A Yogi’s Introduction to A Course in Miracles

INTRODUCING A COURSE IN MIRACLES

 

“This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.”

This Course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.

Herein lies the peace of God.”

Peace of God 

Here is a beautiful “prayer” from the Course that I would like to share with you here at the outset, especially as it highlights my role as both a teacher AND student – and your roles as students AND teachers…

I am here only to be truly helpful. 

I am here to represent Him who sent me.

 I do not have to worry about what to say or what to do,

Because He Who sent me will direct me.

 I am content to be wherever he Wishes,

Knowing He goes there with me.

 I will be healed as I let him teach me to heal.

i-am-here-only-meditation-6  

*

“Every good teacher hopes to give his students so much of his own learning that they will no longer need him. 

This is the one true goal of the teacher.” (T 4.I. 5:1-2)

 

The intention behind this presentation is to provide a contemporary, up-to-date introduction to the phenomenon that is A Course in Miracles (aka “ACIM” and/or “the Course”), one that brings together the most helpful information about the Course from the Web and other resources.  This is primarily intended for those who are new to ACIM, but it could also very well prove helpful to those who are already somewhat familiar with it or even “seasoned.”  Keeping with the Course’s own emphasis on simplicity, every attempt will be made to keep this as simple and clear as possible, as well as fair and balanced.   Because of this, feedback on this presentation is most certainly welcome.

 

So let’s begin…

 

FINDING ANOTHER WAY, A BETTER WAY

“Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit.

Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way.

As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point.

This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight.

The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute.

But the outcome is as certain as God.”

(2.III.3.5-10)

 

The writing of the Course actually began with the decision of two people (Helen Schucman and William Thetford, research psychologists at Columbia University from the ‘50s onward) to find “another way” to communicate and be with each other harmoniously as opposed to their usual antagonistic encounters.  Perhaps you are now coming to the Course because you, too, are seeking “another way” in your life.  Well, you should know that although the Course was ostensibly a way to help Helen and Bill to find peace in their relationship with each other, it is really meant for all of us, as the Course teaches that at essence we all have a shared interest in peace, love and understanding, and in finding our true self (Self).   To help to understand this point, here are some of the issues that might have led you to this point, see if one or more of these applies to your life:

 

~ A failed or troubled relationship, whether with a spouse or significant other, parent, sibling, or friend.

 

~ Achievement of worldly success, only to find that you are still not happy.

 

~ Or conversely, failure to achieve success in life, leaving you feeling hopeless.

 

~ A sense that there must be more to life than this.

 

~ Fear about dying, or anxiety/panic about the future, for you or someone close to you.

 

~ A sense of deep regret and/or guilt about your past actions.

 

~ Confusion about spirituality and religion and how to know what the truth is regarding them.

 

~ A falling out with your birth religion, or religion in general.

 

~ A deep sense of loneliness and despair.

 

~ An unshakeable feeling that you are a fraud, a phony and/or that you really don’t like yourself, or worse.

 

~  Putting your trust in someone or something, only to be betrayed.

 

~ A perfectionism that leaves you paralyzed.

 

~ Recognizing that nothing is bringing you the happiness (love, peace, etc.) you truly seek.

 

~ A spiritual experience that left you with questions as to its meaning, one that you cannot seem to find in the world of traditional religion.

And so on…

 

Now, if any of these applied to you, then the Course might just be for you.   And in fact, the Course really is for every body, and isn’t it the case that everybody experiences one or more of those things that were just listed?    The thing is that not everybody is ready yet for the Course because it either might not be the right spiritual path for them, or they might not be at the point where they are ready to seek its guidance.

 

This could be summed up in a very simple statement:

 

“The Course is for everybody,

but not everybody is for the Course.”

 

(Or: The Course is for everyone who thinks they’re a body – more on this soon…)

 

The Course itself says:

 

‘Many are called but few are chosen’ should be,

‘All are called but few choose to listen.'”

 

I sense that your being here right now means that you have in some sense heard the “call” and are in a place to really listen to and consider what the Course says and has to offer you.  Given this, let’s get waste no time to get into the thick of it…

 

GO TO THE SOURCE

 

First off, as the Course itself advises us in various ways, it’s generally a good idea to “consider the source” and start with the original source material (though on a deeper level, “consider the source” would mean the Source, aka God), and for that you might want to purchase the following comprehensive edition of the Course put out by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles, click HERE .  To the best of my knowledge, this is the most complete edition of the Course available, and it’s also the “standard” edition in the sense that most people citing chapter and verse are referring to this edition.

 

The entire Course can also be read for free online HERE .

 

For a summary background on how the Course came to be written and what it says, I recommend starting with the following:

 

Introduction to A Course in Miracles by ACIM.org

 

“A Course in Miracles is a complete self-study spiritual thought system. As a three-volume curriculum consisting of a Text, Workbook for Students, and Manual for Teachers, it teaches that the way to universal love and peace—or remembering God—is by undoing guilt through forgiving others. The Course thus focuses on the healing of relationships and making them holy. A Course in Miracles also emphasizes that it is but one version of the universal curriculum, of which there are “many thousands.” Consequently, even though the language of the Course is that of traditional Christianity, it expresses a non-sectarian, non-denominational spirituality. A Course in Miracles therefore is a universal spiritual teaching, not a religion.”

 

The Introduction to the Course by Jesus and Helen Schucman (“How It Came,” “What It Is,” and “What It Says” – found in the Foundation’s printed edition of the Course).

 

After you read these, I would also highly recommend watching at least the first part of the following film (free on Youtube) that goes into more detail about how the Course came into existence: The Story of A Course in Miracles . It’s a very beautiful film and had my eyes welling up the first time I watched it.

 

SECONDARY SOURCES – BOOKS ABOUT THE COURSE

 

Ironically, most people don’t get into the Course by actually reading it first, however, because it is initially so challenging to understand; rather, people generally get into it through secondary sources such as books that have been written about the Course.   The potential pitfall and caution with secondary sources is that they are only as good as the author themselves understand the Course (every “translation” is an interpretation).   So with that cautionary word to the wise, here are a few of the most popular of these books about ACIM, and please keep in mind there are many other very helpful ones, these are just a few of the bestsellers:

 

Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky

 

A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson

 

The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary Renard

 

A Course in Miracles Made Easy, Alan Cohen

 

Of these, it appears that Gary Renard’s book has been the most helpful in serving as a kind of “primer” or preparation for the Course.  Not only has the “D.U.” (as it’s been called) brought many new students to the Course, but it has also brought back many “lapsed” Course students and/or those who had difficulty understanding its message.  So of the 3 books above, I am recommending that you read Renard’s book to help get started with ACIM, yet with the following caveat …

 

There has been one big issue with Renard’s book, and it is this: While it purports to be a dialogue between the author and two ascended masters (Arten and Pursah) who teach him all about the Course in a series of meetings over the course of a decade, some have cast doubt upon this claim.   Renard’s detractors, some of whom are also long-time students of the Course and Renard’s peers, argue that D.U. draws heavily upon the teachings of Ken Wapnick, the first teacher of the Course and one of its earliest editors.

 

Without saying more about this controversy here, I would just like to acknowledge that if it weren’t for Renard’s book, many people, myself included, might never have gotten interested in the Course.  So whether Renard’s book is based on a true story or not, it definitely served its purpose for me, and many others as well.   This is why I do recommend it for those who would like to get a kind of overview of the Course before they actually dive into the Course itself.

 

 KEN WAPNICK AS A PORTAL

 

That said, let’s entertain for a moment the possibility that Renard did draw primarily on the work on Ken Wapnick, in a sense popularizing Wapnick for the masses.  Then it would be a question of: 1) Did Renard accurately represent Wapnick’s work; and 2) Is Wapnick’s own work true to the Course?  These are very important questions to answer for oneself because it is VERY helpful, perhaps even essential, to have a guide for the Course, a kind of interpreter who can put the Course’s sometimes challenging language and concepts into layperson’s terms.  After all, not a few people have put the Course down due to its seeming incomprehensibility.

 

Once again, I answer a definitive “Yes” to these questions.  Yes, Renard’s book does fairly accurately represent Wapnick’s work (again, assuming for a moment that he was borrowing from it), and yes, Wapnick  (who just passed in 2013) did have a very trustworthy understanding of ACIM, perhaps better than anyone has ever had.   And well he should have, because after all, Wapnick was both the first teacher of the Course and also the original editor of it who worked closely with Helen and Bill from 1972 onward.  He even was present with Helen for some of the scribing of the Course, when she was receiving dictation from Jesus.  Apparently he even helped to explain some difficult passages to Helen herself(!) Wapnick oversaw the Course’s translation into many languages, etc.

