A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 31, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 31

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

IV. This Need Not Be

If you cannot hear the Voice for God, it is because you do not choose to listen. That you do listen to the voice of your ego is demonstrated by your attitudes, your feelings and your behaviour. Yet this is what you want. This is what you are fighting to keep, and what you are vigilant to save. Your mind is filled with schemes to save the face of your ego, and you do not seek the face of Christ. The glass in which the ego seeks to see its face is dark indeed. How can it maintain the trick of its existence except with mirrors? But where you look to find yourself is up to you.

I have said that you cannot change your mind by changing your behaviour, but I have also said, and many times, that you canchange your mind. When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be. In every case you have thought wrongly about some brother God created, and are perceiving images your ego makes in a darkened glass. Think honestly what you have thought that God would not have thought, and what you have not thought that God would have you think. Search sincerely for what you have done and left undone accordingly, and then change your mind to think with God’s. This may seem hard to do, but it is much easier than trying to think against it. Your mind is one with God’s. Denying this and thinking otherwise has held your ego together, but has literally split your mind. As a loving brother I am deeply concerned with your mind, and urge you to follow my example as you look at yourself and at your brother, and see in both the glorious creations of a glorious Father.

When you are sad, know this need not be. Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise.

When you are anxious, realise that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego, and know this need not be. You can be as vigilant against the ego’s dictates as for them.

When you feel guilty, remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not. Leave the ‘sins’ of the ego to me. That is what Atonement is for. But until you change your mind about those whom your ego has hurt, the Atonement cannot release you. While you feel guilty your ego is in command, because only the ego can experience guilt. This need not be.

Watch your mind for the temptations of the ego, and do not be deceived by it. It offers you nothing. When you have given up this voluntary dis-spiriting, you will see how your mind can focus and rise above fatigue and heal. Yet you are not sufficiently vigilant against the demands of the ego to disengage yourself. This need not be.

The habit of engaging with God and His creations is easily made if you actively refuse to let your mind slip away. The problem is not one of concentration; it is the belief that no one, including yourself, is worth consistent effort. Side with me consistently against this deception, and do not permit this shabby belief to pull you back. The disheartened are useless to themselves and to me, but only the ego can be disheartened.

Have you really considered how many opportunities you have had to gladden yourself, and how many of them you have refused? There is no limit to the power of a Son of God, but he can limit the expression of his power as much as he chooses. Your mind and mine can unite in shining your ego away, releasing the strength of God into everything you think and do. Do not settle for anything less than this, and refuse to accept anything but this as your goal. Watch your mind carefully for any beliefs that hinder its accomplishment, and step away from them. Judge how well you have done this by your own feelings, for this is the one right use of judgement. Judgement, like any other defence, can be used to attack or protect; to hurt or to heal. The ego should be brought to judgement and found wanting there. Without your own allegiance, protection and love, the ego cannot exist. Let it be judged truly and you must withdraw allegiance, protection and love from it.

You are a mirror of truth, in which God Himself shines in perfect light. To the ego’s dark glass you need but say, ‘I will not look there because I know these images are not true’. Then let the Holy One shine on you in peace, knowing that this and only this must be. His Mind shone on you in your creation and brought your mind into being. His Mind still shines on you and must shine through you. Your ego cannot prevent Him from shining on you, but it can prevent you from letting Him shine through you.

The First Coming of Christ is merely another name for the creation, for Christ is the Son of God. The Second Coming of Christ means nothing more than the end of the ego’s rule and the healing of the mind. I was created like you in the First, and I have called you to join me in the Second. I am in charge of the Second Coming, and my judgement, which is used only for protection, cannot be wrong because it never attacks. Yours may be so distorted that you believe I was mistaken in choosing you. I assure you this is a mistake of your ego. Do not mistake it for humility. Your ego is trying to convince you that it is real and I am not, because if I am real, I am no more real than you are. That knowledge, and I assure you that it is knowledge, means that Christ has come into your mind and healed it.

I do not attack your ego. I do work with your higher mind, the home of the Holy Spirit, whether you are asleep or awake, just as your ego does with your lower mind, which is its home. I am your vigilance in this, because you are too confused to recognise your own hope. I am not mistaken. Your mind will elect to join with mine, and together we are invincible. You and your brother will yet come together in my name, and your sanity will be restored. I raised the dead by knowing that life is an eternal attribute of everything that the living God created. Why do you believe it is harder for me to inspire the dis-spirited or to stabilise the unstable? I do not believe that there is an order of difficulty in miracles; you do. I have called and you will answer. I understand that miracles are natural, because they are expressions of love. My calling you is as natural as your answer, and as inevitable.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 31

Lesson 31

I am not a victim of the world I see.

1. Today’s idea is the introduction to your declaration of release. Again, the idea should be applied to both the world you see without and the world you see within. In applying the idea, we will use a form of practice which will be used more and more, with changes as indicated. Generally speaking, the form in­cludes two aspects, one in which you apply the idea on a more sustained basis, and the other consisting of frequent applications of the idea throughout the day.

2. Two longer periods of practice with the idea for today are needed, one in the morning and one at night. Three to five min­utes for each of these are recommended. During that time, look about you slowly while repeating the idea two or three times. Then close your eyes, and apply the same idea to your inner world. You will escape from both together, for the inner is the cause of the outer.

3. As you survey your inner world, merely let whatever thoughts cross your mind come into your awareness, each to be consi­dered for a moment, and then replaced by the next. Try not to establish any kind of hierarchy among them. Watch them come and go as dispassionately as possible. Do not dwell on any one in particular, but try to let the stream move on evenly and calmly, without any special investment on your part. As you sit and quietly watch your thoughts, repeat today’s idea to yourself as often as you care to, but with no sense of hurry.

4. In addition, repeat the idea for today as often as possible dur­ing the day. Remind yourself that you are making a declaration of independence in the name of your own freedom. And in your freedom lies the freedom of the world.

5. The idea for today is also a particularly useful one to use as a response to any form of temptation that may arise. It is a declaration that you will not yield to it, and put yourself in bondage.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) I’m having difficulty reading the Course. Why does the wording seem so confusing?

A) You may find it comforting to know that you are not the only one who has experienced frustration with the Course‘s language. There are several reasons why students may find the Course difficult. First, it is a direct challenge to the ego and its thought system. The ego retaliates by attempting to distort, change, or outright reject the meaning of the Course at all levels including its language. Second, much of A Course in Miracles is written in blank verse, a meter known as iambic pentameter, often found in the work of William Shakespeare. As a result, the form of the language is more poetic, but at times might seem more difficult to understand.

Third, the Course uses Christian language which can be challenging for some people. Its scribe, Dr. Helen Schucman, explained that she was specifically instructed to use Christian language because the Course is a restatement of Christianity and its principles. Therefore, the Course gives new meaning to traditional Christian words such as forgiveness, Atonement, sin, Christ, salvation, creation, and, of course, miracles.

Perhaps most importantly, the Course was not designed to be breezed through and comprehended in one reading. Built into its very structure is the necessity to linger, to question, to dive beneath the surface, to wrestle with language and meaning, and then return and read it yet again. The Course is not learned by the intellect alone. Indeed, it speaks to the deepest place of knowing in us, to the part of the mind that has always felt that there must be “something more,” the part that longs for peace, for true connection, for Home. Its Author understands our longing and our resistance, and patiently, steadily, leads us along a seemingly meandering path which continually doubles back on itself, so that what was previously seen as a trail strewn with obstacles is in time recognized as the sure, smooth path to peace.

The worldview taught by the Course is quite radical. It challenges all of our usual assumptions about who we are and why we’re here. It takes time, willingness and practice for these teachings to begin to take root in our minds and hearts. Therefore, despite the difficulty you may be having, we strongly encourage you to persevere.

infinite patience

 

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 30, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 30

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

III. Love Without Conflict

It is hard to understand what ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within you’ really means. This is because it is not understandable to the ego, which interprets it as if something outside is inside, and this does not mean anything. The word ‘within’ is unnecessary. The Kingdom of Heaven is you. What else butyou did the Creator create, and what else but you is His Kingdom? This is the whole message of the Atonement; a message which in its totality transcends the sum of its parts. You, too, have a Kingdom that your spirit created. It has not ceased to create because of the ego’s illusions. Your creations are no more fatherless than you are. Your ego and your spirit will never be co-creators, but your spirit and your Creator will always be. Be confident that your creations are as safe as you are.

The Kingdom is perfectly united and perfectly protected, and the ego will not prevail against it. Amen.

This is written in the form of a prayer because it is useful in moments of temptation. It is a declaration of independence. You will find it very helpful if you understand it fully. The reason you need my help is because you have denied your own Guide and therefore need guidance. My role is to separate the true from the false, so truth can break through the barriers the ego has set up and can shine into your mind. Against our united strength the ego cannot prevail.

It is surely apparent by now why the ego regards spirit as its ‘enemy’. The ego arose from the separation, and its continued existence depends on your continuing belief in the separation. The ego must offer you some sort of reward for maintaining this belief. All it can offer is a sense of temporary existence, which begins with its own beginning and ends with its own ending. It tells you this life is your existence because it is its own. Against this sense of temporary existence spirit offers you the knowledge of permanence and unshakeable being. No one who has experienced the revelation of this can ever fully believe in the ego again. How can its meagre offering to you prevail against the glorious gift of God?

You who identify with your ego cannot believe God loves you. You do not love what you made, and what you made does not love you. Being made out of the denial of the Father, the ego has no allegiance to its maker. You cannot conceive of the real relationship that exists between God and His creations because of your hatred for the self you made. You project onto the ego the decision to separate, and this conflicts with the love you feel for the ego because you made it. No love in this world is without this ambivalence, and since no ego has experienced love without ambivalence the concept is beyond its understanding. Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly. This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s ‘drive to get’.

There is a kind of experience so different from anything the ego can offer that you will never want to cover or hide it again. It is necessary to repeat that your belief in darkness and hiding is why the light cannot enter. The Bible gives many references to the immeasurable gifts which are for you, but for which you must ask. This is not a condition as the ego sets conditions. It is the glorious condition of what you are.

No force except your own will is strong enough or worthy enough to guide you. In this you are as free as God, and must remain so forever. Let us ask the Father in my name to keep you mindful of His Love for you and yours for Him. He has never failed to answer this request, because it asks only for what He has already willed. Those who call truly are always answered. Thou shalt have no other gods before Him because there are none.

