the scribe of A Course in Miracles, he did not have telemarketers or other solicitors in mind. Common sense dictates that we not respond to every request made by a salesperson. On the other hand, an egoless person may be guided to buy what has been offered because the interaction is helpful to the seller’s Atonement process, not because there is any need for the item. But that advanced state is not what Jesus is referring to in these passages. He is talking about an immediate, strong reaction of opposition — a stubborn refusal to even consider the request. That extreme reaction means something is going on beneath the surface that needs to be looked at. With telemarketers, we can quickly but kindly decline the call, and that would be the end of it, just as we might decline solicitors outside a supermarket or other kind of store. There is no issue.
Q #695: This is about your answer to Question #465 regarding T.12.4. A Course in Miracles teaches us that the world is a reflection of your mind (“the outside picture of an inward condition” [T.21.in.1:51), why would someone ask a highly enlightened being to do something outrageous? Does that mean that someone like Sai Baba could never be asked an outrageous question? Second, if my mind is free from guilt then how could someone even ask for something “outrageous.” A guilt free mind wouldn’t reflect guilt even in the form of a question. I thought that when you “get it” it won’t even show up. That is why I find this to be contradictory of the teaching of love or fear, light or dark; if they are polarities then how could love and fear be present at the same time
A: First, Jesus is directing this teaching to unhealed minds, those that are still projecting guilt. A guilt-free mind, as you say, would never attack or feel attacked. Within the dream, a healed mind could be the object of an attack by someone else, as was the case with Jesus who perceived that others were attacking him, but did not himself experience it as an attack. It could be for a teaching purpose that a healed mind would choose to be in that kind of situation.
As an example of what Jesus is teaching, let us say that you insist that I go to the store to buy something you need. I immediately lash out at you and angrily refuse to go, saying, “That’s outrageous! The nerve of you to insist that I go to the store for you. Go yourself, and quit bothering me!” Jesus is talking about that kind of extreme reaction to another person’s request. If I had switched from my wrong mind to my right mind, I would not have judged your insistence that I go to the store for you as outrageous, and then attacked you in return, for I would have recognized what you were really asking for: to be saved from your self-hatred and fear of punishment by God for your “sin” of separating from Him. You were asking for love, and I would have responded with love to that request by my inner peace and non-opposition. The specific form that love would have taken would not be of concern to me; that is, I would do what you asked or not do it. There would have been no sense of being imposed on or deprived of my own needs. That is what Jesus means in saying “no ‘outrageous’ requests can be made of one who recognizes what is valuable and wants to accept nothing else” (4:8).
Jesus is helping us to become clear about “the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of salvation” (5:3). Your insistence that I go to the store means that you believe your salvation lies in getting what you want. My forceful opposition would mean that I believe salvation lies in my not giving you what you want. That is the problem Jesus is identifying in this kind of interaction. I, as an unhealed mind, have simply forgotten that my salvation as well as yours lies in the power of our minds to choose against the ego and for the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness.
Q #889: A person I socialize with is in the habit of reciting the rosary when someone travels with her and expects the other person to recite it with her. As a student of A Course in Miracles , would it be dishonest to recite “Hail Mary…pray for us sinners now….” or would it rather be a loving thing to do and in accordance with the Course teaching: “Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something ‘outrageous’, do it because it does not matter.” (T.12.III.4:1)? Would this exhortation apply to the situation I am talking about?
I am a non-practicing catholic and have been a student of the Course for the past 6 years. Some of the women I socialize with attend church on a regular basis. I have been asked what church I attend. I didn’t like being asked about that, as there is only one church in our parish. So, the first time I ignored the question. The second time, I spontaneously answered: “Good question!” I don’t feel like answering that my spiritual path is A Course in Miracles . What would be a loving, honest way to answer that question?
A: You have given yourself a very good answer to your question. It may certainly be a loving thing to say Hail Marys with your friend. There is nothing dishonest in being willing to meet your friend on her turf and on her terms. While your friend practices her beliefs, you can also practice yours by focusing on the content (the thoughts in your mind), not allowing the form (rosary) to come between you and your friend. This could make for a very relaxing ride.
Similarly, there is no need to tell anyone that you are a student of the Course. The important thing from the perspective of the Course, is to pay attention to the discomfort you experience with your friends’ inquiries, because it reflects the mind’s conflict. The goal of the Course is to help us become aware of just such discomfort, so that the beliefs and judgments that are hidden beneath it can be exposed. That is the only focus the Holy Spirit brings. If you are willing to look at whatever judgments you have regarding your friends’ catholic practice and your identity as a non- practicing catholic / student of the Course, you may be surprised to find beliefs you were not aware of. These beliefs and judgments are what make it difficult to discern what to say to your friends about church attendance. Every judgment is some form of unforgiveness and unforgiveness blocks communication. As Jesus tells us in the workbook: “ Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form” (W.pI.193.4:1, 2) . With this in mind, it is possible to find the way out of every dilemma: “…only forgiveness heals an unforgiveness, and only an unforgiveness can possibly give rise to sickness [distress, discomfort, uneasiness] of any kind” (P.2VI.5:5).
When forgiveness of one’s judgments becomes the goal in the relationship, the relationship changes, and on some level all who are involved perceive the shift. Questions and answers may change, but it is the change in content that truly matters. In some form, the message that your friends’ inquiries are not upsetting to you will be communicated to them. Releasing them of any responsibility for your feelings makes every interaction lighter. Whatever you say will be free of judgment. If you remain a kind and loving friend in this way they probably won’t care what church, if any, you are attending. If they do care, it won’t be an issue for you. You can’t lose.