 

Yes, one might ask, but perhaps Wapnick still misunderstood the Course, and what other evidence do I have to support my claim?  How do I know that Wapnick is/was a very trustworthy interpreter of the Course, especially when not everyone (such as “The Circle of Atonement” group – more on them later) agrees?  Yes, believe it or not, there have been those who sometimes radically disagree with Wapnick’s interpretation of the Course, which is one reason why I feel it important to bring all of this up here.  Because as a new Course student, you will no doubt be exposed to many opinions about the Course, and depending on who you read first, you might be led to greater confusion about what the Course says than not.

 

My answer to all of this is that after reading the Course myself, I feel that Ken Wapnick had the most comprehensive and clear understanding of the Course’s essential message than anyone I have seen.  And I do believe that he did his very best to be a true messenger for the radical message of the Course, without letting his ego unduly influence that message (to my mind, he did not unduly “mess” with nor massage the message!).  Others apparently see it differently, and that is really all good, I just feel the need to weigh in with my own two cents and six sense here.

 

And in any case, I feel that it is important to, at the very least, start with Wapnick as a guide, or read Renard’s book as a primer for both Wapnick and the Course. Starting with D.U. is not a bad idea as Wapnick is a little less accessible than Renard, whose book could be seen, again, as an attempt to present ACIM to the layperson.  (Note: Two other really useful books are D. Patrick Miller’s Understanding A Course in Miracles and Living with Miracles.)

 

So with all of that said, I definitely highly recommend you explore Wapnick’s work, starting with the very valuable information found on the Foundation for a Course in Miracles website (facim.org, and its sister website, acim.org), and Wapnick’s numerous Youtube videos, plus his books, CDs, etc.   I think that anyone with an eye to see will understand that Wapnick was a master of the material and saw himself as simply there to assist us all in better understanding what is often a challenging message to grasp (let alone practice!). [Also, highly recommended is Wapnick’s biography of Helen Schucman, Absence of Felicity, which goes into great detail about how the Course came to be written.]

 

     And YET, all other agendas aside, I do believe and strongly feel that the Holy Spirit will guide you to just the right way to get into the Course, including the books you read, websites, etc. Perhaps it was by leading you to this book…?

 

 CONTENT OVER FORM

 

Content Over Form” is a central theme of the Course and one that Ken Wapnick often highlighted.  To help make this more understandable for us, I will use Ken himself as an example, and please do note the tongue-in-cheek nature of this!

 

So when you look at Ken and hear him talk (in the many videos on Youtube, or elsewhere), at least at first look he might give the impression of a skinny, nebishy guy with a thick Long Island accent and a kind of harsh quality to his voice that makes him sound maybe a bit too snobby at times, not to mention he had a speech impediment that made him stutter.

 

But when you go beyond that superficial appearance (that is, the “Form”), you begin to see both the depth of his understanding, and his commitment to the message of the Course and helping others to understand it (that is, the “Content”).   So, too, the Course asks us to look beyond appearances to see the underlying sameness of all people, that at heart we are all just seeking but one thing, and we can call that thing Love, which is a word that it seems we can all agree upon!  And we get to Love through the practice of forgiveness.  So let’s talk about this core Course message, which beyond all of the verbiage is very simple: It’s all about love and forgiveness; or, the practice of forgiveness as a way to return to Love, our true nature.

 

[Note: For a really nice Ken Wapnick tribute video, please see Jon Mundy’s Youtube video, click HERE.  I highly recommend this video for helping to understand Ken better, as well as for an introduction to Jon Mundy himself.  Mundy is also one of the great teachers of the Course, and I also highly recommend his own introduction to the Course, which starts HERE.   And for more about Ken Wapnick: http://www.miraclestudies.net/KenWapnick.html ]

 

 SIMPLE, BUT NOT EASY

 

Okay, so thus far I’ve thrown a lot of words at you and you might be wondering why it took this long to get to this simple message of love and forgiveness?  Well, look at the Course itself!  It’s over 1200 pages of material with half a million words, most of it quite intimidating to the new reader (again, think in terms of Form & Content here).  Everyone asks at some point or another this question: If it really is all just about love and forgiveness, why so many darn words, and why did it have to be written in such a convoluted, Christian/biblical, and male-chauvinistic way?  The Course says it’s simple, but so why not just say: “Love thy neighbor as thyself… because at essence they are Thy Self!” and be done with it?  Isn’t that the bottom line of all of this?

 

The simple answer to this question is that the Course is so seemingly long and complicated because we ourselves are so complicated with so many “complexes”!  We’re not ready for the simple truth, because it’s TOO simple.  We feel, for one thing, that the spiritual quest somehow requires some great sacrifice and achievement to be won.  And we’re not ready to let go of all of our conditioned beliefs and attitudes (our “story”) that quickly, we really have to warm to that idea.   As the saying goes:

 

The truth is simple, but it ain’t easy!

 

But when it comes down to it, it is as simple as seeing everyone and everything as yourself, with the recognition that as you treat anything that seems to be outside of you is how you treat yourself, and vice versa.  So when we judge, blame or condemn others, it is only because we have already done that to ourselves.  And when we see others as who they truly are, which is totally blameless, without any sin or needing any judgment or condemnation, then we also simultaneously remember who we truly are, which is totally innocent.   And this is all as simple as a change of mind, just a little shift of perception! But to do this requires that we first truly take the Course seriously, and so that’s the next idea/theme we will turn to…

Holy Encounter copy

 

When you meet anyone,

Remember it is a holy encounter.

As you see him you will see yourself.

As you treat him you will treat yourself.

As you think of him you will think of yourself.

Never forget this, for in him you find yourself or lose yourself.

 

 

SEEING IT THROUGH

 

“Think this through with me

Let me know your mind

Oh Oh what I want to know is…

Are you kind?”

~ Robert Hunter/The Grateful Dead

 

First, let me say that this is not just about taking the Course seriously, but about taking any true spiritual path seriously in the sense of following it all the way through to the end.  Who does that, right?  Do you?  No, we all seem to take little bits and pieces from here and there and cobble together a spirituality that works for us.  While there’s nothing wrong with that in theory, it doesn’t generally work over the long haul because almost inevitably the ego gets in the way.   As the Course says in so many words (so many! — and I paraphrase), we end up bringing the Truth to the illusion, rather than our illusions to the Truth.  In other words, we end up making our illusory self and world real, making spirituality just another thing we do to feel better about ourself (small “self”) and our life in the world (making a “happy dream” as the Course puts it), and find it hard to go beyond that.  And if anyone (like the Course) suggests we do consider the flimsiness of the world and our own self-concept, we heavily, and sometimes very heavily, resist it.

 

[Resistance, by the way, is a Freudian psychoanalytic concept that the Course uses (reinterprets) to explain how the ego attempts to distract us from the process of awakening to who we truly are.   It’s very helpful to think about how resistance might be at work in our approach to the Course and what we find problematic in it.]

 

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

  ~ Alice in Wonderland

 

So the point I want to make here is this:  If you really want to understand the Course, please give it your full attention and read it on its own terms as best as you can.  Here’s my suggestion (and do keep in mind that we all have our own pace to get to the peace, so this is a very general statement!): Go through the Text, the Workbook, and the Manual sequentially for a full year, doing just a section and a lesson a day.  It will make a world of difference in helping to understand the Course.  Believe me, if you have trouble with the language, such as the King Jamesian-ness of it all, or all the masculine pronouns, or even the term God or Holy Spirit, by the end of a year all of that will (in theory, at least!) drop away because you will have understood the underlying CONTENT (that is, intention, message) and overlooked the FORM.  And that’s exactly what the Course is asking us to do about everything!  Go beyond the appearance to the underlying essence, and then you shall truly see!

 

 

       Jesus is asking us to accept his terms and meet his conditions, but there is no punishment involved here at all.  We will only be delaying our own homecoming if we don’t follow the deepest urging of spirit.  Jesus is therefore only a symbol for that deepest urging within all of us.

         

GOD IS IN THE DETAILS…OR IS IT THE DEVIL?