It has never really entered your mind to give up every idea you ever had that opposes knowledge. You retain thousands of little scraps of fear that prevent the Holy One from entering. Light cannot penetrate through the walls you make to block it, and it is forever unwilling to destroy what you have made. No one can see through a wall, but I can step around it. Watch your mind for the scraps of fear, or you will be unable to ask me to do so. I can help you only as our Father created us. I will love you and honour you and maintain complete respect for what you have made, but I will not uphold it unless it is true. I will never forsake you any more than God will, but I must wait as long as you choose to forsake yourself. Because I wait in love and not in impatience, you will surely ask me truly. I will come in response to a single unequivocal call.

Watch carefully and see what it is you are really asking for. Be very honest with yourself in this, for we must hide nothing from each other. If you will really try to do this, you have taken the first step toward preparing your mind for the Holy One to enter. We will prepare for this together, for once He has come, you will be ready to help me to make other minds ready for Him. How long will you deny Him His Kingdom?

In your own mind, though denied by the ego, is the declaration of your release. God has given you everything. This one fact means the ego does not exist, and this makes it profoundly afraid. In the ego’s language, ‘to have’ and ‘to be’ are different, but they are identical to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows that you both have everything and are everything. Any distinction in this respect is meaningful only when the idea of ‘getting’, which implies a lack, has already been accepted. That is why we make no distinction between having the Kingdom of God and being the Kingdom of God.

The calm being of God’s Kingdom, which in your sane mind is perfectly conscious, is ruthlessly banished from the part of the mind the ego rules. The ego is desperate because it opposes literally invincible odds, whether you are asleep or awake. Consider how much vigilance you have been willing to exert to protect your ego, and how little to protect your right mind. Who but the insane would undertake to believe what is not true, and then protect this belief at the cost of truth?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 30

Lesson 30

God is in everything I see because God is in my mind.

1. The idea for today is the springboard for vision. From this idea will the world open up before you, and you will look upon it and see in it what you have never seen before. Nor will what you saw before be even faintly visible to you.

2. Today we are trying to use a new kind of “projection.” We are not attempting to get rid of what we do not like by seeing it outside. Instead, we are trying to see in the world what is in our minds, and what we want to recognize is there. Thus, we are trying to join with what we see, rather than keeping it apart from us. That is the fundamental difference between vision and the way you see.

3. Today’s idea should be applied as often as possible throughout the day. Whenever you have a moment or so, repeat it to yourself slowly, looking about you, and trying to realize that the idea applies to everything you do see now, or could see now if it were within the range of your sight.

4. Real vision is not limited to concepts such as “near” and “far.” To help you begin to get used to this idea, try to think of things beyond your present range as well as those you can actually see, as you apply today’s idea.

5. Real vision is not only unlimited by space and distance, but it does not depend on the body’s eyes at all. The mind is its only source. To aid in helping you to become more accustomed to this idea as well, devote several practice periods to applying today’s idea with your eyes closed, using whatever subjects come to mind, and looking within rather than without. Today’s idea ap­plies equally to both.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Since all sickness is a projection of the mind’s guilt, does this mean that it is wrong to take medicine for physical pain? 

A) Absolutely not. As we have just explained, the Course’s “morality”– whether any particular behavior is “right” or ” wrong”– depends only on which voice we choose to listen to. And there certainly could be instances when the guidance of Jesus would be to take medication or pain-killers. Above all, as is seen throughout A Course in Miracles, his teaching and guidance is gentle and loving, which is exemplified in an extremely important passage near the beginning of the text. It specifically addresses this issue of taking medicine, a form of what the Course refers to as magic. The passage is particularly important because of the tendency for students of A Course in Miracles to judgmentally use its teachings against themselves or others. It is also an excellent example of the integration of what we have frequently referred to as the two levels of the Course: Level I — the metaphysical foundation of the Course’s teachings that contrasts the reality of God and Christ with the ego’s illusory world; and Level II — the part of the Course’s teachings that focuses onlyon the world of illusion, the dream. On this level, the truth is the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world as a classroom in which we learn forgiveness, contrasted with the illusion that is the ego’s vicious use of the world to advance its own specialness. The passage begins with a metaphysical statement about the illusory nature of the body, and then Jesus gently shifts the focus to the experience of his students when they are gripped with fear: 

All material means that you accept as remedies for bodily ills are restatements of magic principles. This is the first step in believing that the body makes its own illness. It is a second misstep to attempt to heal it through non-creative agents. It does not follow, however, that the use of such agents for corrective purposes is evil. Sometimes the illness has a sufficiently strong hold over the mind to render a person temporarily inaccessible to the Atonement. In this case it may be wise to utilize a compromise approach to mind and body, in which something from the outside is temporarily given healing belief. This is because the last thing that can help the non-right-minded, or the sick, is an increase in fear.  They are already in a fear-weakened state. If they are prematurely exposed to a miracle, they may be precipitated into panic. This is likely to occur when upside-down perception has induced the belief that miracles are frightening (T-2.IV.4; italics ours).

From a reading of other passages in the Course, it is apparent that since the origin and content of all dreams is fear, everyone in this world is in a fear state. Moreover, there is an inherent fear of the power of the miracle to release us from all defenses that “protect” us from the “threat” of God’s Love. Sickness and pain constitute essential aspects of the ego’s plan of protection, since they rivet our attention on our bodies and away from our Identity as spirit, the memory of which is held for us by the Holy Spirit in our right minds (see workbook Lesson 136, “Sickness is a defense against the truth”). Therefore we usually need the “compromise approach” Jesus mentions above. And so very often, a decision to ask the Holy Spirit for help instead of the ego — because of our fear — needs to be expressed in material form, as Jesus explains in this passage from the manual: 

The acceptance of sickness as a decision of the mind, for a purpose for which it would use the body, is the basis of  healing. And this is so for healing in all forms. A patient decides that this is so, and he recovers. If he decides against recovery, he will not be healed. Who is the physician? Only the mind of the patient himself. The outcome is what he decides that it is. Special agents seem to be ministering to him, yet they but give form to his own choice. He chooses then in order to bring tangible form to his desires. And it is this they do, and nothing else. They are not actually needed at all. The patient could merely rise up without their aid and say, “I have no use for this.”  There is no form of sickness that would not be cured at once (M-5.II.2; italics ours).

Therefore, taking medicine can actually be an expression of students’ asking Jesus for help, and accepting that help in the form that does not reinforce their fear of the power of their minds to heal. The fear is exacerbated because the ego’s thought of attacking God and usurping His role as First Cause is also found in the mind. And so returning to the mind its power to decide for God, also calls forth the memory of its misuse of that power to choose against Him. The guilt acts almost as an electric grid that emits a shock whenever it is approached, recoiling us from our goal. And so often our asking Jesus for help in our minds needs to be “compromised” by mediating that help through the body. This dynamic is reflected in the following paragraph, part of which we quoted earlier: 

The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed.  In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver. This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that this is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear (T-2.IV.5).

Even though taking medicine is, on one level, expressing the “misstep to attempt to heal … through non-creative agents,” on another level — as we have already discussed — it reflects turning to Jesus for help and accepting it on the only level that does not reinforce fear. To exclude such behavior in the name of the teachings of A Course in Miracles is subtly to make the body real by stating that certain behaviors are “evil” or “wrong.” In the words of Hamlet: “There is nothing right or wrong, but thinking makes it so.” And our thinking can express either the “wrong” thought system of the ego, or the “right” one of the Holy Spirit. Our actions simply mirror the decision our minds have made. However, as we shall discuss in the next question, it is a mistake to attempt to understand which teacher has been chosen based upon observable actions. 

secret of salvation

 

 

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 29, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 29

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

II. The Ego and False Autonomy

It is reasonable to ask how the mind could ever have made the ego. In fact, it is the best question you could ask. There is, however, no point in giving an answer in terms of the past because the past does not matter, and history would not exist if the same errors were not being repeated in the present. Abstract thought applies to knowledge because knowledge is completely impersonal, and examples are irrelevant to its understanding. Perception, however, is always specific, and therefore quite concrete.

Everyone makes an ego or a self for himself, which is subject to enormous variation because of its instability. He also makes an ego for everyone else he perceives, which is equally variable. Their interaction is a process that alters both, because they were not made by or with the Unalterable. It is important to realise that this alteration can and does occur as readily when the interaction takes place in the mind as when it involves physical interaction. Thinking about another ego is as effective in changing relative perception as is physical interaction. There could be no better example that the ego is only an idea and not a fact.

Your own state of mind is a good example of how the ego was made. When you threw knowledge away it is as if you never had it. This is so apparent that one need only recognise it to see that it does happen. If this occurs in the present, why is it surprising that it occurred in the past? Surprise is a reasonable response to the unfamiliar, though hardly to something that occurs with such persistence. But do not forget that the mind need not work that way, even though it does work that way now.

Think of the love of animals for their offspring, and the need they feel to protect them. That is because they regard them as part of themselves. No one dismisses something he considers part of himself. You react to your ego much as God does to His creations,—with love, protection and charity. Your reactions to the self you made are not surprising. In fact, they resemble in many ways how you will one day react to your real creations, which are as timeless as you are. The question is not how you respond to the ego, but what you believe you are. Belief is an ego function, and as long as your origin is open to belief you are regarding it from an ego viewpoint. When teaching is no longer necessary you will merely know God. Belief that there is another way of perceiving is the loftiest idea of which ego thinking is capable. That is because it contains a hint of recognition that the ego is not the Self.

Undermining the ego’s thought system must be perceived as painful, even though this is anything but true. Babies scream in rage if you take away a knife or scissors, although they may well harm themselves if you do not. In this sense you are still a baby. You have no sense of real self-preservation, and are likely to decide that you need precisely what would hurt you most. Yet whether or not you recognise it now, you have agreed to co-operate in the effort to become both harmless and helpful, attributes that go together. Your attitudes even toward this are necessarily conflicted, because all attitudes are ego-based. This will not last. Be patient a while and remember that the outcome is as certain as God.

Only those who have a real and lasting sense of abundance can be truly charitable. This is obvious when you consider what is involved. To the ego, to give anything implies that you will have to do without it. When you associate giving with sacrifice, you give only because you believe that you are somehow getting something better, and can therefore do without the thing you give. ‘Giving to get’ is an inescapable law of the ego, which always evaluates itself in relation to other egos. It is therefore continually preoccupied with the belief in scarcity that gave rise to it. Its whole perception of other egos as real is only an attempt to convince itself that it is real. ‘Self-esteem’ in ego terms means nothing more than that the ego has deluded itself into accepting its reality, and is therefore temporarily less predatory. This ‘self-esteem’ is always vulnerable to stress, a term which refers to any perceived threat to the ego’s existence.

