ACIM Text Reading for February 20
Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
V. The Lessons of the Holy Spirit
C. Be Vigilant Only for God and His Kingdom
We said before that the Holy Spirit is evaluative, and must be. He sorts out the true from the false in your mind, and teaches you to judge every thought you allow to enter it in the light of what God put there. Whatever is in accord with this light He retains, to strengthen the Kingdom in you. What is partly in accord with it He accepts and purifies. But what is out of accord entirely He rejects by judging against. This is how He keeps the Kingdom perfectly consistent and perfectly unified. Remember, however, that what the Holy Spirit rejects the ego accepts. This is because they are in fundamental disagreement about everything, being in fundamental disagreement about what you are. The ego’s beliefs on this crucial issue vary, and that is why it promotes different moods. The Holy Spirit never varies on this point, and so the one mood He engenders is joy. He protects it by rejecting everything that does not foster joy, and so He alone can keep you wholly joyous.
The Holy Spirit does not teach you to judge others, because He does not want you to teach error and learn it yourself. He would hardly be consistent if He allowed you to strengthen what you must learn to avoid. In the mind of the thinker, then, He isjudgemental, but only in order to unify the mind so it can perceive without judgement. This enables the mind to teach without judgement, and therefore to learn to be without judgement. The undoing is necessary only in your mind, so that you will not project, instead of extend. God Himself has established what you can extend with perfect safety. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s third lesson is:
This is a major step toward fundamental change. Yet it still has an aspect of thought reversal, since it implies that there is something you must be vigilant against. It has advanced far from the first lesson, which is merely the beginning of the thought reversal, and also from the second, which is essentially the identification of what is more desirable. This step, which follows from the second as the second follows from the first, emphasises the dichotomy between the desirable and the undesirable. It therefore makes the ultimate choice inevitable.
While the first step seems to increase conflict and the second may still entail conflict to some extent, this step calls for consistent vigilance against it. I have already told you that you can be as vigilant against the ego as for it. This lesson teaches not only that you can be, but that you must be. It does not concern itself with order of difficulty, but with clear-cut priority for vigilance. This lesson is unequivocal in that it teaches there must be no exceptions, although it does not deny that the temptation to make exceptions will occur. Here, then, your consistency is called on despite chaos. Yet chaos and consistency cannot coexist for long, since they are mutually exclusive. As long as you must be vigilant against anything, however, you are not recognising this mutual exclusiveness, and still believe that you can choose either one. By teaching what to choose, the Holy Spirit will ultimately teach you that you need not choose at all. This will finally liberate your mind from choice, and direct it towards creation within the Kingdom.
Choosing through the Holy Spirit will lead you to the Kingdom. You create by your true being, but what you are you must learn to remember. The way to remember it is inherent in the third step, which brings together the lessons implied in the others, and goes beyond them towards real integration. If you allow yourself to have in your mind only what God put there, you are acknowledging your mind as God created it. Therefore, you are accepting it as it is. Since it is whole, you are teaching peace because you believe in it. The final step will still be taken for you by God, but by the third step the Holy Spirit has prepared you for God. He is getting you ready for the translation of having into being by the very nature of the steps you must take with Him.
You learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting. Next you learn that you learn what you teach, and that you want to learn peace. This is the condition for identifying with the Kingdom, since it is the condition of the Kingdom. You have believed that you are without the Kingdom, and have therefore excluded yourself from it in your belief. It is therefore essential to teach you that you must be included, and that the belief that you are not is the only thing that you must exclude.
The third step is thus one of protection for your mind, allowing you to identify only with the centre, where God placed the altar to Himself. Altars are beliefs, but God and His creations are beyond belief because they are beyond question. The Voice for God speaks only for belief beyond question, which is the preparation for being without question. As long as belief in God and His Kingdom is assailed by any doubts in your mind, His perfect accomplishment is not apparent to you. This is why you must be vigilant on God’s behalf. The ego speaks against His creation, and therefore engenders doubt. You cannot go beyond belief until you believe fully.