 

One other little point I would like to make here is that even though the Course does basically say the same damn thing over and over and over again throughout its 1200+ pages (Jesus is Johnny One Note), it’s not that there aren’t a lot of nuances and subtleties that we are asked to take note of.  The Course has been likened to a symphony in which a certain theme or motif is introduced, then dropped, only to return again later to be further expanded with variations.  Numerous examples of this could be noted, but just dig in and read it and you’ll see how that works.  I will just add that this is why a close reading of the Course will make a difference in your understanding and practice, simply because of those nuances and new perspectives on the same one thing.  This very well reflects the saying that “God is in the details.”

 

And yet there is also the converse idea that “the devil is in the details,” and you will also recall Shakespeare’s famous quote that even the devil can quote scripture.   This is a caution to not get so caught up in the details that you miss the forest for the trees and get bogged down in sectarian theological disputes, something that the Course itself cautions again in several places.

 

“A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary.

 

It is this experience toward which the course is directed”

                                                              (C.in.2:5,6)

 

 

On that note, there is a great story that shows the humor and wisdom of Helen Schucman’s co-scribe and colleague, Bill Thetford…

 

One day two Course students were heatedly arguing about the meaning of a passage in the Course.  Bill came in and they asked him which one of them was right?  Without missing a beat, Bill said to them: “Oh, just tear that page out.

 

Do you get it?  There are actually a number of places in the Course where Jesus says that it’s not about the Course – “the notes are nothing,” he says, and “forget this Course”  — cautioning us not to get too caught up in the words (again, the FORM), but do understand the spirit of it all (the CONTENT) which is to get in touch with the perfect love that resides in your heart.  Like a musician, learn your notes and scales by going through the Course carefully, but once you’ve done that, do not be afraid to tap into your own intuitive, improvisational brilliance, ever guided by Spirit, of course.  All rules are ultimately mean to be broken, after all.

 

THE LITTLE PROBLEM OF FAITH

 

Okay, so we’ve gotten a little ahead of ourselves here and we might want to go back to one of the most fundamental problems with understanding the Course, and again it does have to do with resistance, but it also is a simple matter of faith, as well as reason.  And the essential question is:  WHY should we take the Course seriously?   I mean, what proof do we have that this is all really the “Word” of Jesus?  Maybe Helen made it all up?  Maybe she did channel the words, but they were given to her by a discarnate entity that had some secret agenda of its own to delude humanity? (I heard this argument from a seasoned yogi whose opinion I respect.)  Or maybe Satan himself is once again orchestrated all of this in his mass plan to lead us like lambs to the slaughter?  Or how about this one: It’s all a CIA-hatched plot to control the minds of the many – A Course in Miracles as the opiate of the masses! (See further on for my take on this.)

 

Obviously you must know my answer to these questions, because otherwise I wouldn’t be here enthusiastically introducing the Course if I had such grave doubts about it (and you wouldn’t be here to keenly listen if you weren’t at least a little open to all of this).  But the truth is that, yes, even I have some lingering doubts about all of this because of one simple fact: I just don’t know, and how could I?  How can anybody?  And this is a key point that the Course makes: Only the ego asks questions and doubts, and so to the extent that we are still identified with the ego (and nearly everyone here is), we will be confused about all of this.  But the Course does not ask for or require perfect certainty, only, as it says, a “little willingness” to look at the contents of our mind in the light of perfect love and forgiveness.   So perfect faith is not required, nor even better-than-average faith!

 

Another way of saying this is: Have you experienced the miracle of unconditional love in your life?  Well, if yes, then it doesn’t matter where the Course came from, because its purpose is to help us to return that perfect, unconditional love that we have already experienced, if only fleetingly.

 

That said, I will still, briefly, attempt to answer some of those initial concerns that I mentioned…

 

So firstly, how do we know the Course really expresses the thoughts of Jesus?  Well, we don’t know, but many who have engaged with it, including myself, feel that it is the most loving, beautiful, wise and true expression of spirituality they have ever encountered.  So if Jesus is perfect love (and as the Course says, he does symbolize that) then we can say that yes, these are the words of Jesus.  And interestingly, the Course does not insist that you use the term “Jesus,” because all those who have attained the state of perfect love are ONE, and so call IT by any name you choose, because a rose is a rose is a rose.   Love by any other name is still Love.

 

Ok! So I realize that answer will not be satisfying for a lot of people; namely, the response that it doesn’t matter Who dictated the Course to Helen, because it’s freakin’ brilliant and it seems to be helping a lot of people, so who cares?  Well, YOU might care.  And don’t look at me, but I still care about this question.

 

Remember I mentioned that someone close to me, a veteran yogi whose opinion I respect, gave me a very forceful argument of why the Course is potentially dangerous if its source is a discarnate spirit seeking to delude humanity (or at the very least ACIM students!)?   While I did and do take this kind of issue with the Course very seriously, I also would posit that this is the very kind of controversial issue that the Course is wanting to tell us we will never truly be able to answer.  And thus it becomes a “delaying maneuver” on the part of the ego to keep us from actually practicing its teachings on forgiveness and watching the ego be “undone.”  (Oh yes, by the way, I forgot to mention that the Course’s practice of forgiveness does this: It undoes the ego, it dissolves it.  It’s actually a gradual, gentle process for most of us that requires quite a bit of patience and forgiveness… mainly for our own lack of patience and forgiveness!)

 

And yes, I realize that this, too, might not be the convincing argument to do the Course.  It seems to smack a little bit of cultish reasoning: Don’t ask questions because they can’t be answered, just do what we tell you to do and no one gets hurt!  Some people have actually called the Course a form of brainwashing, yet you can see from the very introduction that is says that while this is a required Course (namely, the return to Spirit will happen for all of us at some point), the time you take it is voluntary.  Not too many cults with brainwashing agendas will say that!  And the Course points out that any attempt at coercion of any kind will not work, that all spiritual work must be voluntary to really bear fruit.  So in other words: No one’s telling you to do anything, you’re here in this now moment considering all of this because you are truly seeking “another/better way” and are open to hearing how the Course might be of help to you. Verdad?

 

So at this point, let me talk about my own experience a bit more, because I feel it might help…

 

MY YOKE/YOGA IS EASY

 

“When you are tempted by the wrong voice, call on me to remind you how to heal by sharing my decision and making it stronger. As we share this goal, we increase its power to attract the whole Sonship, and to bring it back into the oneness in which it was created. Remember that ‘yoke’ means ‘join together’ and ‘burden’ means ‘message’. Let us restate ‘My yoke is easy and my burden light’ in this way; ‘Let us join together, for my message is light.” (ACIM T:5:II:11)

 

Wait, this section is perhaps better titled: “OF COURSE!” Which is also the name of this whole presentation. Because all of that heady stuff aside, what the Course did for me (and many of us, it seems) was appeal to the truth that I have always known. It was like what happened when I discovered yoga (or/and it discovered me), my thought was: “EUREKA! This is what I’ve been looking for all these years, it really exists!”

 

“This world you seem to live in is not home to you.

And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true.”

 

And in fact, my current understanding is that we’re all doing the Course, we just don’t know it yet, and we might even consciously resist it. So it doesn’t matter who its author was, whether Jesus or not, whoever it was is/was freaking brilliant.

 

I had this experience when I was 19 years old that I consider perhaps the most important one of my whole life: One night laying in bed I felt an energy surge up my body up to my heart, and suddenly, I was in bliss. The next morning, it (the bliss) was still there. Like many teens, I had had a very hard time coming of age and was dealing with a very heavy load of guilt, anger, and self-judgment to the point of extreme self-loathing. And in one night, with one fell stroke, it was all gone! Imagine that! And please note that it didn’t require accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior to happen! This exprience lasted for months, long enough to really make me realize that yes, it was really happening, and that THIS, not my old neurotic self, was my true nature, this state of unconditional love, joy, peace. And then it was gone, and thus began my search to bring it back… and so it is for so many spiritual seekers, yes? You, too?

 

And so I looked everywhere for the Beloved, and finally found “Her” again… in the yoga tradition. (Mind you, this is making a very long story very short!) And then I got into plant medicine, particularly ayahuasca, which ultimately led me to the Course, because there were things that were being revealed to me by the plants that were truly shocking… you know, little things like ego-death and tours of various hellish realms, strange meetings with demons of varying shapes and surprises. And the Course helped me make sense of those experiences, to see them in a more universal, less personal way. For example, with its help, I could begin to finally accept that there’s really nothing special about me, neither the abject misery that I’ve experienced, nor the transcendent bliss, neither the agony nor the ecstasy, the self-loathing or the delusions of grandeur. All of that is part of the one mind that we all share, it’s nothing personal, really. I am not, as I formerly thought (when I was clinging to my “specialness”) the “only lonely one” out there… no, there are, in the words of that old Police song, “a hundred million [other] castaways looking for a home.” Or 7+ billion, but who’s counting?