The ego literally lives by comparisons. Equality is beyond its grasp, and charity becomes impossible. The ego never gives out of abundance, because it was made as a substitute for it. That is why the concept of ‘getting’ arose in the ego’s thought system. Appetites are ‘getting’ mechanisms, representing the ego’s need to confirm itself. This is as true of body appetites as it is of the so-called ‘higher ego needs’. Body appetites are not physical in origin. The ego regards the body as its home, and tries to satisfy itself through the body. But the idea that this is possible is a decision of the mind, which has become completely confused about what is really possible.

The ego believes it is completely on its own, which is merely another way of describing how it thinks it originated. This is such a fearful state that it can only turn to other egos and try to unite with them in a feeble attempt at identification, or attack them in an equally feeble show of strength. It is not free, however, to open the premise to question, because the premise is its foundation. The ego is the mind’s belief that it is completely on its own. The ego’s ceaseless attempts to gain the spirit’s acknowledgement and thus establish its own existence are useless. Spirit in its knowledge is unaware of the ego. It does not attack it; it merely cannot conceive of it at all. While the ego is equally unaware of spirit, it does perceive itself as being rejected by something greater than itself. This is why self-esteem in ego terms must be delusional. The creations of God do not create myths, although creative effort can be turned to mythology. It can do so, however, only under one condition; what it makes is then no longer creative. Myths are entirely perceptual, and so ambiguous in form and characteristically good-and-evil in nature that the most benevolent of them is not without fearful connotations.

Myths and magic are closely associated, since myths are usually related to ego origins, and magic to the powers the ego ascribes to itself. Mythological systems generally include some account of ‘the creation’, and associate this with its particular form of magic. The so-called ‘battle for survival’ is only the ego’s struggle to preserve itself, and its interpretation of its own beginning. This beginning is usually associated with physical birth, because it is hard to maintain that the ego existed before that point in time. The more ‘religiously’ ego-oriented may believe that the soul existed before, and will continue to exist after a temporary lapse into ego life. Some even believe that the soul will be punished for this lapse. However, salvation does not apply to spirit, which is not in danger and does not need to be salvaged.

Salvation is nothing more than ‘right-mindedness’, which is not the One-mindedness of the Holy Spirit, but which must be achieved before One-mindedness is restored. Right-mindedness leads to the next step automatically, because right perception is uniformly without attack, and therefore wrong-mindedness is obliterated. The ego cannot survive without judgement, and is laid aside accordingly. The mind then has only one direction in which it can move. Its direction is always automatic, because it cannot but be dictated by the thought system to which it adheres.

It cannot be emphasised too often that correcting perception is merely a temporary expedient. It is necessary only because misperception is a block to knowledge, while accurate perception is a stepping-stone towards it. The whole value of right perception lies in the inevitable realisation that all perception is unnecessary. This removes the block entirely. You may ask how this is possible as long as you appear to be living in this world. That is a reasonable question. You must be careful, however, that you really understand it. Who is the ‘you’ who are living in this world? Spirit is immortal, and immortality is a constant state. It is as true now as it ever was or ever will be, because it implies no change at all. It is not a continuum, nor is it understood by being compared to an opposite. Knowledge never involves comparisons. That is its main difference from everything else the mind can grasp.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 29

Lesson 29

God is in everything I see.

1. The idea for today explains why you can see all purpose in everything. It explains why nothing is separate, by itself or in itself. And it explains why nothing you see means anything. In fact, it explains every idea we have used thus far, and all sub­sequent ones as well. Today’s idea is the whole basis for vision.

2. You will probably find this idea very difficult to grasp at this point. You may find it silly, irreverent, senseless, funny and even objectionable. Certainly God is not in a table, for example, as you see it. Yet we emphasized yesterday that a table shares the purpose of the universe. And what shares the purpose of the universe shares the purpose of its Creator.

3. Try then, today, to begin to learn how to look on all things with love, appreciation and open-mindedness. You do not see them now. Would you know what is in them? Nothing is as it appears to you. Its holy purpose stands beyond your little range. When vision has shown you the holiness that lights up the world, you will understand today’s idea perfectly. And you will not under­stand how you could ever have found it difficult.

4. Our six two-minute practice periods for today should follow a now familiar pattern: Begin with repeating the idea to yourself, and then apply it to randomly chosen subjects about you, nam­ing each one specifically. Try to avoid the tendency toward self-directed selection, which may be particularly tempting in connection with today’s idea because of its wholly alien nature. Remember that any order you impose is equally alien to reality.

5. Your list of subjects should therefore be as free of self-selection as possible. For example, a suitable list might include:

God is in this coat hanger.
God is in this magazine.
God is in this finger.
God is in this lamp.
God is in that body.
God is in that door.
God is in that waste basket.

In addition to the assigned practice periods, repeat the idea for today at least once an hour, looking slowly about you as you say the words unhurriedly to yourself. At least once or twice, you should experience a sense of restfulness as you do this.

***

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).

infinite patience

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 28, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 28

Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego

I. Right Teaching and Right Learning

A good teacher clarifies his own ideas and strengthens them by teaching them. Teacher and pupil are alike in the learning process. They are in the same order of learning, and unless they share their lessons conviction will be lacking. A good teacher must believe in the ideas he teaches, but he must meet another condition; he must believe in the student to whom he offers the ideas.

Many stand guard over their ideas because they want to protect their thought systems as they are, and learning means change. Change is always fearful to the separated, because they cannot conceive of it as a move towards healing the separation. They always perceive it as a move toward further separation, because the separation was their first experience of change. You believe that if you allow no change to enter into your ego you will find peace. This profound confusion is possible only if you maintain that the same thought system can stand on two foundations. Nothing can reach spirit from the ego, and nothing can reach the ego from spirit. Spirit can neither strengthen the ego nor reduce the conflict within it. The ego is a contradiction. Your self and God’s Self are in opposition. They are opposed in source, in direction and in outcome. They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive and the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication. Nevertheless, the ego can learn, even though its maker can be misguided. He cannot, however, make the totally lifeless out of the life-given.

Spirit need not be taught, but the ego must be. Learning is ultimately perceived as frightening because it leads to the relinquishment, not the destruction, of the ego to the light of spirit. This is the change the ego must fear, because it does not share my charity. My lesson was like yours, and because I learned it I can teach it. I will never attack your ego, but I am trying to teach you how its thought system arose. When I remind you of your true creation, your ego cannot but respond with fear.

Teaching and learning are your greatest strengths now, because they enable you to change your mind and help others to change theirs. Refusing to change your mind will not prove that the separation has not occurred. The dreamer who doubts the reality of his dream while he is still dreaming is not really healing his split mind. You dream of a separated ego and believe in a world that rests upon it. This is very real to you. You cannot undo it by not changing your mind about it. If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.

Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will one day no longer need him. This is the one true goal of the teacher. It is impossible to convince the ego of this, because it goes against all of its own laws. But remember that laws are set up to protect the continuity of the system in which the lawmaker believes. It is natural for the ego to try to protect itself once you have made it, but it is not natural for you to want to obey its laws unless you believe them. The ego cannot make this choice because of the nature of its origin. You can, because of the nature of yours.

Egos can clash in any situation, but spirit cannot clash at all. If you perceive a teacher as merely ‘a larger ego’ you will be afraid, because to enlarge an ego would be to increase anxiety about separation. I will teach with you and live with you if you will think with me, but my goal will always be to absolve you finally from the need for a teacher. This is the opposite of the ego-oriented teacher’s goal. He is concerned with the effect of his ego on other egos, and therefore interprets their interaction as a means of ego preservation. I would not be able to devote myself to teaching if I believed this, and you will not be a devoted teacher as long as you believe it. I am constantly being perceived as a teacher either to be exalted or rejected, but I do not accept either perception for myself.

Your worth is not established by teaching or learning. Your worth is established by God. As long as you dispute this everything you do will be fearful, particularly any situation that lends itself to the belief in superiority and inferiority. Teachers must be patient and repeat their lessons until they are learned. I am willing to do this, because I have no right to set your learning limits for you. Again, – nothing you do or think or wish or make is necessary to establish your worth. This point is not debatable except in delusions. Your ego is never at stake because God did not create it. Your spirit is never at stake because He did. Any confusion on this point is delusional, and no form of devotion is possible as long as this delusion lasts.

The ego tries to exploit all situations into forms of praise for itself in order to overcome its doubts. It will remain doubtful as long as you believe in its existence. You who made it cannot trust it, because in your right mind you realise it is not real. The only sane solution is not to try to change reality, which is indeed a fearful attempt, but to accept it as it is. You are part of reality, which stands unchanged beyond the reach of your ego but within easy reach of spirit. When you are afraid, be still and know that God is real, and you are His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. Do not let your ego dispute this, because the ego cannot know what is as far beyond its reach as you are.

God is not the author of fear. You are. You have chosen to create unlike Him, and have therefore made fear for yourself. You are not at peace because you are not fulfilling your function. God gave you a very lofty function that you are not meeting. Your ego has chosen to be afraid instead of meeting it. When you awaken you will not be able to understand this, because it is literally incredible. Do not believe the incredible now. Any attempt to increase its believable-ness is merely to postpone the inevitable. The word ‘inevitable’ is fearful to the ego, but joyous to the spirit. God is inevitable, and you cannot avoid Him any more than He can avoid you.

The ego is afraid of the spirit’s joy, because once you have experienced it you will withdraw all protection from the ego, and become totally without investment in fear. Your investment is great now because fear is a witness to the separation, and your ego rejoices when you witness to it. Leave it behind! Do not listen to it and do not preserve it. Listen only to God, Who is as incapable of deception as is the spirit He created. Release yourself and release others. Do not present a false and unworthy picture of yourself to others, and do not accept such a picture of them yourself.

The ego has built a shabby and un-sheltering home for you, because it cannot build otherwise. Do not try to make this impoverished house stand. Its weakness is your strength. Only God could make a home that is worthy of His creations, who have chosen to leave it empty by their own dispossession. Yet His home will stand forever, and is ready for you when you choose to enter it. Of this you can be wholly certain. God is as incapable of creating the perishable as the ego is of making the eternal.

