ACIM Reading for November 7
Manual for Teachers
17. HOW DO GOD’S TEACHERS DEAL WITH MAGIC THOUGHTS?
This is a crucial question both for teacher and pupil. If this issue is mishandled, the teacher of God has hurt himself and has also attacked his pupil. This strengthens fear, and makes the magic seem quite real to both of them. How to deal with magic thus becomes a major lesson for the teacher of God to master. His first responsibility in this is not to attack it. If a magic thought arouses anger in any form, God’s teacher can be sure that he is strengthening his own belief in sin and has condemned himself. He can be sure as well that he has asked for depression, pain, fear and disaster to come to him. Let him remember, then, it is not this that he would teach, because it is not this that he would learn.
There is, however, a temptation to respond to magic in a way that reinforces it. Nor is this always obvious. It can, in fact, be easily concealed beneath a wish to help. It is this double wish that makes the help of little value, and must lead to undesired outcomes. Nor should it be forgotten that the outcome that results will always come to teacher and to pupil alike. How many times has it been emphasised that you give but to yourself? And where could this be better shown than in the kinds of help the teacher of God gives to those who need his aid? Here is his gift most clearly given him. For he will give only what he has chosen for himself. And in this gift is his judgement upon the holy Son of God.
It is easiest to let error be corrected where it is most apparent, and errors can be recognised by their results. A lesson truly taught can lead to nothing but release for teacher and pupil, who have shared in one intent. Attack can enter only if perception of separate goals has entered. And this must indeed have been the case if the result is anything but joy. The single aim of the teacher turns the divided goal of the pupil into one direction, with the call for help becoming his one appeal. This then is easily responded to with just one answer, and this answer will enter the teacher’s mind unfailingly. From there it shines into his pupil’s mind, making it one with his.
Perhaps it will be helpful to remember that no one can be angry at a fact. It is always an interpretation that gives rise to negative emotions, regardless of their seeming justification by what appears as facts. Regardless, too, of the intensity of the anger that is aroused. It may be merely slight irritation, perhaps too mild to, be even clearly recognised. Or it may also take the form of intense rage, accompanied by thoughts of violence, fantasised or apparently acted out. It does not matter. All of these reactions are the same. They obscure the truth, and this can never be a matter of degree. Either truth is apparent, or it is not. It cannot be partially recognised. Who is unaware of truth must look upon illusions.
Anger in response to perceived magic thoughts is a basic cause of fear. Consider what this reaction means, and its centrality in the world’s thought system becomes apparent. A magic thought, by its mere presence, acknowledges a separation from God. It states, in the clearest form possible, that the mind which believes it has a separate will that can oppose the Will of God, also believes it can succeed. That this can hardly be a fact is obvious. Yet that it can be believed as fact is equally obvious. And herein lies the birthplace of guilt. Who usurps the place of God and takes it for himself now has a deadly “enemy”. And he must stand alone in his protection, and make himself a shield to keep him safe from fury that can never be abated, and vengeance that can never be satisfied.
How can this unfair battle be resolved? Its ending is inevitable, for its outcome must be death. How, then, can one believe in one’s defenses? Magic again must help. Forget the battle. Accept it as a fact, and then forget it. Do not remember the impossible odds against you. Do not remember the immensity of the “enemy”, and do not think about your frailty in comparison. Accept your separation, but do not remember how it came about. Believe that you have won it, but do not retain the slightest memory of Who your great “opponent” really is. Projecting your “forgetting” onto Him, it seems to you He has forgotten, too.
But what will now be your reaction to all magic thoughts? They can but re-awaken sleeping guilt, which you have hidden but have not let go. Each one says clearly to your frightened mind, “You have usurped the place of God. Think not He has forgotten”. Here we have the fear of God most starkly represented. For in that thought has guilt already raised madness to the throne of God Himself. And now there is no hope. Except to kill. Here is salvation now. An angry father pursues his guilty son. Kill or be killed, for here alone is choice. Beyond this there is none, for what was done cannot be done without. The stain of blood can never be removed, and anyone who bears this stain on him must meet with death.
Into this hopeless situation God sends His teachers. They bring the light of hope from God Himself. There is a way in which escape is possible. It can be learned and taught, but it requires patience and abundant willingness. Given that, the lesson’s manifest simplicity stands out like an intense white light against a black horizon, for such it is. If anger comes from an interpretation and not a fact, it is never justified. Once this is even dimly grasped, the way is open. Now it is possible to take the next step. The interpretation can be changed at last. Magic thoughts need not lead to condemnation, for they do not really have the power to give rise to guilt. And so they can be overlooked, and thus forgotten in the truest sense.