 

In other words, we’re all in the same boat; or, as the Course would put it: We’re all equal and integral parts of the one “Sonship.”

 

And here’s another thing to note here, and this also goes back to the “Of Course!” theme I’ve been playing on: The Golden Rule. Why is the Golden Rule what it is? Why should we, as the Hebrew Bible (Torah) commands, love our neighbor as ourselves? Deep down, we all know why, right? It’s because at our core essence we are part of the same One Self. And so to even think for a moment otherwise is to deny the truth of what we are. So imagine what it would feel to walk this earth and literally not have a second thought other than pure appreciation, compassion and forgiveness for everybody and everything? Imagine that? Well, that’s the “mind training” that the Course is leading us to, and though it might never be “perfect,” it will be far sight/cry better than what we’ve got going on right now!

 

 

THE COURSE AS A “Christian Vedanta”

 

Bill Thetford was Helen Schucman’s partner in crime in all of this, and far from being just Helen’s scribal helper, Bill also had a deep understanding of the message of the Course.  At one point, Bill referred to the Course as a “Christian Vedanta,” and this is something that has since been repeated often enough for me to bother repeating it here.

 

Bill was pretty accurate in his assessment, though what he says does require some clarification.

 

Let’s take the “Christian” part first: The Course is not actually Christian in the sense of following Church orthodoxy and dogma, but rather it is Christian in that it is Christ-centered.  In fact, in the Course Jesus says that as he foretold, his disciples did not fully understand what he was saying 2000 years ago, so the Course is a way of correcting the errors of Christianity by revealing the deeper, inner meaning of the gospel accounts.

 

Did you know there is actually a gospel that was never included in the New Testament canon, but which some scholars believe actually predated Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John?  It’s called the Gospel of Thomas and it really just a collection of sayings of Jesus without any storyline except for brief contextual clues.  The reason some scholars believe that the Gospel of Thomas (GOT) is older than the canonical gospels is because the gospel writers used sayings from the GOT in their accounts and pick up those little contextual clues in the GOT and create a story around them.

 

Now, if this is true, it’s quite ground-breaking to say the least – “earth-shattering” might be a better descriptive.  Because what Jesus says in the GOT is considerably more mystical than what we find in the canonical gospels.  Consider the following saying from the GOT:

 

“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so the male will not be male and the female will not be female…then you will enter the Kingdom.”

And also this one:

   The disciples said to him, “When will the Kingdom come?” He said, “It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, ‘Behold here,’ or ‘Behold there.’ Rather, the Kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and people do not see it.”

[Click HERE for the translation of the Gospel of Thomas that I would recommend.]

What I am getting at by bringing in the Gospel of Thomas and these passages is that Jesus appeared to have been teaching about “oneness,” or “non-duality,” something that is not so clearly evident in the canonical gospel accounts. These are the teachings that, in reality, there is only One reality, and we can call it God, or Source, or Spirit, or Love, or IT, or you name it, but it’s something pointing beyond the world of opposites and multiplicity that we currently seem to inhabit.  Now the word “non-duality” is an exact translation of the Sanskrit word “advaita” (literally “not two”), and this word generally goes hand-in-hand with another Sanskrit word: Vedanta.  Vedanta is actually one of 6 philosophical systems found in the Hindu tradition, and it essentially the essential teachings of the Vedas (literally, it translates as “the end of the Vedas”), and primarily is based in the teachings of the Upanishads.

Advaita Vedanta, the ancient Hindu philosophy of non-dualism, is actually becoming more and more well-known these days, partly due to teachers like Gangaji, Mooji, Ekhart Tolle, and Adyashanti who have been in a sense popularizing/translating this for a Western audience (they are sometimes called “neo-advaitins”).  This is actually the world that I inhabited for years before getting into the Course, and it was the Advaita philosophy that always seemed the highest and most profound for me.   So when I discovered the Course, to go back to the issue of doubt and skepticism about its message, I can’t tell you what a confirmation it was to see how very similar the Course is to Advaita Vedanta.  I mean, it’s uncanny.  It’s like, c’mon, how could this possibly be?

Now, even though these two traditions are so similar, and even though I was so grounded in the Advaita Vedanta tradition, currently the Course speaks to me more and it has helped me as much as Advaita has, if not more.   It might well be that this is so just because it’s all so new to me, but it could also be that I’ve finally found the one thing to lead me home, which is what it feels like.  I also sense that the Course will be easier for westerners to grasp, plus it’s all in one book, so I’ve found it useful to use it as an aid in the teaching of yoga, and nonduality in particular.

The thing about the Course is that there’s a bit of a learning curve involved, and it has to do with its language – again, the FORM in which its author chose to present the material.  Essentially, to use another term from the yoga tradition, the Course is presenting us with a form of Jnana Yoga.  What is Jnana Yoga?  Jnana Yoga is actually one of 7-8 major paths to God found in the yoga tradition.  Some of the other paths are: Karma Yoga (the path of selfless action), Raja Yoga (the meditative path), Bhakti Yoga (the devotional path), Tantra Yoga (the path of sacred ritual), and Hatha Yoga (the path of transcendence through the body).   Today in the West, it is really Hatha Yoga that has really caught on with the general population, but the other paths of yoga have also taken root, though to a far lesser extent, as well.   For example, the Hare Krishna movement has brought more of the Bhakti element to the fore, Bhakti being the devotional path.  And Transcendental Meditation (TM) has brought more of the Raja Yoga path, Raja being the meditative path.  Krishnamurti introduced many to the path of Jnana Yoga, etc.

So Jnana Yoga is often called the path for the thinkers, those who are more philosophically oriented.  After scribing the Course, Helen apparently said something to the effect, “Finally, there’s something for the thinkers!”   Yes, Helen was proud of the Course and even somewhat protective of it, even though she herself chose not to practice it and even apparently renounced it toward the end of her life.  Another interesting thing she said at one point was: “I know it’s all true, I just don’t believe it!”  I feel Ken Wapnick was correct in saying that Helen didn’t need to practice the Course, it wasn’t necessary for her to do so.  She had fulfilled her purpose in her lifetime by being a pure channel for the Course’s message, and that was enough.

Helen also apparently didn’t feel the Course was for everyone, just really for a small group of people who were truly ready for it.  This may very well be the case, yet it is true that as I said before, the Course is also for every body, and everyone can be helped by its message, even if they don’t accept all of its terms and conditions and go all the way with it.  My understanding is that the Course is saying that we all wake up to what the Course is saying on our own eventually anyway, with or without the help of the Course – in fact, it’s already happened, we just missed the memo and are currently in the process of remembering that accomplished fact.

Just to give you an idea of how we are all in this process, willy nilly (whether we know it or not), even my dad has been doing the Course. One thing dad has started to say in recent years (he’s in his mid-80s now) is “you can make yourself happy, or you can make yourself sad.”  Well, that’s the Course’s essential message right there – it’s all our choice, suffering is optional.  And my dad’s also started to say: “Would you rather be right or happy?”  Which is one of the Course’s brilliant lines that has really caught on.  My dad must have heard that somewhere because he doesn’t even know what A Course in Miracles is, nor do I think he would care much for it if he did.   But my point is that we either come to these things on our own (and then if we do pick up the Course, its like: “Of Course!”), or we learn them from the Course itself, or from the many spin-offs on the Course that are out there these days.

In any case, it’s the Jnana Yogis who I feel can appreciate the Course the most, because the Course is a completely worked-out and consistent “thought system,” a whole philosophy.  It’s very logical and it also points out the extent to which we can go with intellectual reasoning.  I personally was drawn to the Course because of this element, but not just that —  it has an authority about it that I still have not found any way to dismiss.  I want to add that my early training was in philosophy and psychology, and Plato/ Socrates were my greatest inspirations early on.

Jnana Yoga is also the path of discerning between the real and unreal in each and every moment.  Simply put for our purposes, this means making choices out of Love, not out of fear. The ego and all that spawns from its thought system is “unreal” according to the Course, and God, who is also Love, is the one and only reality.  So our return to God must be through a process of searching our mind and separating out our incorrect and misguided thinking, choosing to think only as God thinks (so to speak), aligning our will with God’s Will.  Again, though, in this process we are not adding anything, only removing what is not true.