Of your ego you can do nothing to save yourself or others, but of your spirit you can do everything for the salvation of both. Humility is a lesson for the ego, not for the spirit. Spirit is beyond humility, because it recognises its radiance and gladly sheds its light everywhere. The meek shall inherit the earth because their egos are humble, and this gives them truer perception. The Kingdom of Heaven is the spirit’s right, whose beauty and dignity are far beyond doubt, beyond perception, and stand forever as the mark of the Love of God for His creations, who are wholly worthy of Him and only of Him. Nothing else is sufficiently worthy to be a gift for a creation of God Himself.

I will substitute for your ego if you wish, but never for your spirit. A father can safely leave a child with an elder brother who has shown himself responsible, but this involves no confusion about the child’s origin. The brother can protect the child’s body and his ego, but he does not confuse himself with the father because he does this. I can be entrusted with your body and your ego only because this enables you not to be concerned with them, and lets me teach you their unimportance. I could not understand their importance to you if I had not once been tempted to believe in them myself. Let us undertake to learn this lesson together so we can be free of them together. I need devoted teachers who share my aim of healing the mind. Spirit is far beyond the need of your protection or mine. Remember this:

In this world you need not have tribulation because I have overcome the world. That is why you should be of good cheer.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 28

Lesson 28

Above all else I want to see things differently.

1. Today we are really giving specific application to the idea for yesterday. In these practice periods, you will be making a series of definite commitments. The question of whether you will keep them in the future is not our concern here. If you are willing at least to make them now, you have started on the way to keeping them. And we are still at the beginning.

2. You may wonder why it is important to say, for example, “Above all else I want to see this table differently.” In itself it is not important at all. Yet what is by itself? And what does “in itself” mean? You see a lot of separate things about you, which really means you are not seeing at all. You either see or not. When you have seen one thing differently, you will see all things differently. The light you will see in any one of them is the same light you will see in them all.

3. When you say, “Above all else I want to see this table differ­ently,” you are making a commitment to withdraw your precon­ceived ideas about the table, and open your mind to what it is, and what it is for. You are not defining it in past terms. You are asking what it is, rather than telling it what it is. You are not binding its meaning to your tiny experience of tables, nor are you limiting its purpose to your little personal thoughts.

4. You will not question what you have already defined. And the purpose of these exercises is to ask questions and receive the an­swers. In saying, “Above all else I want to see this table differ­ently,” you are committing yourself to seeing. It is not an exclusive commitment. It is a commitment that applies to the table just as much as to anything else, neither more nor less.

5. You could, in fact, gain vision from just that table, if you would withdraw all your own ideas from it, and look upon it with a completely open mind. It has something to show you; something beautiful and clean and of infinite value, full of happiness and hope. Hidden under all your ideas about it is its real purpose, the purpose it shares with all the universe.

6. In using the table as a subject for applying the idea for today, you are therefore really asking to see the purpose of the universe. You will be making this same request of each subject that you use in the practice periods. And you are making a commitment to each of them to let its purpose be revealed to you, instead of placing your own judgment upon it.

7. We will have six two-minute practice periods today, in which the idea for the day is stated first, and then applied to whatever you see about you. Not only should the subjects be chosen randomly, but each one should be accorded equal sincerity as to­day’s idea is applied to it, in an attempt to acknowledge the equal value of them all in their contribution to your seeing.

8. As usual, the applications should include the name of the subject your eyes happen to light on, and you should rest your eyes on it while saying:

Above all else I want to see this _________ differently.

Each application should be made quite slowly, and as thoughtfully as possible. There is no hurry.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Are babies born innocent? 

A) The only true state of innocence is in Heaven, the real home of God’s Son. With very, very few exceptions — the Teachers of teachers referred to in the manual for teachers (M-26.2) — only those who retain guilt in their minds “come here” and are born. Workbook Lesson 182 provides a poignant portrait of all inhabitants of this world: 

We speak today for everyone who walks this world, for he is not at home. He goes uncertainly about in endless search, seeking in darkness what he cannot find; not recognizing what it is he seeks. A thousand homes he makes, yet none contents his restless mind. He does not understand he builds in vain. The home he seeks can not be made by him. There is no substitute for Heaven. All he ever made was hell (W-pI.182.3).

And yet it is this very belief that there is a substitute for Heaven that constitutes sin, and the resultant and inevitable guilt continually propels the separated Son to review mentally the thought of separation and its effects that have already gone by. Thus all who come here share this guilt over their lost innocence. Moreover, their egos’ purpose for their manifestation in the world is the reinforcement of this guilt. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit’s purpose once people believe they are here, is the unlearning of this guilt through the practice of forgiveness that undoes the belief in victimization. This eventually restores to all the separated ones their awareness of the innocence that is rightly and eternally theirs as God’s one Son, the Christ He created as One with Him. 

In this context, one can understand that the popular view that babies are born innocent and are corrupted by society — Rousseau’s “noble savage” thesis — falls very nicely within the ego’s strategic plan to convince us that the world is real and has victimizing effects on us. The ego thought system upholds the idea that we are not the dreamer of the dream that is the world, but that rather the dream is dreaming us. Therefore, it is the world that is responsible for the loss of my innocence. It was not that I gave it away by my thoughts, but rather that it was taken from me, the innocent victim of a world I did not make or choose. This fundamental ego principle is the subject of the following passage from “The Hero of the Dream”: 

The body’s serial adventures, from the time of birth to dying are the theme of every dream the world has ever had. The “hero” of this dream will never change, nor will its purpose. Though the dream itself takes many forms, and seems to show a great variety of places and events wherein its “hero” finds itself, the dream has but one purpose, taught in many ways. This single lesson does it try to teach again, and still again, and yet once more; that it is cause and not effect, And you are its effect, and cannot be its cause. Thus are you not the dreamer, but the dream. And so you wander idly in and out of places and events that it contrives. That this is all the body does is true, for it is but a figure in a dream (T-27.VIII.3:1-4:3; italics ours).

Since ultimately our lives are our dreams — the outpicturing of the thoughts in our minds — only we can be responsible for the loss of innocence that is the central theme of everyone’s dream. No one is born innocent; only Christ is innocent, and He was never born. But through the process of forgiveness and accepting the correction for our mistaken thoughts, we can remember that we never truly sinned. In truth, therefore, we are innocent of any belief that we separated ourselves from Innocence Itself. 

accept only love

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 27, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 27

Chapter 4

THE ILLUSIONS OF THE EGO

Introduction

The Bible says that you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks. It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey. Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either. It can lead only to mutual progress. The result of genuine devotion is inspiration, a word which properly understood is the opposite of fatigue. To be fatigued is to be dis-spirited, but to be inspired is to be in the spirit. To be egocentric is to be dis-spirited, but to be Self-centred in the right sense is to be inspired or in spirit. The truly inspired are enlightened and cannot abide in darkness.

You can speak from the spirit or from the ego, as you choose. If you speak from spirit you have chosen to ‘Be still and know that I am God’. These words are inspired because they reflect knowledge. If you speak from the ego you are disclaiming knowledge instead of affirming it, and are thus dis-spiriting yourself. Do not embark on useless journeys, because they are indeed in vain. The ego may desire them, but spirit cannot embark on them because it is forever unwilling to depart from its Foundation.

The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey’. Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. If you can accept it as your own last useless journey, you are also free to join my resurrection. Until you do so your life is indeed wasted. It merely re-enacts the separation, the loss of power, the futile attempts of the ego at reparation, and finally the crucifixion of the body, or death. Such repetitions are endless until they are voluntarily given up. Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross’. The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose. This is not the Gospel I intended to offer you. We have another journey to undertake, and if you will read these lessons carefully they will help prepare you to undertake it.

 

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 27

Lesson 27

Above all else I want to see.

1. Today’s idea expresses something stronger than mere determination. It gives vision priority among your desires. You may feel hesitant about using the idea, on the grounds that you are not sure you really mean it. This does not matter. The purpose of today’s exercises is to bring the time when the idea will be wholly true a little nearer.

2. There may be a great temptation to believe that some sort of sacrifice is being asked of you when you say you want to see above all else. If you become uneasy about the lack of reservation involved, add:

Vision has no cost to anyone.

If fear of loss still persists, add further:

It can only bless.

3. The idea for today needs many repetitions for maximum bene­fit. It should be used at least every half hour, and more if possi­ble. You might try for every fifteen or twenty minutes. It is recommended that you set a definite time interval for using the idea when you wake or shortly afterwards, and attempt to adhere to it throughout the day. It will not be difficult to do this, even if you are engaged in conversation, or otherwise occupied at the time. You can still repeat one short sentence to yourself with­­out disturbing anything.

4. The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today’s idea to be true? Answer one of these questions, and you have answered the other. You will probably miss several applications, and perhaps quite a number. Do not be disturbed by this, but do try to keep on your schedule from then on. If only once during the day you feel that you were perfectly sincere while you were repeating today’s idea, you can be sure that you have saved yourself many years of effort.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

 Q) What about congenital defects or infant deaths? Are these chosen also? 

A) A congenital defect, as well as an infant’s death, is not chosen by the brain of the baby, but by the mind that projected a figure in a dream that was born deformed or died at a very early age. Please refer to the diagram for question 16 (http://www.miraclestudies.net/Question16p2.html), and recall that the split mind projects out many thoughts that take form throughout the hologram of time and space. Therefore, if a thought of imperfection or death is entertained by the separated mind, it can be experienced as a congenital defect or an infant death in what is perceived to be the life of an individual.  If one returns to our earlier analogy of the body (and brain) as a puppet, carrying out the wishes of the non-human mind, answers to questions like the above will make perfect sense. 

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 26, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 26

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

VII. Creating versus the Self-Image

Every system of thought must have a starting point. It begins with either a making or a creating, a difference we have already discussed. Their resemblance lies in their power as foundations. Their difference lies in what rests upon them. Both are cornerstones for systems of belief by which one lives. It is a mistake to believe that a thought system based on lies is weak. Nothing made by a child of God is without power. It is essential to realise this, because otherwise you will be unable to escape from the prison you have made.

