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.