Besides Jnana Yoga, the Course does contain elements of the other yogas, too, particularly Bhakti Yoga. In Bhakti Yoga we find the elements of trust, surrender, humility, faith and devotion. Essentially, the Course is asking that we surrender to its message, and follow it to a “t” (get it?)  But everything is voluntary, there is no coercion here, no fear of punishment.  Jesus, the symbol of the Perfect Love within all of us, is saying to us: You will have to do this sooner or later, my dear, so why not now?  So the Bhakti element here would be the extent to which we can let go and accept its perfect message of love and forgiveness. May we all have Godspeed with this!

forgiveness is still

     FOR MORE, PLEASE SEE OUR WEBSITE: http://www.trulyhelpful.love

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ACIM Supplemental Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 29

ACIM Supplemental Reading for November 29

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process & Practice

The Process of Illness

As all therapy is psychotherapy, so all illness is mental illness. It is a judgment on the Son of God, and judgment is a mental activity. Judgment is a decision, made again and again, against creation and its Creator. It is a decision to perceive the universe as you would have created it. It is a decision that truth can lie and must be lies. What, then, can illness be except an expression of sorrow and of guilt? And who could weep but for his innocence?

Once God’s Son is seen as guilty, illness becomes inevitable. It has been asked for and will be received. And all who ask for illness have now condemned themselves to seek for remedies that cannot help, because their faith is in the illness and not in salvation. There can be nothing that a change of mind cannot effect, for all external things are only shadows of a decision already made. Change the decision, and how can its shadow be unchanged? Illness can be but guilt’s shadow, grotesque and ugly since it mimics deformity. If a deformity is seen as real, what could its shadow be except deformed?

The descent into hell follows step by step in an inevitable course, once the decision that guilt is real has been made. Sickness and death and misery now stalk the earth in unrelenting waves, sometimes together and sometimes in grim succession. Yet all these things, however real they seem, are but illusions. Who could have faith in them once this is realized? And who could not have faith in them until he realizes this? Healing is therapy or correction, and we have said already and will say again, all therapy is psychotherapy. To heal the sick is but to bring this realization to them.

The word “cure” has come into disrepute among the more “respectable” therapists of the world, and justly so. For not one of them can cure, and not one of them understands healing. At worst, they but make the body real in their own minds, and having done so, seek for magic by which to heal the ills with which their minds endow it. How could such a process cure? It is ridiculous from start to finish. Yet having started, it must finish thus. It is as if God were the devil and must be found in evil. How could love be there? And how could sickness cure? Are not these both one question?

At best, and the word is perhaps questionable here, the “healers” of the world may recognize the mind as the source of illness. But their error lies in the belief that it can cure itself. This has some merit in a world where “degrees of error” is a meaningful concept. Yet must their cures remain temporary, or another illness rise instead, for death has not been overcome until the meaning of love is understood. And who can understand this without the Word of God, given by Him to the Holy Spirit as His gift to you?

Illness of any kind may be defined as the result of a view of the self as weak, vulnerable, evil and endangered, and thus in need of constant defense. Yet if such were really the self, defense would be impossible. Therefore, the defenses sought for must be magical. They must overcome all limits perceived in the self, at the same time making a new self-concept into which the old one cannot return. In a word, error is accepted as real and dealt with by illusions. Truth being brought to illusions, reality now becomes a threat and is perceived as evil. Love becomes feared because reality is love. Thus is the circle closed against the “inroads” of salvation.

Illness is therefore a mistake and needs correction. And as we have already emphasized, correction cannot be achieved by first establishing the “rightness” of the mistake and then overlooking it. If illness is real it cannot be overlooked in truth, for to overlook reality is insanity. Yet that is magic’s purpose; to make illusions true through false perception. This cannot heal, for it opposes truth. Perhaps an illusion of health is substituted for a little while, but not for long. Fear cannot long be hidden by illusions, for it is part of them. It will escape and take another form, being the source of all illusions.

Sickness is insanity because all sickness is mental illness, and in it there are no degrees. One of the illusions by which sickness is perceived as real is the belief that illness varies in intensity; that the degree of threat differs according to the form it takes. Herein lies the basis of all errors, for all of them are but attempts to compromise by seeing just a little bit of hell. This is a mockery so alien to God that it must be forever inconceivable. But the insane believe it because they are insane.

A madman will defend his own illusions because in them he sees his own salvation. Thus, he will attack the one who tries to save him from them, believing that he is attacking him. This curious circle of attack-defense is one of the most difficult problems with which the psychotherapist must deal. In fact, this is his central task; the core of psychotherapy. The therapist is seen as one who is attacking the patient’s most cherished possession; his picture of himself. And since this picture has become the patient’s security as he perceives it, the therapist cannot but be seen as a real source of danger, to be attacked and even killed.

The psychotherapist, then, has a tremendous responsibility. He must meet attack without attack, and therefore without defense. It is his task to demonstrate that defenses are not necessary, and that defenselessness is strength. This must be his teaching, if his lesson is to be that sanity is safe. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the insane believe that sanity is threat. This is the corollary of the “original sin”; the belief that guilt is real and fully justified. It is therefore the psychotherapist’s function to teach that guilt, being unreal, cannot be justified. But neither is it safe. And thus it must remain unwanted as well as unreal.

Salvation’s single doctrine is the goal of all therapy. Relieve the mind of the insane burden of guilt it carries so wearily, and healing is accomplished. The body is not cured. It is merely recognized as what it is. Seen rightly, its purpose can be understood. What is the need for sickness then? Given this single shift, all else will follow. There is no need for complicated change. There is no need for long analyses and wearying discussion and pursuits. The truth is simple, being one for all.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 29

Lesson 328
I choose the second place to gain the first.

What seems to be the second place is first, for all things we perceive are upside down until we listen to the Voice for God. It seems that we will gain autonomy but by our striving to be separate, and that our independence from the rest of God’s creation is the way in which salvation is obtained. Yet all we find is sickness, suffering and loss and death. This is not what our Father wills for us, nor is there any second to His Will. To join with His is but to find our own. And since our will is His, it is to Him that we must go to recognize our will.

There is no will but Yours. And I am glad that nothing I imagine contradicts what You would have me be. It is Your Will that I be wholly safe, eternally at peace. And happily I share that Will which You, my Father, gave as part of me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1125: What does A Course in Miracles teach about spiritual verbal communication through mediums? Who talks to us in these communications? In Brazil, people present at Kardec Centers ‘receive’ messages they say are given by ‘spirits’ that identify themselves with their real names or a name they give just to have one. There are even many, many books published in Brazil about what they say. I am not a Kardecist and never have been, but Kardec, as well as his books, is well known the world over.

A: Since we are all only split off parts of the one ego self, we are only ever talking to ourselves, no matter who seems to be speaking. And since that self is illusory, all conversations, whether seeming to happen with other physical bodies or with discarnate voices, are simply hallucinations. Now that answer may be the truth, but it is not particularly satisfying from the perspective of where we seem to find ourselves.

While the Course does not address the issue of mediumship specifically, the book’s very existence would have to be considered support for the validity and helpfulness of the process, since Helen Schucman viewed Jesus and not herself as the source of the material she wrote down. But she also understood that Jesus did not exist as an entity outside herself, but rather as a presence within her mind that was always available to her, whether or not she was willing to be available to him!

As a point of clarification, the Course uses the word spirit differently from its more common usage, as in the case of spirit mediumship that Kardec researched and explored in the nineteenth century. In the Course, spirit refers to our reality as Christ in the Mind of God, beyond the ego split mind and any sense of individual identity (T.3.V.7:3,4; C.1.1,2,3,4) . Since, as the Course teaches, mind is never inside the body ( e.g., T.28.II.2:8; T.29.I.5;W.pI.72.8; W.pI.96.4:4; W.pI.167.6; W.pI.199.7:2) , spirit as typically used would simply be, from the Course’s perspective, any seemingly separate fragment of the ego mind, whether it happens to believe that it is currently incarnated within a body or not. And all communication therefore occurs only between minds, and not between bodies, despite what our experience seems to tell us to the contrary ( see Question #1122 for a more in-depth discussion ) .