You cannot resolve the authority problem by depreciating the power of your mind. To do so is to deceive yourself, and this will hurt you because you really understand the strength of the mind. You also realise that you cannot weaken it, any more than you can weaken God. The ‘devil’ is a frightening concept because he seems to be extremely powerful and extremely active. He is perceived as a force in combat with God, battling Him for possession of His creations. The devil deceives by lies, and builds kingdoms in which everything is in direct opposition to God. Yet he attracts men rather than repels them, and they are willing to ‘sell’ him their souls in return for gifts of no real worth. This makes absolutely no sense.

We have discussed the fall or separation before, but its meaning must be clearly understood. The separation is a system of thought real enough in time, though not in eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer. The fruit of only one tree was ‘forbidden’ in the symbolic garden. But God could not have forbidden it, or it could not have been eaten. If God knows His children, and I assure you that He does, would He have put them in a position where their own destruction was possible? The ‘forbidden tree’ was named the ‘tree of knowledge’. Yet God created knowledge and gave it freely to His creations. The symbolism here has been given many interpretations, but you may be sure that any interpretation that sees either God or His creations as capable of destroying Their Own purpose is in error.

Eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a symbolic expression for usurping the ability for self-creating. This is the only sense in which God and His creations are not co-creators. The belief that they are is implicit in the ‘self-concept’, or the tendency of the self to make an image of itself. Images are perceived, not known. Knowledge cannot deceive, but perception can. You can perceive yourself as self-creating, but you cannot do more than believe it. You cannot make it true. And, as I said before, when you finally perceive correctly you can only be glad that you cannot. Until then, however, the belief that you can is the foundation stone in your thought system, and all your defences are used to attack ideas that might bring it to light. You still believe you are an image of your own making. Your mind is split with the Holy Spirit on this point, and there is no resolution while you believe the one thing that is literally inconceivable. That is why you cannot create and are filled with fear about what you make.

The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the ‘devil’. It is powerful, active, destructive and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Look at your life and see what the devil has made. But realise that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth, because its foundation is a lie. Your creation by God is the only Foundation that cannot be shaken, because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning. Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. Your Self s still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death.

The branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of life, and your own thought system will stand corrected. It cannot stand otherwise. You who fear salvation are choosing death. Life and death, light and darkness, knowledge and perception, are irreconcilable. To believe that they can be reconciled is to believe that God and His Son can not. Only the oneness of knowledge is free of conflict. Your kingdom is not of this world because it was given you from beyond this world. Only in this world is the idea of an authority problem meaningful. The world is not left by death but by truth, and truth can be known by all those for whom the Kingdom was created, and for whom it waits.


***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 26

Lesson 26

My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.

1. It is surely obvious that if you can be attacked you are not invulnerable. You see attack as a real threat. That is because you believe that you can really attack. And what would have effects through you must also have effects on you. It is this law that will ultimately save you, but you are misusing it now. You must therefore learn how it can be used for your own best interests, rather than against them.

2. Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack. And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable. Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are. Attack thoughts and invulnerability cannot be accepted together. They contradict each other.

3. The idea for today introduces the thought that you always at­tack yourself first. If attack thoughts must entail the belief that you are vulnerable, their effect is to weaken you in your own eyes. Thus they have attacked your perception of yourself. And because you believe in them, you can no longer believe in yourself. A false image of yourself has come to take the place of what you are.

4. Practice with today’s idea will help you to understand that vulnerability or invulnerability is the result of your own thoughts. Nothing except your thoughts can attack you. Noth­ing except your thoughts can make you think you are vulner­able. And nothing except your thoughts can prove to you this is not so.

5. Six practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. A full two minutes should be attempted for each of them, although the time may be reduced to a minute if the discomfort is too great. Do not reduce it further.

6. The practice period should begin with repeating the idea for today, then closing your eyes and reviewing the unresolved ques­tions whose outcomes are causing you concern. The concern may take the form of depression, worry, anger, a sense of imposition, fear, foreboding or preoccupation. Any problem as yet unsettled that tends to recur in your thoughts during the day is a suitable subject. You will not be able to use very many for any one practice period, because a longer time than usual should be spent with each one. Today’s idea should be applied as follows:

7. First, name the situation:

I am concerned about _________.

Then go over every possible outcome that has occurred to you in that connection and which has caused you concern, referring to each one quite specifically, saying:

I am afraid _________ will happen.

8. If you are doing the exercises properly, you should have some five or six distressing possibilities available for each situation you use, and quite possibly more. It is much more helpful to cover a few situations thoroughly than to touch on a larger number. As the list of anticipated outcomes for each situation continues, you will probably find some of them, especially those that occur to you toward the end, less acceptable to you. Try, however, to treat them all alike to whatever extent you can.

9. After you have named each outcome of which you are afraid, tell yourself:

That thought is an attack upon myself.

Conclude each practice period by repeating today’s idea to yourself once more.

ACIM Q & A for Today

 Q) If all this is a dream or an illusion, does that mean that the abuse I suffered as a child is unreal and should be denied or ignored? 

A) Following from the answer to the preceding question, one can understand that childhood abuse, or any victimization, is part of a larger script that came into existence with the original thought of separation, which then shattered into billions of fragments. The “me” that I experience as myself, as well as all the experiences of the life I call my own, are but one aspect of the larger script of the decision maker. Indeed, all ego scripts are but projected dreams of a world of opposites that results from the belief that we (the victimizers) could banish God and His unity (the victim) from our minds. Thus, any part of our individual lives is a congealing in form of the ego script of victim-victimizer. Moreover, I must accept responsibility that my decision maker has written a script where I would experience the pain of abuse so that I could prove that God was wrong and I was right. In other words, there is no unity of the Sonship because the thoughts of separation and victimization actually occurred. Until I can accept this fact of my dream, I will not be able to accept the correction and healing of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, people should never deny what seems to be happening to them in their dreams, for these events become the means of helping them to awaken from the dream. Rather, they should pay careful attention to such experiences and then ask the Holy Spirit for help in becoming a happy learner, and accepting His happy dreams of correction to replace the nightmare dreams that their egos had made. 

For example, if one suffered such painful abuse as a child that all memories had been repressed and therefore rendered inaccessible to correction, some form of therapeutic intervention that allows the person to recall the early abuse can often be extremely helpful. If this is not done, the thought of fear that “protects” the thought of victimization is accorded power, and indeed continues to exercise this power in the service of maintaining the ego’s thought system of separation and pain. Therefore, as A Course in Miracles repeatedly emphasizes, a happy dream of forgiveness must precede the ultimate awakening, in which — still within the context of the dream of separation — a person is able to look with Jesus at the bitter symbols of the dream’s past, open them to re-examination and therefore correction. This is the meaning of the following all-important passage from the text that conveys the gentleness of Jesus’ corrective and healing love: 

Nothing more fearful than an idle dream has terrified God’s Son, and made him think that he has lost his innocence, denied his Father, and made war upon himself. So fearful is the dream, so seeming real, he could not waken to reality without the sweat of terror and a scream of mortal fear, unless a gentler dream preceded his awaking, and allowed his calmer mind to welcome, not to fear, the Voice that calls with love to waken him; a gentler dream, in which his suffering was healed and where his brother was his friend. God willed he waken gently and with joy, and gave him means to waken without fear (T-27.Vll.13:3-5).

And so, any intervention that allows individuals to gain access to their fear thoughts so that they can be looked at through the eyes of Jesus’ forgiveness — a vision of non- judgment — is of help. That is why Jesus dictated to Helen the pamphlet “Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice.” Though it clearly occurs within the ego’s dream of separation, psychotherapy can nonetheless be redirected by the Holy Spirit to serve His holy purpose of undoing the dream — through reversing the dynamics of denial and projection — by reflecting in therapist and patient the joining of God and Christ that is the only truth. 

As we have stated previously, it is indeed true that metaphysically speaking one’s early childhood abuse (or anything within a dream) is an illusion, but as long as one believes it did indeed happen — otherwise there would be no fear, denial, anger, or pain — then help must be reflected in the form the person needs. To dismiss a problem as mere illusion when one still believes one is a body and personality is simply silly, and not a legitimate spiritual practice.  Such practice in denial clearly serves no one well, and Jesus did not give us a Course in denial, but one in its undoing

the mind that serves spirit

 

 

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 25

ACIM Text Reading for January 25

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

VII. Creating versus the Self-Image

Every system of thought must have a starting point. It begins with either a making or a creating, a difference we have already discussed. Their resemblance lies in their power as foundations. Their difference lies in what rests upon them. Both are cornerstones for systems of belief by which one lives. It is a mistake to believe that a thought system based on lies is weak. Nothing made by a child of God is without power. It is essential to realise this, because otherwise you will be unable to escape from the prison you have made.

You cannot resolve the authority problem by depreciating the power of your mind. To do so is to deceive yourself, and this will hurt you because you really understand the strength of the mind. You also realise that you cannot weaken it, any more than you can weaken God. The ‘devil’ is a frightening concept because he seems to be extremely powerful and extremely active. He is perceived as a force in combat with God, battling Him for possession of His creations. The devil deceives by lies, and builds kingdoms in which everything is in direct opposition to God. Yet he attracts men rather than repels them, and they are willing to ‘sell’ him their souls in return for gifts of no real worth. This makes absolutely no sense.

We have discussed the fall or separation before, but its meaning must be clearly understood. The separation is a system of thought real enough in time, though not in eternity. All beliefs are real to the believer. The fruit of only one tree was ‘forbidden’ in the symbolic garden. But God could not have forbidden it, or it could not have been eaten. If God knows His children, and I assure you that He does, would He have put them in a position where their own destruction was possible? The ‘forbidden tree’ was named the ‘tree of knowledge’. Yet God created knowledge and gave it freely to His creations. The symbolism here has been given many interpretations, but you may be sure that any interpretation that sees either God or His creations as capable of destroying Their Own purpose is in error.

Eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is a symbolic expression for usurping the ability for self-creating. This is the only sense in which God and His creations are not co-creators. The belief that they are is implicit in the ‘self-concept’, or the tendency of the self to make an image of itself. Images are perceived, not known. Knowledge cannot deceive, but perception can. You can perceive yourself as self-creating, but you cannot do more than believe it. You cannot make it true. And, as I said before, when you finally perceive correctly you can only be glad that you cannot. Until then, however, the belief that you can is the foundation stone in your thought system, and all your defences are used to attack ideas that might bring it to light. You still believe you are an image of your own making. Your mind is split with the Holy Spirit on this point, and there is no resolution while you believe the one thing that is literally inconceivable. That is why you cannot create and are filled with fear about what you make.