To teach the whole Sonship without exception demonstrates that you perceive its wholeness, and have learned that it is one. Now you must be vigilant to hold its oneness in your mind because, if you let doubt enter, you will lose awareness of its wholeness and will be unable to teach it. The wholeness of the Kingdom does not depend on your perception, but your awareness of its wholeness does. It is only your awareness that needs protection, since being cannot be assailed. Yet a real sense of being cannot be yours while you are doubtful of what you are. This is why vigilance is essential. Doubts about being must not enter your mind, or you cannot know what you are with certainty. Certainty is of God for you. Vigilance is not necessary for truth, but it is necessary against illusions.
Truth is without illusions and therefore within the Kingdom. Everything outside the Kingdom is illusion. When you threw truth away you saw yourself as if you were without it. By making another kingdom that you valued, you did not keep only the Kingdom of God in your mind, and thus placed part of your mind outside it. What you made has imprisoned your will, and given you a sick mind that must be healed. Your vigilance against this sickness is the way to heal it. Once your mind is healed it radiates health, and thereby teaches healing. This establishes you as a teacher who teaches like me. Vigilance was required of me as much as of you, and those who choose to teach the same thing must be in agreement about what they believe.
The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 20
1. Beginning with today we will have a series of review periods. Each of them will cover five of the ideas already presented, starting with the first and ending with the fiftieth. There will be a few short comments after each of the ideas, which you should consider in your review. In the practice periods, the exercises should be done as follows:
2. Begin the day by reading the five ideas, with the comments included. Thereafter, it is not necessary to follow any particular order in considering them, though each one should be practiced at least once. Devote two minutes or more to each practice period, thinking about the idea and the related comments after reading them over. Do this as often as possible during the day. If any one of the five ideas appeals to you more than the others, concentrate on that one. At the end of the day, however, be sure to review all of them once more.
3. It is not necessary to cover the comments that follow each idea either literally or thoroughly in the practice periods. Try, rather, to emphasize the central point, and think about it as part of your review of the idea to which it relates. After you have read the idea and the related comments, the exercises should be done with your eyes closed and when you are alone in a quiet place, if possible.
4. This is emphasized for practice periods at your stage of learning. It will be necessary, however, that you learn to require no special settings in which to apply what you have learned. You will need your learning most in situations that appear to be upsetting, rather than in those that already seem to be calm and quiet. The purpose of your learning is to enable you to bring the quiet with you, and to heal distress and turmoil. This is not done by avoiding them and seeking a haven of isolation for yourself.
5. You will yet learn that peace is part of you, and requires only that you be there to embrace any situation in which you are. And finally you will learn that there is no limit to where you are, so that your peace is everywhere, as you are.
6. You will note that, for review purposes, some of the ideas are not given in quite their original form. Use them as they are given here. It is not necessary to return to the original statements, nor to apply the ideas as was suggested then. We are now emphasizing the relationships among the first fifty of the ideas we have covered, and the cohesiveness of the thought system to which they are leading you.
The review for today covers the following ideas:
1. (1) Nothing I see means anything.
The reason this is so is that I see nothing, and nothing has no meaning. It is necessary that I recognize this, that I may learn to see. What I think I see now is taking the place of vision. I must let it go by realizing it has no meaning, so that vision may take its place.
2. (2) I have given what I see all the meaning it has for me.
I have judged everything I look upon, and it is this and only this I see. This is not vision. It is merely an illusion of reality, because my judgments have been made quite apart from reality. I am willing to recognize the lack of validity in my judgments, because I want to see. My judgments have hurt me, and I do not want to see according to them.
3. (3) I do not understand anything I see.
How could I understand what I see when I have judged it amiss? What I see is the projection of my own errors of thought. I do not understand what I see because it is not understandable. There is no sense in trying to understand it. But there is every reason to let it go, and make room for what can be seen and understood and loved. I can exchange what I see now for this merely by being willing to do so. Is not this a better choice than the one I made before?
