ACIM Text Reading for March 20
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
VII. The Two Evaluations
God’s Will is your salvation. Would He not have given you the means to find it? If He wills you to have it, He must have made it possible and easy to obtain it. Your brothers are everywhere. You do not have to seek far for salvation. Every minute and every second gives you a chance to save yourself. Do not lose these chances, not because they will not return, but because delay of joy is needless. God wills you perfect happiness now. Is it possible that this is not also your will? And is it possible that this is not also the will of your brothers?
Consider, then, that in this joint will you are all united, and in this only. There may be disagreement on anything else, but not on this. This, then, is where peace abides. And you abide in peace when you so decide. Yet you cannot abide in peace unless you accept the Atonement, because the Atonement is the way to peace. The reason is very simple, and so obvious that it is often overlooked. The ego is afraid of the obvious, since obviousness is the essential characteristic of reality. Yet you cannot overlook it unless you are not looking.
It is perfectly obvious that if the Holy Spirit looks with love on all He perceives, He looks with love on you. His evaluation of you is based on His knowledge of what you are, and so He evaluates you truly. And this evaluation must be in your mind, because He is. The ego is also in your mind, because you have accepted it there. Its evaluation of you, however, is the exact opposite of the Holy Spirit’s, because the ego does not love you. It is unaware of what you are, and wholly mistrustful of everything it perceives because its perceptions are so shifting. The ego is therefore capable of suspiciousness at best and viciousness at worst. That is its range. It cannot exceed it because of its uncertainty. And it can never go beyond it because it can never be certain.
You, then, have two conflicting evaluations of yourself in your mind, and they cannot both be true. You do not yet realise how completely different these evaluations are, because you do not understand how lofty the Holy Spirit’s perception of you really is. He is not deceived by anything you do, because He never forgets what you are. The ego is deceived by everything you do, especially when you respond to the Holy Spirit, because at such times its confusion increases. The ego is, therefore, particularly likely to attack you when you react lovingly, because it has evaluated you as unloving and you are going against its judgement. The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased. Yet it is surely pointless to attack in return. What can this mean except that you are agreeing with the ego’s evaluation of what you are?
If you choose to see yourself as unloving you will not be happy. You are condemning yourself and must therefore regard yourself as inadequate. Would you look to the ego to help you escape from a sense of inadequacy it has produced, and must maintain for its existence? Can you escape from its evaluation of you by using its methods for keeping this picture intact?
You cannot evaluate an insane belief system from within it. Its range precludes this. You can only go beyond it, look back from a point where sanity exists and see the contrast. Only by this contrast can insanity be judged as insane. With the grandeur of God in you, you have chosen to be little and to lament your littleness. Within the system that dictated this choice the lament is inevitable. Your littleness is taken for granted there and you do not ask, ‘Who granted it?’ The question is meaningless within the ego’s thought system, because it would open the whole thought system to question.
I have said that the ego does not know what a real question is. Lack of knowledge of any kind is always associated with unwillingness to know, and this produces a total lack of knowledge simply because knowledge is total. Not to question your littleness therefore is to deny all knowledge, and keep the ego’s whole thought system intact. You cannot retain part of a thought system, because it can be questioned only at its foundation. And this must be questioned from beyond it, because within it its foundation does stand. The Holy Spirit judges against the reality of the ego’s thought system merely because He knows its foundation is not true. Therefore, nothing that arises from it means anything. He judges every belief you hold in terms of where it comes from. If it comes from God, He knows it to be true. If it does not, He knows that it is meaningless.
Whenever you question your value, say:
Remember this when the ego speaks, and you will not hear it. The truth about you is so lofty that nothing unworthy of God is worthy of you. Choose, then, what you want in these terms, and accept nothing that you would not offer to God as wholly fitting for Him. You do not want anything else. Return your part to Him, and He will give you all of Himself in exchange for the return of what belongs to Him and renders Him complete.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 20
Let miracles replace all grievances.
1. Perhaps it is not yet quite clear to you that each decision that you make is one between a grievance and a miracle. Each grievance stands like a dark shield of hate before the miracle it would conceal. And as you raise it up before your eyes, you will not see the miracle beyond. Yet all the while it waits for you in light, but you behold your grievances instead.
2. Today we go beyond the grievances, to look upon the miracle instead. We will reverse the way you see by not allowing sight to stop before it sees. We will not wait before the shield of hate, but lay it down and gently lift our eyes in silence to behold the Son of God.
3. He waits for you behind your grievances, and as you lay them down he will appear in shining light where each one stood before. For every grievance is a block to sight, and as it lifts you see the Son of God where he has always been. He stands in light, but you were in the dark. Each grievance made the darkness deeper, and you could not see.
4. Today we will attempt to see God’s Son. We will not let ourselves be blind to him; we will not look upon our grievances. So is the seeing of the world reversed, as we look out toward truth, away from fear. We will select one person you have used as target for your grievances, and lay the grievances aside and look at him. Someone, perhaps, you fear and even hate; someone you think you love who angered you; someone you call a friend, but whom you see as difficult at times or hard to please, demanding, irritating or untrue to the ideal he should accept as his, according to the role you set for him.
5. You know the one to choose; his name has crossed your mind already. He will be the one of whom we ask God’s Son be shown to you. Through seeing him behind the grievances that you have held against him, you will learn that what lay hidden while you saw him not is there in everyone, and can be seen. He who was enemy is more than friend when he is freed to take the holy role the Holy Spirit has assigned to him. Let him be savior unto you today. Such is his role in God your Father’s plan.