The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the ‘devil’. It is powerful, active, destructive and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Look at your life and see what the devil has made. But realise that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth, because its foundation is a lie. Your creation by God is the only Foundation that cannot be shaken, because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning. Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. Your Self s still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death.

The branch that bears no fruit will be cut off and will wither away. Be glad! The light will shine from the true Foundation of life, and your own thought system will stand corrected. It cannot stand otherwise. You who fear salvation are choosing death. Life and death, light and darkness, knowledge and perception, are irreconcilable. To believe that they can be reconciled is to believe that God and His Son can not. Only the oneness of knowledge is free of conflict. Your kingdom is not of this world because it was given you from beyond this world. Only in this world is the idea of an authority problem meaningful. The world is not left by death but by truth, and truth can be known by all those for whom the Kingdom was created, and for whom it waits.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 25

Lesson 25

I do not know what anything is for.

1. Purpose is meaning. Today’s idea explains why nothing you see means anything. You do not know what it is for. Therefore, it is meaningless to you. Everything is for your own best inter­ests. That is what it is for; that is its purpose; that is what it means. It is in recognizing this that your goals become unified. It is in recognizing this that what you see is given meaning.

2. You perceive the world and everything in it as meaningful in terms of ego goals. These goals have nothing to do with your own best interests, because the ego is not you. This false identifi­cation makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for. As a result, you are bound to misuse it. When you believe this, you will try to withdraw the goals you have assigned to the world, instead of attempting to reinforce them.

3. Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with “personal” interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all. And thus you do not know what anything is for.

4. Before you can make any sense out of the exercises for today, one more thought is necessary. At the most superficial levels, you do recognize purpose. Yet purpose cannot be understood at these levels. For example, you do understand that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone who is not physically in your immediate vicinity. What you do not understand is what you want to reach him for. And it is this that makes your contact with him meaningful or not.

5. It is crucial to your learning to be willing to give up the goals you have established for everything. The recognition that they are meaningless, rather than “good” or “bad,” is the only way to accomplish this. The idea for today is a step in this direction.

6. Six practice periods, each of two-minutes duration, are required. Each practice period should begin with a slow repetition of the idea for today, followed by looking about you and letting your glance rest on whatever happens to catch your eye, near or far, “important” or “unimportant,” “human” or “nonhuman.” With your eyes resting on each subject you so select, say, for example:

I do not know what this chair is for.
I do not know what this pencil is for.
I do not know what this hand is for.

Say this quite slowly, without shifting your eyes from the subject until you have completed the statement about it. Then move on to the next subject, and apply today’s idea as before.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If all this is a dream or an illusion, or a script which is already written, what difference does it make what I do with my life?

A) While on one level A Course in Miracles does teach that this world is an illusion and that in truth our experiences here are hallucinations, on another level Jesus assures us that “it is almost impossible to deny its [the body’s] existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy from of denial” (T-2.IV.3:10 -11). Since it was our wrong minds that wrote the script of our many “lifetimes” in this delusional hologram of hatred, it would follow that the ego’s purpose would be to reinforce belief in the seeming reality of our experience here, which reflects our belief in the reality of our separation from God. And nothing serves this purpose better than the defense of denial, which makes the thoughts of guilt and fear so unacceptably real that they need to be repressed and never looked at again.  This ensures that the thought of separation remains real within the split mind, safe and protected” from the Holy Spirit. 

A Course in Miracles presents us with a choice between two ways of living in this dream world, which is the only true choice remaining to us within the dream. As we implied earlier, the Course teaches that we have a split mind which is really tripartite in structure: 1) a wrong mind that holds the ego thought system in place, and even though it appears that we have choices within the wrong mind, Jesus unequivocally states that to believe that there is a choice in the thought system of the ego is delusional and self-deceptive; 2) a right mind which is the home of the Holy Spirit, and holds a correction for each misthought or miscreation of the ego thought system; and 3) the part of the mind that chooses between the ego and the Holy Spirit, which we refer to as the decision maker. Therefore, our only true choice and freedom within the illusory dream of separation is to choose our right minds, allowing our wrong minds to be undone. We shall return to this important point in a later question. 

Consequently, A Course in Miracles instructs us that the only purpose the world holds is for us to choose the forgiveness script. The Holy Spirit offers us a correction for the ego’s nightmare dreams of guilt and attack, wherein the world becomes a classroom in which we can learn the lessons of forgiveness. In this way, the guilt we made that ultimately brought about the making of the body and the world is undone.  Simply indulging the ego’s fantasies under the justification that “It doesn’t matter anyway” would make these desires real (otherwise why indulge them?), and root one still further in the ego’s dream of guilt. Such self-indulgence could include acting out repressed desires such as murder, theft, deception, anger, sexual exploitation, etc., or on the other hand, giving way to thoughts of meaninglessness, depression, and even suicide. And thus the above question — “What difference does it make what I do with my life?” — can be understood from a totally different perspective. This is a perspective that gives great meaning to our lives, for it states: “I have a choice to make: which dream do I choose to follow; to which dream will I be loyal?” 

In summary then, we see that on the metaphysical level, everything we do — not to mention our personal identity — is an illusion. However, on the level of the dream, where we most certainly believe we are, our lives make a tremendous difference; not so much in terms of what we do, but with whom we do it. Only by choosing Jesus or the Holy Spirit as our teacher, guide, and friend can we undo the cause of our remaining asleep and dreaming dreams which are rooted in the belief in the reality of the separation from our Source, and from each other. We cannot change the script, which is already written and has indeed been undone.  But we can change from the ego’s script to the Holy Spirit’s. Helping us to accomplish this is the purpose of  A Course in Miracles

the way to god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 24, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 24

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

VI. Judgement and the Authority Problem

We have already discussed the Last Judgement, but in insufficient detail. After the Last Judgement there will be no more. Judgement is symbolic because beyond perception there is no judgement. When the Bible says ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’, it means that if you judge the reality of others you will be unable to avoid judging your own.

The choice to judge rather than to know is the cause of the loss of peace. Judgement is the process on which perception but not knowledge rests. I have discussed this before in terms of the selectivity of perception, pointing out that evaluation is its obvious prerequisite. Judgement always involves rejection. It never emphasises only the positive aspects of what is judged, whether in you or in others. What has been perceived and rejected, or judged and found wanting, remains in your mind because it has been perceived. One of the illusions from which you suffer is the belief that what you judged against has no effect. This cannot be true unless you also believe that what you judged against does not exist. You evidently do not believe this, or you would not have judged against it. In the end it does not matter whether your judgement is right or wrong. Either way you are placing your belief in the unreal. This cannot be avoided in any type of judgement, because it implies the belief that reality is yours to select from.

You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgement. When you recognise what you are and what your brothers are, you will realise that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them. All uncertainty comes from the belief that you are under the coercion of judgement. You do not need judgement to organise your life, and you certainly do not need it to organise yourself. In the presence of knowledge all judgement is automatically suspended, and this is the process that enables recognition to replace perception.

You are very fearful of everything you have perceived but have refused to accept. You believe that, because you have refused to accept it, you have lost control over it. This is why you see it in nightmares, or in pleasant disguises in what seem to be your happier dreams. Nothing that you have refused to accept can be brought into awareness. It is not dangerous in itself, but you have made it seem dangerous to you.

When you feel tired, it is because you have judged yourself as capable of being tired. When you laugh at someone, it is because you have judged him as unworthy. When you laugh at yourself you must laugh at others, if only because you cannot tolerate the idea of being more unworthy than they are. All this makes you feel tired because it is essentially disheartening. You are not really capable of being tired, but you are very capable of wearying yourself. The strain of constant judgement is virtually intolerable. It is curious that an ability so debilitating would be so deeply cherished. Yet if you wish to be the author of reality, you will insist on holding on to judgement. You will also regard judgement with fear, believing that it will someday be used against you. This belief can exist only to the extent that you believe in the efficacy of judgement as a weapon of defence for your own authority.

God offers only mercy. Your words should reflect only mercy, because that is what you have received and that is what you should give. Justice is a temporary expedient, or an attempt to teach you the meaning of mercy. It is judgemental only because you are capable of injustice.

I have spoken of different symptoms, and at that level there is almost endless variation. There is, however, only one cause for all of them: the authority problem. This is ‘the root of all evil’. Every symptom the ego makes involves a contradiction in terms, because the mind is split between the ego and the Holy Spirit, so that whatever the ego makes is incomplete and contradictory. This untenable position is the result of the authority problem which, because it accepts the one inconceivable thought as its premise, can produce only ideas that are inconceivable.

The issue of authority is really a question of authorship. When you have an authority problem, it is always because you believe you are the author of yourself and project your delusion onto others. You then perceive the situation as one in which others are literally fighting you for your authorship. This is the fundamental error of all those who believe they have usurped the power of God. This belief is very frightening to them, but hardly troubles God. He is, however, eager to undo it, not to punish His children, but only because He knows that it makes them unhappy. God’s creations are given their true Authorship, but you prefer to be anonymous when you choose to separate yourself from your Author. Being uncertain of your true Authorship, you believe that your creation was anonymous. This leaves you in a position where it sounds meaningful to believe that you created yourself. The dispute over authorship has left such uncertainty in your mind that it may even doubt whether you really exist at all.

Only those who give over all desire to reject can know that their own rejection is impossible. You have not usurped the power of God, but you have lost it. Fortunately, to lose something does not mean that it has gone. It merely means that you do not remember where it is. Its existence does not depend on your ability to identify it, or even to place it. It is possible to look on reality without judgement and merely know that it is there.

Peace is a natural heritage of spirit. Everyone is free to refuse to accept his inheritance, but he is not free to establish what his inheritance is. The problem everyone must decide is the fundamental question of authorship. All fear comes ultimately, and sometimes by way of very devious routes, from the denial of Authorship. The offence is never to God, but only to those who deny Him. To deny His Authorship is to deny yourself the reason for your peace, so that you see yourself only in segments. This strange perception is the authority problem.

There is no one who does not feel that he is imprisoned in some way. If this is the result of his own free will he must regard his will as not free, or the circular reasoning in this position would be quite apparent. Free will must lead to freedom. Judgement always imprisons because it separates segments of reality by the unstable scales of desire. Wishes are not facts. To wish is to imply that willing is not sufficient. Yet no one in his right mind believes that what is wished is as real as what is willed. Instead of ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven’ say, ‘Will ye first the Kingdom of Heaven’, and you have said, ‘I know what I am and I accept my own inheritance’.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 24

Lesson 24 ~ I do not perceive my own best interests.