If this is understood, it should be apparent that the fact that a message seems to be coming from a discarnate voice in no way assures that the message is reflecting a higher or more healed perspective. Nor does identification with a physical body necessarily preclude more advanced understanding of the true nature of reality and the means for remembering it. It is helpful to recognize that, at the level of content, there are only two possible sources for any message we receive — the ego or the Holy Spirit — regardless of where in the world of form it may seem to come from. From the Course’s perspective, preoccupation with specifics and differences is a red flag that the ego is the likely source, or is at least a filter that is coloring and distorting the message. Reminders that help us step back from our judgments and recognize what we all share in common are likely to have the Holy Spirit as their Source.

Near the end of the Course, Jesus speaks of the one source behind all messages of healing despite the various forms through which they may seem to be expressed and also explains why we need to experience the medium as specific:

“Why is the illusion of many necessary? Only because reality is not understandable to the deluded. Only very few can hear God’s Voice at all, and even they cannot communicate His messages directly through the Spirit which gave them. They need a medium through which communication becomes possible to those who do not realize that they are spirit. A body they can see. A voice they understand and listen to, without the fear that truth would encounter in them. Do not forget that truth can come only where it is welcomed without fear. So do God’s teachers need a body, for their unity could not be recognized directly” (M.12.3).

That we are all mediums who are channeling all the time — channeling either the ego or the Holy Spirit — is a helpful perspective on the whole issue of mediumship and channeling that minimizes differences and takes away the sense of specialness that our egos would like to attribute to the process. This perspective is developed and elaborated on in the audio set, The Inner Voice, by Kenneth Wapnick.

certain as god

cdbaby-cover-heart-n-hands-01

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for April 28

ACIM Text Reading for April 28

Chapter 14 ~ Teaching for Truth

III. The Decision for Guiltlessness

The happy learner cannot feel guilty about learning. This is so essential to learning that it should never be forgotten. The guiltless learner learns easily because his thoughts are free. Yet this entails the recognition that guilt is interference, not salvation, and serves no useful function at all.

Perhaps you are accustomed to using guiltlessness merely to offset the pain of guilt, and do not look upon it as having value in itself. You believe that guilt and guiltlessness are both of value, each representing an escape from what the other does not offer you. You do not want either alone, for without both you do not see yourself as whole and therefore happy. Yet you are whole only in your guiltlessness, and only in your guiltlessness can you be happy. There is no conflict here. To wish for guilt in any way, in any form, will lose appreciation of the value of your guiltlessness, and push it from your sight.

There is no compromise that you can make with guilt, and escape the pain that only guiltlessness allays. Learning is living here, as creating is being in Heaven. Whenever the pain of guilt seems to attract you, remember that if you yield to it, you are deciding against your happiness, and will not learn how to be happy. Say therefore, to yourself, gently, but with the conviction born of the Love of God and of His Son,

What I experience I will make manifest.

If I am guiltless, I have nothing to fear.

I choose to testify to my acceptance of the Atonement, not to its rejection.
I would accept my guiltlessness by making it manifest and sharing it.
Let me bring peace to God’s Son from his Father.

Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours. What you can decide between is fixed, because there are no alternatives except truth and illusion. And there is no overlap between them, because they are opposites which cannot be reconciled and cannot both be true. You are guilty or guiltless, bound or free, unhappy or happy.

The miracle teaches you that you have chosen guiltlessness, freedom and joy. It is not a cause, but an effect. It is the natural result of choosing right, attesting to your happiness that comes from choosing to be free of guilt. Everyone you offer healing to returns it. Everyone you attack keeps it and cherishes it by holding it against you. Whether he does this or does it not will make no difference; you will think he does. It is impossible to offer what you do not want without this penalty. The cost of giving is receiving. Either it is a penalty from which you suffer, or the happy purchase of a treasure to hold dear.

No penalty is ever asked of God’s Son except by himself and of himself. Every chance given him to heal is another opportunity to replace darkness with light and fear with love. If he refuses it he binds himself to darkness, because he did not choose to free his brother and enter light with him. By giving power to nothing, he throws away the joyous opportunity to learn that nothing has no power. And by not dispelling darkness, he became afraid of darkness and of light. The joy of learning that darkness has no power over the Son of God is the happy lesson the Holy Spirit teaches, and would have you teach with Him. It is His joy to teach it, as it will be yours.

The way to teach this simple lesson is merely this: Guiltlessness is invulnerability. Therefore, make your invulnerability manifest to everyone. Teach him that, whatever he may try to do to you, your perfect freedom from the belief that you can be harmed shows him that he is guiltless. He can do nothing that can hurt you, and by refusing to allow him to think he can, you teach him that the Atonement, which you have accepted for yourself, is also his. There is nothing to forgive. No one can hurt the Son of God. His guilt is wholly without cause, and being without cause, cannot exist.

God is the only Cause, and guilt is not of Him. Teach no one he has hurt you, for if you do, you teach yourself that what is not of God has power over you. The causeless cannot be. Do not attest to it, and do not foster belief in it in any mind. Remember always that mind is one, and cause is one. You will learn communication with this oneness only when you learn to deny the causeless, and accept the Cause of God as yours. The power that God has given to His Son is his, and nothing else can His Son see or choose to look upon without imposing on himself the penalty of guilt, in place of all the happy teaching the Holy Spirit would gladly offer him.

Whenever you choose to make decisions for yourself you are thinking destructively, and the decision will be wrong. It will hurt you because of the concept of decision that led to it. It is not true that you can make decisions by yourself or for yourself alone. No thought of God’s Son can be separate or isolated in its effects. Every decision is made for the whole Sonship, directed in and out, and influencing a constellation larger than anything you ever dreamed of.

Those who accept the Atonement are invulnerable. But those who believe they are guilty will respond to guilt, because they think it is salvation, and will not refuse to see it and side with it. They believe that increasing guilt is self-protection. And they will fail to understand the simple fact that what they do not want must hurt them. All this arises because they do not believe that what they want is good. Yet will was given them because it is holy, and will bring to them all that they need, coming as naturally as peace that knows no limits. There is nothing their will fails to provide that offers them anything of value. Yet because they do not understand their will, the Holy Spirit quietly understands it for them, and gives them what they want without effort, strain, or the impossible burden of deciding what they want and need alone.

It will never happen that you must make decisions for yourself. You are not bereft of help, and Help that knows the answer. Would you be content with little, which is all that you alone can offer yourself, when He Who gives you everything will simply offer it to you? He will never ask what you have done to make you worthy of the gift of God. Ask it not therefore of yourself. Instead, accept His answer, for He knows that you are worthy of everything God wills for you. Do not try to escape the gift of God He so freely and so gladly offers you. He offers you but what God gave Him for you. You need not decide whether or not you are deserving of it. God knows you are.

Would you deny the truth of God’s decision, and place your pitiful appraisal of yourself in place of His calm and unswerving value of His Son? Nothing can shake God’s conviction of the perfect purity of everything that He created, for it is wholly pure. Do not decide against it, for being of Him it must be true. Peace abides in every mind that quietly accepts the plan God set for its Atonement, relinquishing its own. You know not of salvation, for you do not understand it. Make no decisions about what it is or where it lies, but ask the Holy Spirit everything, and leave all decisions to His gentle counsel.

The One Who knows the plan of God that God would have you follow can teach you what it is. Only His wisdom is capable of guiding you to follow it. Every decision you undertake alone but signifies that you would define what salvation is, and what you would be saved from. The Holy Spirit knows that all salvation is escape from guilt. You have no other ‘enemy’, and against this strange distortion of the purity of the Son of God the Holy Spirit is your only Friend. He is the strong protector of the innocence that sets you free. And it is His decision to undo everything that would obscure your innocence from your unclouded mind.

Let Him, therefore, be the only Guide that you would follow to salvation. He knows the way, and leads you gladly on it. With Him you will not fail to learn that what God wills for you is your will. Without His guidance you will think you know alone, and will decide against your peace as surely as you decided that salvation lay in you alone. Salvation is of Him to Whom God gave it for you. He has not forgotten it. Forget Him not and He will make every decision for you, for your salvation and the peace of God in you.

Seek not to appraise the worth of God’s Son whom He created holy, for to do so is to evaluate his Father and judge against Him. And you will feel guilty for this imagined crime, which no one in this world or Heaven could possibly commit. The Holy Spirit teaches only that the ‘sin’ of self-replacement on the throne of God is not a source of guilt. What cannot happen can have no effects to fear. Be quiet in your faith in Him Who loves you, and would lead you out of insanity. Madness may be your choice, but not your reality. Never forget the Love of God, Who has remembered you. For it is quite impossible that He could ever let His Son drop from the loving Mind wherein he was created, and where his abode was fixed in perfect peace forever.

