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
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.