ACIM Reading for December 5
Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice
2.- IV. The Process of Illness
1. As all therapy is psychotherapy, so all illness is mental illness. It is a judgment on the Son of God, and judgment is a mental activity. Judgment is a decision, made again and again, against creation and its Creator. It is a decision to perceive the universe as you would have created it. It is a decision that truth can lie and must be lies. What, then, can illness be except an expression of sorrow and of guilt? And who could weep but for his innocence?
2. Once God’s Son is seen as guilty, illness becomes inevitable. It has been asked for and will be received. And all who ask for illness have now condemned themselves to seek for remedies that cannot help, because their faith is in the illness and not in salvation. There can be nothing that a change of mind cannot effect, for all external things are only shadows of a decision already made. Change the decision, and how can its shadow be unchanged? Illness can be but guilt’s shadow, grotesque and ugly since it mimics deformity. If a deformity is seen as real, what could its shadow be except deformed?
3. The descent into hell follows step by step in an inevitable course, once the decision that guilt is real has been made. Sickness and death and misery now stalk the earth in unrelenting waves, sometimes together and sometimes in grim succession. Yet all these things, however real they seem, are but illusions. Who could have faith in them once this is realized? And who could not have faith in them until he realizes this? Healing is therapy or correction, and we have said already and will say again, all therapy is psychotherapy. To heal the sick is but to bring this realization to them.
4. The word “cure” has come into disrepute among the more “respectable” therapists of the world, and justly so. For not one of them can cure, and not one of them understands healing.
At worst, they but make the body real in their own minds, and having done so, seek for magic by which to heal the ills with which their minds endow it. How could such a process cure? It is ridiculous from start to finish. Yet having started, it must finish thus. It is as if God were the devil and must be found in evil. How could love be there? And how could sickness cure? Are not these both one question?
5. At best, and the word is perhaps questionable here, the “healers” of the world may recognize the mind as the source of illness. But their error lies in the belief that it can cure itself. This has some merit in a world where “degrees of error” is a meaningful concept. Yet must their cures remain temporary, or another illness rise instead, for death has not been overcome until the meaning of love is understood. And who can understand this without the Word of God, given by Him to the Holy Spirit as His gift to you?
6. Illness of any kind may be defined as the result of a view of the self as weak, vulnerable, evil and endangered, and thus in need of constant defense. Yet if such were really the self,
defense would be impossible. Therefore, the defenses sought for must be magical. They must overcome all limits perceived in the self, at the same time making a new self-concept into which the old one cannot return. In a word, error is accepted as real and dealt with by illusions. Truth being brought to illusions, reality now becomes a threat and is perceived as evil. Love becomes feared because reality is love. Thus is the circle closed against the “inroads” of salvation.
7. Illness is therefore a mistake and needs correction. And as we have already emphasized, correction cannot be achieved by first establishing the “rightness” of the mistake and then overlooking it. If illness is real it cannot be overlooked in truth, for to overlook reality is insanity. Yet that is magic’s purpose; to make illusions true through false perception. This cannot heal, for it opposes truth. Perhaps an illusion of health is substituted for a little while, but not for long. Fear cannot long be hidden by illusions, for it is part of them. It will escape and take another form, being the source of all illusions.
8. Sickness is insanity because all sickness is mental illness, and in it there are no degrees. One of the illusions by which sickness is perceived as real is the belief that illness varies in intensity; that the degree of threat differs according to the form it takes. Herein lies the basis of all errors, for all of them are but attempts to compromise by seeing just a little bit of hell. This is a mockery so alien to God that it must be forever inconceivable. But the insane believe it because they are insane.
9. A madman will defend his own illusions because in them he sees his own salvation.
Thus, he will attack the one who tries to save him from them, believing that he is attacking him. This curious circle of attack-defense is one of the most difficult problems with which the psychotherapist must deal. In fact, this is his central task; the core of psychotherapy. The therapist is seen as one who is attacking the patient’s most cherished possession; his picture of himself. And since this picture has become the patient’s security as he perceives it, the therapist cannot but be seen as a real source of danger, to be attacked and even killed.
10. The psychotherapist, then, has a tremendous responsibility. He must meet attack without attack, and therefore without defense. It is his task to demonstrate that defenses are not necessary, and that defenselessness is strength. This must be his teaching, if his lesson is to be that sanity is safe. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the insane believe that sanity is threat. This is the corollary of the “original sin”; the belief that guilt is real and fully justified. It is therefore the psychotherapist’s function to teach that guilt, being unreal, cannot be justified. But neither is it safe. And thus it must remain unwanted as well as unreal.
11. Salvation’s single doctrine is the goal of all therapy. Relieve the mind of the insane burden of guilt it carries so wearily, and healing is accomplished. The body is not cured. It is merely recognized as what it is. Seen rightly, its purpose can be understood. What is the need for sickness then? Given this single shift, all else will follow. There is no need for complicated change. There is no need for long analyses and wearying discussion and pursuits. The truth is simple, being one for all.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 5
Let not my world obscure the sight of Christ.
1. I can obscure my holy sight, if I intrude my world upon it. Nor can I behold the holy sights Christ looks upon, unless it is His vision that I use. Perception is a mirror, not a fact. And what I look on is my state of mind, reflected outward. I would bless the world by looking on it through the eyes of Christ. And I will look upon the certain signs that all my sins have been forgiven me.
2. You lead me from the darkness to the light; from sin to holiness. Let me forgive, and thus receive salvation for the world. It is Your gift, my Father, given me to offer to Your holy Son, that he may find again the memory of You, and of Your Son as You created him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) If God does not even know about us or the world, what is the meaning or purpose of prayer?
A) Prayer in the traditional sense has no place in the theory or practice of A Course in Miracles. For most formal religions, prayer implores a God perceived to be outside oneself to intercede, intervene, or otherwise be involved in a perceived problem affecting oneself or others. The problem is thus always seen as being outside the mind, and outside the person’s ability to solve. And God, in the sense seen in the classical Greek plays, is perceived as the deus ex machina (literally meaning “God out of the machine”) who suddenly and quite magically enters into our world to fix what has gone awry, just as was done in the performances of the ancient plays when an actual machine appeared on stage carrying the god who made all things right at the end. If God were to operate in this way (including of course Jesus or the Holy Spirit, His representatives in the dream), then He would be violating the Course’s “prime directive” (to borrow a term from Star Trek), which is not to make the error real (T-9.IV.4:1-6; “The Song of Prayer” p. 9, S-2.1.3:3-4), which trying to fix an illusory problem in an illusory world would certainly do.
That is why Jesus states early in the text that “the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything” (T-3.V.6:3). And of course asking for help of the Holy Spirit to access our right minds is a form of this prayer. Forgiveness undoes the mind’s misthought that there actually is a problem that has to be resolved. The real problem, naturally, is the belief that there is a problem in the first place. And so we need not pray for an external figure to remove an external problem. Rather, we pray for help in reminding ourselves that indeed there is only one problem (the belief in separation) and one solution (Atonement), and moreover, this problem has alreadybeen solved (W-pI.79, 80). The answer but waits for our acceptance.
For a more complete treatment of the subject of prayer, the reader is referred to the scribed pamphlet, “The Song of Prayer,” [Note: this pamphlet is now included in teh Third Edition of ACIM] specifically, the first section called “Prayer.”