4. (4) These thoughts do not mean anything.
The thoughts of which I am aware do not mean anything because I am trying to think without God. What I call “my” thoughts are not my real thoughts. My real thoughts are the thoughts I think with God. I am not aware of them because I have made my thoughts to take their place. I am willing to recognize that my thoughts do not mean anything, and to let them go. I choose to have them be replaced by what they were intended to replace. My thoughts are meaningless, but all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God.
5. (5) I am never upset for the reason I think.
I am never upset for the reason I think because I am constantly trying to justify my thoughts. I am constantly trying to make them true. I make all things my enemies, so that my anger is justified and my attacks are warranted. I have not realized how much I have misused everything I see by assigning this role to it. I have done this to defend a thought system that has hurt me, and that I no longer want. I am willing to let it go.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Do Jesus or the Holy Spirit send me my lessons?
A) No, they do not. Here again, we see an example of students taking the words of A Course in Miracles literally, the result being that conclusions are drawn that are the exact opposite of what Jesus is actually teaching in his Course. To be sure, there are passages with words stating that the Holy Spirit (or Jesus) provide lessons for us, send people to us, or that we are sent to others. However, it is essential that students of A Course in Miracles, if they are to grow in their learning and practice of its principles, understand that statements such as these — clearly in the minority when taken against the whole of the Course’s teaching — are meant to reach those who are basically just beginning their spiritual journey with the Course. And so Jesus couches his teachings in words that his students — always referred to as children (or sometimes even younger) — can understand without fear.
Our experience is that we are very much a part of this physical world, just as we believe God is. There is, for example, this very important line in the text, which we have already quoted: “You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize” (T-18.Vlll.1:7). Therefore, as we discussed earlier in question 5, it would not be helpful nor practical for Jesus to impose a level of explanation beyond his students’ capacity to understand. As he states so clearly in the workbook: “For who can understand a language far beyond his simple grasp?” (W-pI.192.2:2). Thus, we can recognize again that Jesus uses language to serve as a bridge from the level of his students’ experience to his truth.
In fact, the Holy Spirit or Jesus do nothing in the world, because all correction and healing occur at the level of the mind. “There is no world!” as Jesus states emphatically in the workbook: “This is the central thought the course attempts to teach” (W-pI.132.6:2-3). Jesus’ presence exists only in our minds, since that is all there is. Ideas leave not their source, and so the dream has never left the mind of the dreamer, however compellingly real the world appears to be to us. This is similar to the experience everyone has when asleep at night and dreaming. While asleep, the dreamer actually believes that the activities occurring in the dream are quite real, and reacts accordingly with feelings of happiness, fear, joy, or anxiety, not to mention physical concomitants as well, such as tachycardia, excessive perspiration, etc. However, upon waking, the dreamer realizes that “it was only a dream.” Similar to what we discussed before in question 22, we understand that nothing has occurred other than within the mind of the dreamer, which contained the various images and symbols that seemed to be so real. As Jesus repeatedly points out in the Course, there is no difference whatsoever between our sleeping and waking experiences. They are both simply dreams occurring within the larger dream of separation. As he says in the text:
All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it. In your waking dreams, the special relationship has a special place. It is the means by which you try to make your sleeping dreams come true (T-18.11.5:12-17; italics ours).
And so it would make no sense for our wise inner teacher, Jesus, to fall into the same trap that the world does, of making the error real by seeing problems existing there, and therefore their solutions as well. However, as long as we believe that we are here, with problems and answers here, our experience will be that our help will be here, too. The loving presence of Jesus in our right minds — a mind which we have denied — will inevitably be experienced in the body and the world, even though he is not there. Participating in the process of forgiveness, students of A Course in Miracles gradually realize that they are the dreamers and not the dream, and that their existence is in the
mind and not the body. Eventually, the realization also occurs that Jesus or the Holy Spirit is only within their minds.