6. Our longer practice periods today will see him in this role. You will attempt to hold him in your mind, first as you now consider him. You will review his faults, the difficulties you have had with him, the pain he caused you, his neglect, and all the little and the larger hurts he gave. You will regard his body with its flaws and better points as well, and you will think of his mistakes and even of his “sins.”
7. Then let us ask of Him Who knows this Son of God in his reality and truth, that we may look on him a different way, and see our savior shining in the light of true forgiveness, given unto us. We ask Him in the holy Name of God and of His Son, as holy as Himself:
Let me behold my savior in this one You have appointed as the one for me to ask to lead me to the holy light in which he stands, that I may join with him.
The body’s eyes are closed, and as you think of him who grieved you, let your mind be shown the light in him beyond your grievances.
8. What you have asked for cannot be denied. Your savior has been waiting long for this. He would be free, and make his freedom yours. The Holy Spirit leans from him to you, seeing no separation in God’s Son. And what you see through Him will free you both. Be very quiet now, and look upon your shining savior. No dark grievances obscure the sight of him. You have allowed the Holy Spirit to express through him the role God gave Him that you might be saved.
9. God thanks you for these quiet times today in which you laid your images aside, and looked upon the miracle of love the Holy Spirit showed you in their place. The world and Heaven join in thanking you, for not one Thought of God but must rejoice as you are saved, and all the world with you.
10. We will remember this throughout the day, and take the role assigned to us as part of God’s salvation plan, and not our own. Temptation falls away when we allow each one we meet to save us, and refuse to hide his light behind our grievances. To everyone you meet, and to the ones you think of or remember from the past, allow the role of savior to be given, that you may share it with him. For you both, and all the sightless ones as well, we pray:
Let miracles replace all grievances.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Does being defenseless mean I should let someone kill or rape me, or stand by while violence is committed against loved ones or others?
A) We begin by stating that defenselessness is a thought of the right mind, an attitude based upon the Holy Spirit’s thought system that the Son of God is innocent and sinless, and therefore invulnerable. If there is no sin there can be no guilt. And without guilt there can be no projection, which means there can be no fear of being attacked. Guilt, as the Course teaches, demands punishment: if no guilt exists, fear of punishment is also non-existent. Finally, without fear of Punishment from without, there is no need for defenses within, and so the true state of defenselessness is the thought of innocence and invulnerability.
This does not then mean that a right-minded person’s behavior is necessarily what the world thinks of as defenseless. The meaning of spiritual defenselessness is often distorted, so that people think they must be totally passive, like doormats, to be defenseless. To let others do violence to oneself, a loved one, or anyone else, very often is allowing those persons to act in a manner that would not only be harmful to their “victims,” but to themselves as well by reinforcing their own guilt over their separation from God and from the rest of the Sonship. Acting behaviorally to “protect” oneself can actually then be following the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the mind to be loving. It is not the form of the behavior that reflects defenselessness, but the content of the mind’s thought.
Both our professional experiences offered examples of this principle. My (Kenneth’s) first employment as a psychologist was working with disturbed children in a special school. These were children ranging from ages five to thirteen, many of whom had severe behavioral problems which often manifested in their acting violently towards themselves and others. I devised a way that I could control their behavior by getting them to the floor, wrapping my legs and arms around them in such manner that they were not hurt, but were unable to kick, punch, bite, scratch, or harm anyone. Thus by preventing their attempts at behavioral violence, I was able eventually to calm them down. My behavior could have looked to an observer as defensive, although obviously its purpose was only to help.
During my tenure as teacher and dean in a New York City high school, I (Gloria) many times had to have teens suspended from school or arrested for various kinds of violent behavior and use of weapons. My intervention, too, could have been interpreted by an observer as defensive. Yet, checking out my responses as best I could with Jesus as to how I should proceed, resulted in — paraphrasing from the text — setting a limit on the teenagers’ ability to miscreate (T-2.III.3:3). Thus they were prevented from acting out more murderous thoughts which would have resulted in a greater reinforcement of their guilt. I always felt it was my responsibility as dean, which was a dream role I scripted, to get myself out of the way to the best of my ability so that I could access the correction script of the Holy Spirit in these difficult circumstances. I had the little willingness A Course in Miraclesspeaks about, but I sometimes wondered in my early days with the Course, why I scripted such seemingly difficult situations!
For us to have acted otherwise — i.e., to have been behaviorally passive or “defenseless” in the face of such aggressive actions — would have been as unloving as it would be to let a rapist brutally assault your wife or daughter while you are standing by mouthing Course “platitudes” about not being a body, how love does not defend itself, etc. As with everything related to the teachings of A Course in Miracles, it is the content or purpose that supplies the meaning to our actions, and the only true meaning comes from Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our minds. Their love is abstract and non-specific, and always the same. Yet this love is expressed through the specific expressions of our individuality, and therefore differs from one person to the next. Thus, only one with the wisdom of Jesus would be in a position to justly and fairly evaluate another’s actions. For anyone else it would be foolhardy and arrogant to make such judgments. As he instructs us in the manual for teachers:
In order to judge anything rightly, one would have to be fully aware of an inconceivably wide range of things; past, present and to come…. And one would have to be certain there is no distortion in his perception, so that his judgment would be wholly fair to everyone on whom it rests now and in the future. Who is in a position to do this? Who except in grandiose fantasies would claim this for himself… Make then but one more judgment. It is this: There is Someone with you Whose judgment is perfect (M-10.3:3,5-7; 4:6-7).
And so the bottom line is always to ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help before we respond to a difficult situation, as well as to ask Their help before attempting to judge another’s response in a difficult situation.