1. In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy. Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result. What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are.

2. If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn. The idea for today is a step toward opening your mind so that learning can begin.

3. The exercises for today require much more honesty than you are accustomed to using. A few subjects, honestly and carefully considered in each of the five practice periods which should be undertaken today, will be more helpful than a more cursory ex­amination of a large number. Two minutes are suggested for each of the mind-searching periods which the exercises involve.

4. The practice periods should begin with repeating today’s idea, followed by searching the mind, with closed eyes, for unresolved situations about which you are currently concerned. The emphasis should be on uncovering the outcome you want. You will quickly realize that you have a number of goals in mind as part of the desired outcome, and also that these goals are on different levels and often conflict.

5. In applying the idea for today, name each situation that occurs to you, and then enumerate carefully as many goals as possible that you would like to be met in its resolution. The form of each application should be roughly as follows:

In the situation involving _________, I would like _________ to happen, and _________ to happen,

and so on. Try to cover as many different kinds of outcomes as may honestly occur to you, even if some of them do not appear to be directly related to the situation, or even to be inherent in it at all.

6. If these exercises are done properly, you will quickly recognize that you are making a large number of demands of the situation which have nothing to do with it. You will also recognize that many of your goals are contradictory, that you have no unified outcome in mind, and that you must experience disappointment in connection with some of your goals, however the situation turns out.

7. After covering the list of as many hoped-for goals as possible, for each unresolved situation that crosses your mind say to yourself:

I do not perceive my own best interests in this situation,

and go on to the next one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) A Course in Miracles teaches that there is no death. Can this be taken to mean that physical immortality is possible? 

A) Absolutely not! The Course teaches there is no death because spirit is immortal. The workbook lesson “I am as God created me” occurs three times and is also the central theme of a review section. This highlights the importance of the concept that only what God created (Christ) is eternal, and that this world of bodies — having been made as the opposite to Heaven — would have as its agenda to render immortality impossible. As is stated early in the text of the ego’s inability to reach “eternalness”: 

The ego thinks it is an advantage not to commit itself to anything that is eternal, because the eternal must come from God. Eternalness is the one function the ego has tried to develop, but has systematically failed to achieve. The ego compromises with the issue of the eternal, just as it does with all issues touching on the real question in any way (T-4.V.6:1-3).

In addition, bodies exist only in dreams — the hallucinations we call life — and therefore the length of this “life” has absolutely nothing to do with reality, let alone the eternal life of spirit. 

One can thus see that the very term physical immortality is an oxymoron, a contradiction that reflects a misunderstanding of the theology of A Course in Miracles and obscures the crucial difference between reality and illusion. The concept is thus but one more ego ploy that many separated minds indulge in, thereby attempting to pervert the true meaning of the Course by making real the ego thought system and its world. 

The devil can cite scripture for its own purpose, as Shakespeare commented in “The Merchant of Venice,” and unfortunately the egos of students of A Course in Miracles can play the same trick. If students wish to support their own belief system that they (and their bodies) can be immortal, they can easily wrench statements from the Course out of context to support their desire. For example, under “The Attraction of Death,” the third obstacle to peace in Chapter 19 of the text, there is the following statement under the subsection entitled “The Incorruptible Body”: 

You have another dedication that would keep the body incorruptible and perfect as long as it is useful for your holy purpose. The body no more dies than it can feel …. Death, were it true, would be the final and complete disruption of communication, which is the ego’s goal (T-19.IV-C.5:1-2; 6:5).

And another sentence that has been taken out of its context to prove that the body can be immortal is from the manual for teachers, the section entitled “What Is Death?” We give just the single line here, and the total passage will be quoted below in the next question: 

But what is born of God and still can die? (M-27.6:8)

And so students will falsely conclude that since they — as physical and psychological individuals — were created by the eternal God as Himself, they can never die. This then becomes the rationale for affirming the validity of physical immortality. The mistake, obviously, lies in believing that God did, in fact, create them as individuals, and as bodies to boot. What is truly “born of God” is Christ, our Self that is only spirit, and it is that Self that is eternal and can never die. The false self that has a physical and psychological identity remains within the dream where there is only the illusion of birth, life, and death. 
Some students, moreover, use the above lines as proof that Jesus is advocating physical immortality by stating that the body is incorruptible. However, they have failed to understand the context of the above passage (and subsection title) by eliminating the complete quotation. The reason that “the body no more dies than it can feel” and that death is not true, is that the body does not truly exist. Indeed, the body in truth does not die, but that is because it does not live. Only within the illusory dreams of the Son’s sleeping mind does the body appear to be born, live, and die — a sequence that the God of life itself knows nothing about. Furthermore, death of the body presupposes that there was first life; otherwise, the concept has no meaning. As Jesus also states in this passage: 

It [the body] does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing.  It is the result of a tiny, mad idea of corruption that can be corrected (T-19.IV-C.5:3-6).

What is nothing therefore does not (and cannot) live, and consequently it does not (and cannot) die either. 
In the text we find an even more compelling passage that describes the body’s absolute lack of being, similar to a lifeless puppet that merely carries out the wishes of its master, the puppeteer, the body’s master, of course, being the mind: 

Who punishes the body is insane. For here the little gap [separation] is seen, and yet it is not here. It has not judged itself, nor made itself to be what it is not. It does not seek to make of pain a joy and look for lasting pleasure in the dust. It does not tell you what its purpose is and cannot understand what it is for. It does not victimize, because it has no will, no preferences and no doubts.  It does not wonder what it is. And so it has no need to be competitive. It can be victimized, but cannot feel itself as victim. It accepts no role, but does what it is told [by the mind), without attack.It is … a thing that cannot see… [and] cannot hear…. it has no feeling. It behaves in ways you [the decision maker in the mind] want, but never makes the choice. It is not born and does not die.  It can but follow aimlessly the path on which it has been set (T-28.VI.1:1-2:5; italics ours).

Once again, within the Son’s dream of separation the body does indeed seem to be born, live, and die, but this is only in the world of illusion. For only in the reality of spirit is there truly life or being, and this has nothing to do with the physical existence which is of the ego. That is why early in the text Jesus contrasts the specificity of illusory existence with the abstract reality of being (T-4.VIl.4,5). 

Therefore, we conclude that A Course in Miracles is unequivocal in its teaching that only spirit is immortal.  To believe we can exist in any other state — meaning the physical — is to follow the ego’s attempts to make the dream of separation a reality, in which our individual identity is secure, by having us believe in the illusion it calls life. And this attempt, naturally, is diametrically opposed to the ultimate purpose of the Course, which is to help us all awaken from the dream of individuality to our true Identity as Christ, the immortal and one Son of God. 

memory of god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 23, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 23

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

V. Beyond Perception

I have said that the abilities you possess are only shadows of your real strength, and that perception, which is inherently judgemental, was introduced only after the separation. No one has been sure of anything since. I have also made it clear that the resurrection was the means for the return to knowledge, which was accomplished by the union of my will with the Father’s. We can now establish a distinction that will clarify some of our subsequent statements.

Since the separation, the words ‘create’ and ‘make’ have become confused. When you make something, you do so out of a specific sense of lack or need. Anything made for a specific purpose has no true generalisability. When you make something to fill a perceived lack, you are tacitly implying that you believe in separation. The ego has invented many ingenious thought systems for this purpose. None of them is creative. Inventiveness is wasted effort even in its most ingenious form. The highly specific nature of invention is not worthy of the abstract creativity of God’s creations.

Knowing, as we have already observed, does not lead to doing. The confusion between your real creation and what you have made of yourself is so profound that it has become literally impossible for you to know anything. Knowledge is always stable, and it is quite evident that you are not. Nevertheless, you are perfectly stable as God created you. In this sense, when your behaviour is unstable, you are disagreeing with God’s idea of your creation. You can do this if you choose, but you would hardly want to do it if you were in your right mind.

The fundamental question you continually ask yourself cannot properly be directed to yourself at all. You keep asking what it is you are. This implies that the answer is not only one you know, but is also one that is up to you to supply. Yet you cannot perceive yourself correctly. You have no image to be perceived. The word ‘image’ is always perception-related, and not a part of knowledge. Images are symbolic and stand for something else. The idea of ‘changing your image’ recognises the power of perception, but also implies that there is nothing stable to know.

Knowing is not open to interpretation. You may try to ‘interpret’ meaning, but this is always open to error because it refers to the perception of meaning. Such incongruities are the result of attempts to regard yourself as separated and unseparated at the same time. It is impossible to make so fundamental a confusion without increasing your overall confusion still further. Your mind may have become very ingenious, but as always happens when method and content are separated, it is utilised in a futile attempt to escape from an inescapable impasse. Ingenuity is totally divorced from knowledge, because knowledge does not require ingenuity. Ingenious thinking is not the truth that shall set you free, but you are free of the need to engage in it when you are willing to let it go.

Prayer is a way of asking for something. It is the medium of miracles. But the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless. The prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that you may be able to recognise what you already have. In electing perception instead of knowledge, you placed yourself in a position where you could resemble your Father only by perceiving miraculously. You have lost the knowledge that you yourself are a miracle of God. Creation is your Source and your only real function.

The statement ‘God created man in his own image and likeness’ needs reinterpretation. ‘Image’ can be understood as ‘thought’, and ‘likeness’ as ‘of a like quality’. God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There is nothing else. Perception, on the other hand, is impossible without a belief in ‘more’ and ‘less’.. At every level it involves selectivity. Perception is a continual process of accepting and rejecting, organising and reorganising, shifting and changing. Evaluation is an essential part of perception, because judgements are necessary in order to select.

What happens to perceptions if there are no judgements and nothing but perfect equality? Perception becomes impossible. Truth can only be known. All of it is equally true, and knowing any part of it is to know all of it. Only perception involves partial awareness. Knowledge transcends the laws governing perception, because partial knowledge is impossible. It is all one and has no separate parts. You who are really one with it need but know yourself and your knowledge is complete. To know God’s miracle is to know Him.

Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation. Correct perception of your brother is necessary, because minds have chosen to see themselves as separate. Spirit knows God completely. That is its miraculous power. The fact that each one has this power completely is a condition entirely alien to the world’s thinking. The world believes that if anyone has everything, there is nothing left. But God’s miracles are as total as His Thoughts because they are His Thoughts.