And what is Their function within the mind? To restate what we discussed previously, Their function is simply to remind the Son of God that he has made a faulty choice (by choosing the ego as his teacher), and now can make the correct one. His attention, via the miracle, has been restored to his mind, where the wrong decision was made and the presence of the Holy Spirit reminds him he can choose again. Early in the text, Jesus describes the functioning of the Holy Spirit this way:
The Voice of the Holy Spirit does not command, because It is incapable of arrogance. It does not demand, because It does not seek control. It does not overcome, because It does not attack. It merely reminds. It is compelling only because of what It reminds you of. It brings to your mind the other way, remaining quiet even in the midst of the turmoil you may make (T-5.II.7:1-6).
And so we — the decision maker in our minds — are the ones who write and choose our scripts, and the role of Jesus is to remind us that we can make another choice in how we look at what we have chosen. That looking with his love beside us is the core of the Course’s meaning of forgiveness. We are the ones who chose wrongly, and therefore we are the ones who must choose differently, as Jesus exhorts us at the end of the text:
Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again” (T-31.Vlll.3:1-2).
Again, we are the ones who present ourselves with our scripts, and it is our minds that choose whether to have our egos or Jesus be the teacher guiding us through these experiences.
Therefore, it is not the Holy Spirit that brings us parking spaces, sends certain people to be helped by us or for us to be helped by, or causes us to be raped as a forgiveness lesson, as one poor student of A Course in Miracles believed about a very painful experience in her own life. Such mistaken thoughts about the Holy Spirit, besides having potentially tragic implications, help students to avoid responsibility for their own choices by transferring them over to the Holy Spirit or Jesus. And then they justify such misperceptions by quoting — out of context! — passages from the Course to support their positions of specialness.
And so it is extremely important, to make this point still once again, for students of A Course in Miracles not to confuse the form of the Course’s teaching with its underlyingcontent. Otherwise growth will not occur, and they would forever remain at the lower levels of their journey up the spiritual ladder that the Course provides. Therefore, the purpose for students being told that the Holy Spirit does things for them in the world, is to be healed of the ego’s basic thought system that teaches that there is no Holy Spirit, and even if there were, He certainly would not be a friendly Presence which would comfort and guide them. Thus, it is not the words (the form) that are the true teaching of the Course, but their underlying meaning (the content). Jesus’ purpose in using this metaphoric language is to help his students undo the ego thoughts that a wrathful and avenging God will punish them for their sin.
Once the belief is corrected that God (or the Holy Spirit or Jesus) is our enemy, we are able to advance along to the next steps of our journey. These include the increasing recognition, as we approach the journey’s end, of the essentially abstract reality of the Holy Spirit’s and Jesus’ presence in our split minds. What is at issue here is the crucial point of proceeding slowly and patiently along the spiritual path, minimizing the inevitable fear of eventually letting go of one’s individual identity. As Jesus so gently comforts us, using the metaphor of dreams:
The Holy Spirit, ever practical in His wisdom, accepts your dreams and uses them as means for waking. You would have used them to remain asleep. I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams. That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship. He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you. But He does use it differently, as a help to make His purpose real to you. The special relationship will remain, not as a source of pain and guilt, but as a source of joy and freedom …. In your relationship the Holy Spirit has gently laid the real world; the world of happy dreams, from which awaking is so easy and so natural (T-18.11.6:1-7; 9:4).
Thus students are not asked to progress directly from the illusory nightmares special relationships to the reality of the one relationship with God, but with Jesus as their guide, they first pass through the illusory dreams of forgiveness. These happy dreams undo the ego interference, which then allows the Love of God to return to their awareness. Therefore, as students of A Course in Miracles, they first learn that God is a loving Father rather than a hateful one, and the Holy Spirit a comforting companion to them in the world rather than their enemy. Only then can they learn that there is in fact no world for Them to comfort us in. Metaphor has served its purpose, and now can give way to the simple truth of the Oneness in God that lies beyond all words, and which is the ultimate goal of A Course in Miracles.