Madness but seems terrible. In truth it has no power to make anything. Like the magic which becomes its servant, it neither attacks nor protects. To see it and to recognise its thought system is to look on nothing. Can nothing give rise to anger? Hardly so. Remember, then, teacher of God, that anger recognises a reality that is not there; yet is the anger certain witness that you do believe in it as fact. Now is escape impossible, until you see you have responded to your own interpretation, which you have projected on an outside world. Let this grim sword be taken from you now. There is no death. This sword does not exist. The fear of God is causeless. But His Love is Cause of everything beyond all fear, and thus forever real and always true.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 7
If I am bound, my Father is not free.
If I accept that I am prisoner within a body, in a world in which all things that seem to live appear to die, then is my Father prisoner with me. And this do I believe, when I maintain the laws the world obeys must I obey; the frailties and the sins which I perceive are real, and cannot be escaped. If I am bound in any way, I do not know my Father nor my Self. And I am lost to all reality. For truth is free, and what is bound is not a part of truth.
Father, I ask for nothing but the truth. I have had many foolish thoughts about myself and my creation, and have brought a dream of fear into my mind. Today, I would not dream. I choose the way to You instead of madness and instead of fear. For truth is safe, and only love is sure.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Does A Course in Miracles have a morality, or a code of ethics?
A) The answer to this question depends on how morality is defined. The dictionary defines the term as a set of rules or principles of conduct; a system of morals or ethics that defines what is right and what is wrong. Looking at the first part of the definition, A Course in Miracles does not present a set of rules on how one should act in the world, but it most definitely presents a schemata of the post-separation split mind divided into a wrong and right mind, the respective domains of the ego and the Holy Spirit.
From a historical point of view, homo sapiens’ sojourn on this planet has been anything but moral, even though civilization after civilization has enacted moral codes that govern the affairs of the everyday life of its citizens. If the inhabitants of any society, nation-state, or civilization are operating from the belief in scarcity, the principle of lack which governs the entire thought system of the ego, the moral codes and laws will inevitably reflect this choice. And the blood-drenched events of history are witnesses to the ego’s thought system of “kill or be killed” that is the unconscious underpinning of all the moralities of the world.
Therefore, even though a system of morality might espouse noble ideals, if its origin were the wrong mind, it could never bring about a correction for what is deemed immoral or amoral. Furthermore, how is a society to determine what is right or wrong, and who should be the ones to make such decisions? If one studies the cultures of the past and present, amazement will result when one objectively looks at what is considered right or wrong by any group of people throughout the span of time. For example, during the Inquisition it was considered the highest morality to seek, find, and punish those who did not agree with the Roman Catholic Church, whose teachings were believed to have come from God and Jesus. So, in Their Names, heretics were tortured and killed. Basically then, the group that holds religious, economic, or political power in any society, depending on whether it is a theocratic or secular state, determines what is right and wrong.
A Course in Miracles presents us with a new mode of being in this dream world that is far beyond any morality or rules of conduct to which the world pays homage. This new mode of being asks us to become aware of the thoughts of our wrong minds, and then to ask for help in switching to a correction that already exists in our right minds. In order to accomplish this, we must get our ego selves out of the way and let go of any moral values, desires, or investments in any outcomes, whether they involve conduct, rules, or expectations. The following exhortation from the workbook clearly summarizes this approach of undoing all that we had believed before, so that the Wisdom of God can speak to us and guide our thoughts, words, and behavior:
Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God. Is it not He Who knows the way to you? You need not know the way to Him. Your part is simply to allow all obstacles that you have interposed between the Son and God the Father to be quietly removed forever. God will do His part in joyful and immediate response (W-pI.189.7:1-8:4).
Therefore, from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, what is “right” is accessing the right mind and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit or Jesus; while what is “wrong” is choosing the wrong mind and listening to the insane voice of the ego’s thought system of specialness. We could thus coin a new term — non-normative ethics — to denote the Course’s unique code for living in this world. What fosters this morality is the daily practice of forgiveness, which undoes the blocks to the presence of the Holy Spirit’s Love and wisdom that can flow through our minds to guide our behavior. As Jesus so movingly writes in the workbook:
For this alone I need; that you will hear the words I speak, and give them to the world. You are my voice, my eyes, my feet, my hands through which I save the world (W-pI.rV.in.9:2-3).