Say to the Holy Spirit only, ‘Decide for me’, and it is done. For His decisions are reflections of what God knows about you, and in this light, error of any kind becomes impossible. Why would you struggle so frantically to anticipate all you cannot know, when all knowledge lies behind every decision the Holy Spirit makes for you? Learn of His wisdom and His Love, and teach His answer to everyone who struggles in the dark. For you decide for them and for yourself.

How gracious it is to decide all things through Him Whose equal Love is given equally to all alike! He leaves you no one outside you. And so He gives you what is yours, because your Father would have you share it with Him. In everything be led by Him, and do not reconsider. Trust Him to answer quickly, surely, and with Love for everyone who will be touched in any way by the decision. And everyone will be. Would you take unto yourself the sole responsibility for deciding what can bring only good to everyone? Would you know this?

You taught yourself the most unnatural habit of not communicating with your Creator. Yet you remain in close communication with Him, and with everything that is within Him, as it is within yourself. Unlearn isolation through His loving guidance, and learn of all the happy communication that you have thrown away but could not lose.

Whenever you are in doubt what you should do, think of His Presence in you, and tell yourself this, and only this:

He leadeth me and knows the way, which I know not.
Yet He will never keep from me what He would have me learn.
And so I trust Him to communicate to me all that He knows for me.
Then let Him teach you quietly how to perceive your guiltlessness, which is already there.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 28

Lesson 117
For morning and evening review:

(103) God, being Love, is also happiness.

Let me remember love is happiness, and nothing else
brings joy. And so I choose to entertain no substitutes
for love.

(104) I seek but what belongs to me in truth.

Love is my heritage, and with it joy. These are the
gifts my Father gave to me. I would accept all that is
mine in truth.

On the hour:

God, being Love, is also happiness.

On the half hour:

I seek but what belongs to me in truth.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #230: During the several times that I have worked with the workbook of A Course in Miracles, I find I have left things undone that belong to earlier lessons, e.g., meaning and meaninglessness. The instructions clearly say that only one lesson per day is to be worked. My intuition tells me to go back to the beginning, in order not to confuse the sequence of the workbook. I wonder if others have asked this question before, but have not been answered yet?

A: It is not necessary to begin the workbook again. You can always go back and do a lesson again or concentrate on a specific concept that you skipped over; but that does not mean that you should start all over again. Jesus does not expect us to do a lesson perfectly before we move on to the next one. He is far more aware of our resistance and fear than we are, so he knows we will misinterpret what he says, not do everything he asks, and when we do it, we will do it imperfectly. He is interested only in our willingness and humility as we practice the lessons. The middle of Lesson 95, in particular, discusses the attitude we should have when we run into problems in our work with the lessons. You might also wish to look at Questions #64 and #92, which pertain to the workbook.

Q #231: My question pertains to the world we see as an illusion. Is it safe to say that if we find “enjoyment” here we must keep in mind it is still only an illusion, otherwise we become attached to it in a negative way? Does this sort of parallel what the scriptures say that we are not of this world but only in this world? This makes for a tug of war within us because when we seem to desire something, we ask: which part is doing the desiring? At that point, can we justify the desire by keeping in mind that it really does not matter because it is only illusion and then go on and enjoy? Is justify the wrong word? Are we on the right track with this reasoning?

A: Your reasoning is partially correct. Anything we desire in the world of form is only an illusion, but we should not dismiss our seeking or desiring it too quickly. Although A Course in Miracles does not ask that we relinquish enjoyment in the dream, it does ask that we recognize the real motives for our pursuit of pleasurable experiences. It tells us that we are seeking to fill the void left by our seeming separation from God with substitutes for His Love that never fully satisfy us. This is at the root of all our seeking in the dream. The Course uncovers our motives in the hopes that we will learn not to seek outside ourselves for what will never truly bring us happiness. As long as we make the mistake of believing that the cause of our “enjoyment” is something or someone external to ourselves, we will seek in vain, in keeping with the ego’s maxim: “Seek but do not find” (M.13.5:8). The Course tells us that the only enjoyment possible in the dream is a peaceful state of mind, and that is achieved only by the choice to join with the Holy Spirit in the mind, and accept His interpretation of every experience or relationship we have. That is not to say that we cannot enjoy a pleasurable experience in the world. The point is that if our mind is at peace, it does not matter whether we are enjoying a beautiful concert or are stuck in hot traffic — our peacefulness remains undisturbed. This is not the same as indulging our desires for pleasure by saying it is all an illusion and it doesn’t matter. If we were at the point in our spiritual journey where we truly believed that this is all an illusion, we would not need A Course in Miracles to help us see how real we think the world is, and, we would not be in pursuit of enjoyment in the world. Meanwhile, all the things in the world we do seek are important reminders of how attached we are to our identity as bodies and the ego thought system, which makes separation and the world very real. Both negative emotions (pain) as well as positive emotions (enjoyment) which are evoked by our experiences are our “proof” that the world is real. We are learning to be aware of how desperately we seek this.

The only part of our mind that desires anything, no matter how lofty it may seem to be, is the ego: “Appetites are ‘getting’ mechanisms, representing the ego’s need to confirm itself. This is as true of body appetites as it is of the so-called ‘higher ego needs.’ Body appetites are not physical in origin. The ego regards the body as its home, and tries to satisfy itself through the body. But the idea that this is possible is a decision of the mind, which has become completely confused about what is really possible” (T.II.7:5, 6,7,8,9). The Course is a mind training process because we are so confused, have taught ourselves upside down thinking, and do not know what makes us happy: “You no more recognize what is painful than you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain” (T.7.X.3:4,5,6). This does not mean we should feel guilty for seeking enjoyment. It is no different than any of the other things we do to take care of ourselves in the illusion. While we still believe in our identity as bodies, we will find “enjoyment” in the world. Though the ego uses this to support the belief that the separation is real, the Holy Spirit can use it as part of His classroom to teach us that there is no satisfaction in this world, and that our only true happiness is found in God. We may also have experiences that are truly joyful because they reflect a choice in the mind to identify with the Holy Spirit. As we continue to practice what the Course teaches, we will eventually have truly joyful experiences that reflect the choice made in the mind to identify with the Holy Spirit. This joy comes from the content in the mind rather than anything in form.

Peace of God

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for April 9

ACIM Text Reading for April 9

Chapter 12 ~ The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum

V. The Sane Curriculum

Only love is strong because it is undivided. The strong do not attack because they see no need to do so. Before the idea of attack can enter your mind, you must have perceived yourself as weak. Because you attacked yourself and believed that the attack was effective, you behold yourself as weakened. No longer perceiving yourself and your brothers as equal, and regarding yourself as weaker, you attempt to ‘equalise’ the situation you made. You use attack to do so because you believe that attack was successful in weakening you.

That is why the recognition of your own invulnerability is so important to the restoration of your sanity. For if you accept your invulnerability, you are recognising that attack has no effect. Although you have attacked yourself, you will be demonstrating that nothing really happened. Therefore, by attacking you have not done anything. Once you realise this you will no longer see any sense in attack, for it manifestly does not work and cannot protect you. Yet the recognition of your invulnerability has more than negative value. If your attacks on yourself have failed to weaken you, you are still strong. You therefore have no need to ‘equalise’ the situation to establish your strength.

You will never realise the utter uselessness of attack except by recognising that your attack on yourself has no effects. For others do react to attack if they perceive it, and if you are trying to attack them you will be unable to avoid interpreting this as reinforcement. The only place you can cancel out all reinforcement is in yourself. For you are always the first point of your attack, and if this has never been, it has no consequences.

The Holy Spirit’s Love is your strength, for yours is divided and therefore not real. You cannot trust your own love when you attack it. You cannot learn of perfect love with a split mind, because a split mind has made itself a poor learner. You tried to make the separation eternal, because you wanted to retain the characteristics of creation, but with your own content. Yet creation is not of you, and poor learners do need special teaching.

You have learning handicaps in a very literal sense. There are areas in your learning skills that are so impaired that you can progress only under constant, clear-cut direction, provided by a Teacher Who can transcend your limited resources. He becomes your Resource because of yourself you cannot learn. The learning situation in which you placed yourself is impossible, and in this situation you clearly require a special Teacher and a special curriculum. Poor learners are not good choices as teachers, either for themselves or for anyone else. You would hardly turn to them to establish the curriculum by which they can escape from their limitations. If they understood what is beyond them, they would not be handicapped.

