ACIM Text Reading for February 1
Chapter 4 ~ The Illusions of the Ego
V. The Ego-Body Illusion
All things work together for good. There are no exceptions except in the ego’s judgement. The ego exerts maximal vigilance about what it permits into awareness, and this is not the way a balanced mind holds together. The ego is thrown further off balance because it keeps its primary motivation from your awareness, and raises control rather than sanity to predominance. The ego has every reason to do this, according to the thought system which gave rise to it and which it serves. Sane judgement would inevitably judge against the ego, and must be obliterated by the ego in the interest of its self-preservation.
A major source of the ego’s off-balanced state is its lack of discrimination between the body and the Thoughts of God. Thoughts of God are unacceptable to the ego, because they clearly point to the non-existence of the ego itself. The ego therefore either distorts them or refuses to accept them. It cannot, however, make them cease to be. It therefore tries to conceal not only ‘unacceptable’ body impulses, but also the Thoughts of God, because both are threatening to it. Being concerned primarily with its own preservation in the face of threat, the ego perceives them as the same. By perceiving them as the same, the ego attempts to save itself from being swept away, as it would surely be in the presence of knowledge.
Any thought system that confuses God and the body must be insane. Yet this confusion is essential to the ego, which judges only in terms of threat or non-threat to itself. In one sense the ego’s fear of God is at least logical, since the idea of Him does dispel the ego. But fear of the body, with which the ego identifies so closely, makes no sense at all.
The body is the ego’s home by its own election. It is the only identification with which the ego feels safe, since the body’s vulnerability is its own best argument that you cannot be of God. This is the belief that the ego sponsors eagerly. Yet the ego hates the body, because it cannot accept it as good enough to be its home. Here is where the mind becomes actually dazed. Being told by the ego that it is really part of the body and that the body is its protector, the mind is also told that the body cannot protect it. Therefore, the mind asks, ‘Where can I go for protection?’ to which the ego replies, ‘Turn to me’. The mind, and not without cause, reminds the ego that it has itself insisted that it is identified with the body, so there is no point in turning to it for protection. The ego has no real answer to this because there is none, but it does have a typical solution. It obliterates the question from the mind’s awareness. Once out of awareness the question can and does produce uneasiness, but it cannot be answered because it cannot be asked.
This is the question that must be asked: ‘Where can I go for protection?’ ‘Seek and ye shall find’ does not mean that you should seek blindly and desperately for something you would not recognise. Meaningful seeking is consciously undertaken, consciously organised and consciously directed. The goal must be formulated clearly and kept in mind. Learning and wanting to learn are inseparable. You learn best when you believe what you are trying to learn is of value to you. However, not everything you may want to learn has lasting value. Indeed, many of the things you want to learn may be chosen because their value will not last.
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. By becoming involved with tangential issues, it hopes to hide the real question and keep it out of mind. The ego’s characteristic busyness with nonessentials is for precisely that purpose. Preoccupations with problems set up to be incapable of solution are favourite ego devices for impeding learning progress. In all these diversionary tactics, however, the one question that is never asked by those who pursue them is, ‘What for?’ This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything. What is the purpose? Whatever it is, it will direct your efforts automatically. When you make a decision of purpose, then, you have made a decision about your future effort; a decision that will remain in effect unless you change your mind.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 1
I have invented the world I see.
1. Today we are continuing to develop the theme of cause and effect. You are not the victim of the world you see because you invented it. You can give it up as easily as you made it up. You will see it or not see it, as you wish. While you want it you will see it; when you no longer want it, it will not be there for you to see.
2. The idea for today, like the preceding ones, applies to your inner and outer worlds, which are actually the same. However, since you see them as different, the practice periods for today will again include two phases, one involving the world you see outside you, and the other the world you see in your mind. In today’s exercises, try to introduce the thought that both are in your own imagination.
3. Again we will begin the practice periods for the morning and evening by repeating the idea for today two or three times while looking around at the world you see as outside yourself. Then close your eyes and look around your inner world. Try to treat them both as equally as possible. Repeat the idea for today unhurriedly as often as you wish, as you watch the images your imagination presents to your awareness.
4. For the two longer practice periods three to five minutes are recommended, with not less than three required. More than five can be utilized, if you find the exercise restful. To facilitate this, select a time when few distractions are anticipated, and when you yourself feel reasonably ready.
5. These exercises are also to be continued during the day, as often as possible. The shorter applications consist of repeating the idea slowly, as you survey either your inner or outer world. It does not matter which you choose.
6. The idea for today should also be applied immediately to any situation that may distress you. Apply the idea by telling yourself:
I have invented this situation as I see it.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Which version of the Course should a student use for study? Is any one better than another?
The Foundation of Inner Peace’s view is that any version of the Course can bring about the mind-change and shift in perception that is the Course‘s goal. A student who is sincere in the desire to learn the inspired message of A Course in Miracles will do so with the help of their Inner Teacher, no matter which version of the Course they use. Do we believe that our Foundation edition is the form of A Course in Miracles that Jesus intended to go out into the world? Yes, we do, as did its two scribes, Helen and Bill. They fully approved the publication of the first edition. Bill studied and taught from it for the next twelve years, right up to his death in 1988.
Proponents of the other versions contend that the editing process eliminated valuable information and somehow degraded the Course‘s teaching. Some have actually counted up the number of words edited out of each edition, as if the word count were the most valid indicator of authenticity. But the question we ask every student to consider is this: After spending seven years faithfully scribing the Course according to the exacting instructions of Jesus, why would Helen and Bill suddenly decide to “reverse course,” defy His Voice and misrepresent Him in the final, fully edited edition? Doesn’t it make more sense that in the beginning Helen was anxious and new to the process and made some errors? Also, that she and Bill asked many questions about matters such as psychology and their own personal circumstances that were extensively answered, but were never intended to be part of the Course proper. This would explain why most of the significant changes from the earlier drafts are to be found in the first hundred or so pages of the Text. The majority the Text, along with the Workbook and Manual for Teachers remains practically identical across all versions.
All that said, we are well aware that the world of form is but illusion and that, as the Course itself says, “… words are but symbols of symbols.” (M-21.1:9) It is not the form that matters, but the content.
“[T]hose who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well.” (C-In.2:1-2)