As long as perception lasts prayer has a place. Since perception rests on lack, those who perceive have not totally accepted the Atonement and given themselves over to truth. Perception is based on a separated state, so that anyone who perceives at all needs healing. Communion, not prayer, is the natural state of those who know. God and His miracle are inseparable. How beautiful indeed are the Thoughts of God who live in His Light! Your worth is beyond perception because it is beyond doubt. Do not perceive yourself in different lights. Know yourself in the One Light where the miracle that is you is perfectly clear.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 23

Lesson 23

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.

1. The idea for today contains the only way out of fear that will ever succeed. Nothing else will work; everything else is mean­ingless. But this way cannot fail. Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed.

2. If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.

3. The world you see is a vengeful world, and everything in it is a symbol of vengeance. Each of your perceptions of “external reality” is a pictorial representation of your own attack thoughts. One can well ask if this can be called seeing. Is not fantasy a better word for such a process, and hallucination a more appropriate term for the result?

4. You see the world that you have made, but you do not see yourself as the image maker. You cannot be saved from the world, but you can escape from its cause. This is what salvation means, for where is the world you see when its cause is gone? Vision already holds a replacement for everything you think you see now. Loveliness can light your images, and so transform them that you will love them, even though they were made of hate. For you will not be making them alone.

5. The idea for today introduces the thought that you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not. Your im­ages have already been replaced. By taking the first two steps, you will see that this is so.

6. Besides using it throughout the day as the need arises, five practice periods are required in applying today’s idea. As you look about you, repeat the idea slowly to yourself first, and then close your eyes and devote about a minute to searching your mind for as many attack thoughts as occur to you. As each one crosses your mind say:

I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts about _________.

Hold each attack thought in mind as you say this, and then dismiss that thought and go on to the next.

7. In the practice periods, be sure to include both your thoughts of attacking and of being attacked. Their effects are exactly the same because they are exactly the same. You do not recognize this as yet, and you are asked at this time only to treat them as the same in today’s practice periods. We are still at the stage of iden­tifying the cause of the world you see. When you finally learn that thoughts of attack and of being attacked are not different, you will be ready to let the cause go.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Can the ego mind be equated with the human brain? 

A) No. The mind is non-physical and non-tangible; i.e., it cannot be dissected in a laboratory, photographed by a camera, or analyzed by any empirical method. The brain, on the other hand, is a physical organ that is quite tangible, and can be dissected and studied readily in a laboratory. It is the “computer” that seems to run the body, organizing the sensory data that enter it into seemingly meaningful patterns, and directing all the bodily systems and functions to adjust to the body’s place in the physical universe. In truth, however, it is the mind that is the programmer and directs the brain to function as it sees fit, just as a computer does what the operator tells it to do. The mind is the command center from which all directives emanate, as they instruct the brain to establish as an experiential reality the world of time and space that is already over, and which in truth never even existed! 

In and of itself, therefore, the brain can do nothing, because it is nothing but the receptor-organ of the mind. This insane belief that the brain can function independently of the mind — which is crucial to the ego’s strategy of protecting the split mind and therefore itself — is reflected in this passage from the workbook: 

You … believe the body’s brain can think. If you but understood the nature of thought, you could but laugh at this insane idea. it is as if you thought you held the match that lights the sun and gives it all its warmth; or that you held the world within your hand, securely bound until you let it go. Yet this is no more foolish that to believe the body’s eyes can see; the brain can think (W-pI.92.2).

The relationship of the brain to the mind, of effect to cause, is stated here in the text: 

The brain cannot interpret what your vision sees [based upon reason, or the Holy Spirit’s Presence in the mind]…. The brain interprets [only] to the body, of which it is a part (T-22.1.2:7,9).

Clearly then, it is the mind that does the true interpreting, not the brain. This is underscored in this passage from the manual for teachers, where the cause of perception is seen to be the mind, not the eyes nor, by implication, the brain. This passage, incidentally, is not found in the first edition of the Course: 

Yet it is surely the mind that judges what the eyes behold [not the brain]. It is the mind that interprets the eyes’ messages and gives them “meaning.”… Its hierarchy of values is projected outward, and it sends the body’s eyes to find it …. Yet it is not the messages they bring on which perception rests.  Only the mind evaluates their messages, and so only the mind is responsible for seeing. It alone decides whether what is seen is real or illusory, desirable or undesirable, pleasurable or painful (M-8.3:3-4,7,9-11).

The Journey to God

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for January 22, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for January 22

Chapter 3 ~ The Innocent Perception

IV. Error and the Ego

The abilities you now possess are only shadows of your real strength. All of your present functions are divided and open to question and doubt. This is because you are not certain how you will use them, and are therefore incapable of knowledge. You are also incapable of knowledge because you can still perceive lovelessly. Perception did not exist until the separation introduced degrees, aspects and intervals. Spirit has no levels, and all conflict arises from the concept of levels. Only the Levels of the Trinity are capable of Unity. The levels created by the separation cannot but conflict. This is because they are meaningless to each other.

Consciousness, the level of perception, was the first split introduced into the mind after the separation, making the mind a perceiver rather than a creator. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego. The ego is a wrong-minded attempt to perceive yourself as you wish to be, rather than as you are. Yet you can know yourself only as you are, because that is all you can be sure of. Everything else is open to question.

The ego is the questioning aspect of the post-separation self, which was made rather than created. It is capable of asking questions but not of perceiving meaningful answers, because these would involve knowledge and cannot be perceived. The mind is therefore confused, because only One-mindedness can be without confusion. A separated or divided mind must be confused. It is necessarily uncertain about what it is. It has to be in conflict because it is out of accord with itself. This makes its aspects strangers to each other, and this is the essence of the fear-prone condition, in which attack is always possible. You have every reason to feel afraid as you perceive yourself. This is why you cannot escape from fear until you realise that you did not and could not create yourself. You can never make your misperceptions true, and your creation is beyond your own error. That is why you must eventually choose to heal the separation.

Right-mindedness is not to be confused with the knowing mind, because it is applicable only to right perception. You can be right-minded or wrong-minded, and even this is subject to degrees, clearly demonstrating that knowledge is not involved. The term ‘right-mindedness’ is properly used as the correction for ‘wrong- mindedness’, and applies to the state of mind that induces accurate perception. It is miracle-minded because it heals misperception, and this is indeed a miracle in view of how you perceive yourself.

Perception always involves some misuse of mind, because it brings the mind into areas of uncertainty. The mind is very active. When it chooses to be separated it chooses to perceive. Until then it wills only to know. Afterwards it can only choose ambiguously, and the only way out of ambiguity is clear perception. The mind returns to its proper function only when it wills to know. This places it in the service of spirit, where perception is changed. The mind chooses to divide itself when it chooses to make its own levels. But it could not entirely separate itself from spirit, because it is from spirit that it derives its whole power to make or create. Even in miscreation the mind is affirming its Source, or it would merely cease to be. This is impossible, because the mind belongs to spirit which God created and which is therefore eternal.

The ability to perceive made the body possible, because you must perceive something and with something. That is why perception involves an exchange or translation, which knowledge does not need. The interpretative function of perception, a distorted form of creation, then permits you to interpret the body as yourself in an attempt to escape from the conflict you have induced. Spirit, which knows, could not be reconciled with this loss of power, because it is incapable of darkness. This makes spirit almost inaccessible to the mind and entirely inaccessible to the body. Thereafter, spirit is perceived as a threat, because light abolishes darkness merely by showing you it is not there. Truth will always overcome error in this way. This cannot be an active process of correction because, as I have already emphasised, knowledge does not do anything. It can be perceived as an attacker, but it cannot attack. What you perceive as its attack is your own vague recognition that knowledge can always be remembered, never having been destroyed.

God and His creations remain in surety, and therefore know that no miscreation exists. Truth cannot deal with errors that you want. I was a man who remembered spirit and its knowledge. As a man I did not attempt to counteract error with knowledge, but to correct error from the bottom up. I demonstrated both the powerlessness of the body and the power of the mind. By uniting my will with that of my Creator, I naturally remembered spirit and its real purpose. I cannot unite your will with God’s for you, but I can erase all misperceptions from your mind if you will bring it under my guidance. Only your misperceptions stand in your way. Without them your choice is certain. Sane perception induces sane choosing. I cannot choose for you, but I can help you make your own right choice. ‘Many are called but few are chosen’ should be, ‘All are called but few choose to listen’. Therefore, they do not choose right. The ‘chosen ones’ are merely those who choose right sooner. Right minds can do this now, and they will find rest unto their souls. God knows you only in peace, and this is your reality.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 22

Lesson 22

What I see is a form of vengeance.

1. Today’s idea accurately describes the way anyone who holds attack thoughts in his mind must see the world. Having pro­jected his anger onto the world, he sees vengeance about to strike at him. His own attack is thus perceived as self defense. This becomes an increasingly vicious circle until he is willing to change how he sees. Otherwise, thoughts of attack and counter­attack will preoccupy him and people his entire world. What peace of mind is possible to him then?

2. It is from this savage fantasy that you want to escape. Is it not joyous news to hear that it is not real? Is it not a happy discovery to find that you can escape? You made what you would destroy; everything that you hate and would attack and kill. All that you fear does not exist.

3. Look at the world about you at least five times today, for at least a minute each time. As your eyes move slowly from one object to another, from one body to another, say to yourself:

I see only the perishable.
I see nothing that will last.
What I see is not real.
What I see is a form of vengeance.

At the end of each practice period, ask yourself:

Is this the world I really want to see?

The answer is surely obvious.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Since we have made ourselves separate, how come we all seem to perceive the same attributes of matter, and agree on its basic characteristics and experience its laws?

A) When the thought of separation seemed to occur, it was a single thought in a single split mind. As the thought process of separation proceeded, culminating in the making of the physical universe, this one thought appeared to divide into billions and billions of fragments. Each of these fragments contains all aspects of the original thought of separation.  Therefore, each seeming fragment would experience all the effects from that illusory thought of separation, i.e., all the so-called laws of astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, etc., that are an inherent part of the making of the universe. Thus the one ego thought appears as many.  This accounts for the paradox of people on the one hand sharing a common perception of the world, while on the other having very personal and individualized tastes, perceptions, and experiences. In the end, all seemingly separated minds are one — one thought of separation — yet each fragment appears to be separate, and believes itself to be unique and independent of the others.

the mind that serves spirit