You do not know the meaning of love, and that is your handicap. Do not attempt to teach yourself what you do not understand, and do not try to set up curriculum goals where yours have clearly failed. Your learning goal has been not to learn, and this cannot lead to successful learning. You cannot transfer what you have not learned, and the impairment of the ability to generalise is a crucial learning failure. Would you ask those who have failed to learn what learning aids are for They do not know. If they could interpret the aids correctly, they would have learned from them.

I have said that the ego’s rule is, ‘Seek and do not find’. Translated into curricular terms this means, ‘Try to learn but do not succeed’. The result of this curriculum goal is obvious. Every legitimate teaching aid, every real instruction, and every sensible guide to learning will be misinterpreted, since they are all for facilitating the learning this strange curriculum is against. If you are trying to learn how not to learn, and the aim of your teaching is to defeat itself, what can you expect but confusion? Such a curriculum does not make sense. This attempt at ‘learning’ has so weakened your mind that you cannot love, for the curriculum you have chosen is against love, and amounts to a course in how to attack yourself. A supplementary goal in this curriculum is learning how not to overcome the split that makes its primary aim believable. And you will not overcome the split in this curriculum, for all your learning will be on its behalf. Yet your mind speaks against your learning as your learning speaks against your mind, and so you fight against all learning and succeed, for that is what you want. But perhaps you do not realise, even yet, that there is something you want to learn, and that you can learn it because it is your choice to do so.

You who have tried to learn what you do not want should take heart, for although the curriculum you set yourself is depressing indeed, it is merely ridiculous if you look at it. Is it possible that the way to achieve a goal is not to attain it? Resign now as your own teacher. This resignation will not lead to depression. It is merely the result of an honest appraisal of what you have taught yourself, and of the learning outcomes that have resulted. Under the proper learning conditions, which you can neither provide nor understand, you will become an excellent learner and an excellent teacher. But it is not so yet, and will not be so until the whole learning situation as you have set it up is reversed.

Your learning potential, properly understood, is limitless because it will lead you to God. You can teach the way to Him and learn it, if you follow the Teacher Who knows the way to Him and understands His curriculum for learning it. The curriculum is totally unambiguous, because the goal is not divided and the means and the end are in complete accord. You need offer only undivided attention. Everything else will be given you. For you really want to learn aright, and nothing can oppose the decision of God’s Son. His learning is as unlimited as he is.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 9

Lesson 99
Salvation is my only function here.

Salvation and forgiveness are the same. They both imply that something has gone wrong; something to be saved from, forgiven for; something amiss that needs corrective change; something apart or different from the Will of God. Thus do both terms imply a thing impossible but yet which has occurred, resulting in a state of conflict seen between what is and what could never be.

Truth and illusions both are equal now, for both have happened. The impossible becomes the thing you need forgiveness for, salvation from. Salvation now becomes the borderland between the truth and the illusion. It reflects the truth because it is the means by which you can escape illusions. Yet it is not yet the truth because it undoes what was never done.

How could there be a meeting place at all where earth and Heaven can be reconciled within a mind where both of them exist? The mind that sees illusions thinks them real. They have existence in that they are thoughts. And yet they are not real, because the mind that thinks these thoughts is separate from God.

What joins the separated mind and thoughts with Mind and Thought which are forever One? What plan could hold the truth inviolate, yet recognize the need illusions bring, and offer means by which they are undone without attack and with no touch of pain? What but a Thought of God could be this plan, by which the never done is overlooked, and sins forgotten which were never real?

The Holy Spirit holds this plan of God exactly as it was received of Him within the Mind of God and in your own. It is apart from time in that its Source is timeless. Yet it operates in time, because of your belief that time is real. Unshaken does the Holy Spirit look on what you see; on sin and pain and death, on grief and separation and on loss. Yet does He know one thing must still be true; God is still Love, and this is not His Will.

This is the Thought that brings illusions to the truth, and sees them as appearances behind which is the changeless and the sure. This is the Thought that saves and that forgives, because it lays no faith in what is not created by the only Source it knows. This is the Thought whose function is to save by giving you its function as your own. Salvation is your function, with the One to Whom the plan was given. Now are you entrusted with this plan, along with Him. He has one answer to appearances; regardless of their form, their size, their depth or any attribute they seem to have:

Salvation is my only function here.
God still is Love, and this is not His Will.

You who will yet work miracles, be sure you practice well the idea for today. Try to perceive the strength in what you say, for these are words in which your freedom lies. Your Father loves you. All the world of pain is not His Will. Forgive yourself the thought He wanted this for you. Then let the Thought with which He has replaced all your mistakes enter the darkened places of your mind that thought the thoughts that never were His Will.

This part belongs to God, as does the rest. It does not think its solitary thoughts, and make them real by hiding them from Him. Let in the light, and you will look upon no obstacle to what He wills for you. Open your secrets to His kindly light, and see how bright this light still shines in you.

Practice His Thought today, and let His light seek out and lighten up all darkened spots, and shine through them to join them to the rest. It is God’s Will your mind be one with His. It is God’s Will that He has but one Son. It is God’s Will that His one Son is you. Think of these things in practicing today, and start the lesson that we learn today with this instruction in the way of truth:

Salvation is my only function here.
Salvation and forgiveness are the same.

Then turn to Him Who shares your function here, and let Him teach you what you need to learn to lay all fear aside, and know your Self as Love which has no opposite in you.

Forgive all thoughts which would oppose the truth of your completion, unity and peace. You cannot lose the gifts your Father gave. You do not want to be another self. You have no function that is not of God. Forgive yourself the one you think you made. Forgiveness and salvation are the same. Forgive what you have made and you are saved.

There is a special message for today which has the power to remove all forms of doubt and fear forever from your mind. If you are tempted to believe them true, remember that appearances can not withstand the truth these mighty words contain:

Salvation is my only function here.
God still is Love, and this is not His Will.

Your only function tells you you are one. Remind yourself of this between the times you give five minutes to be shared with Him Who shares God’s plan with you. Remind yourself:

Salvation is my only function here.

Thus do you lay forgiveness on your mind and let all fear be gently laid aside, that love may find its rightful place in you and show you that you are the Son of God.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #94: The Course alludes to reincarnation. Can you develop this in more detail? I am 67 years old and running out of time to learn forgiveness. I would certainly like to learn it in this lifetime because I’ll be darned if I want to go through this world again if I don’t have to. I wish we had the option to go poof from this world into the arms of God. I say I want the peace of God but obviously I don’t because I don’t have the peace of God. So I sometimes wish the option existed for people like me who profess a willingness to change to push a button and just make it happen. Then I could push it and learn forgiveness in spite of my “good intentions”. Sometimes I think my whole problem is that instead of being grateful to God for my creation I resented being created because God was more than I. I know that sounds ridiculous but I have to learn otherwise.

A: So many jerks to forgive, so little time! But that’s just your ego speaking — things don’t really work as you’re supposing. And worrying that you won’t learn forgiveness in this lifetime only keeps you trapped that much longer in the illusion of it all. Since forgiveness happens in the mind outside of time and space, it does not depend on time or space for your progress (e.g., T.15.I.9; T.26.VIII.6:1,2,3,4,5). It depends only on your willingness (in the mind) to practice the lessons of forgiveness as your external world seems to present them to you now, one by one. But to do that, you must understand what forgiveness is and what the purpose of the world is.

Resistance to the world only reinforces your belief that the world is real and that it is the source of all the problems that are upsetting you. The Course’s goal is not to teach us how to escape the world but rather how to escape the thought system buried in the mind that convinces us that we want and need the world and all its victimizers to be real. The world provides us an excuse to keep our focus outside our mind, blaming others for our loss of peace rather than looking at the guilt in our own mind which is the real cause. The world is quite literally the projection of the guilt hidden in our mind (T.20.VIII.9), so seeking to escape the world only plays into the ego’s plan to have us look in the wrong place for the problem and its solution (T.27.IV).

And so, since you are not really here in the world even now, it would be more helpful to focus on the choice in your mind right now for the ego than to concern yourself about possible future (or past) lives, for that only serves the ego purpose of avoiding the present moment, the only time in which forgiveness can happen (M.24.5:6). But if you’d like a further discussion of reincarnation as presented in the Course, you may wish to look at Question #24.

Sincere as it may seem, wanting a button to push that would impose forgiveness on your mind is really just a way of trying to avoid responsibility for your present condition, of not looking at the choice you are making right now to be upset and in pain. In truth, forgiveness is the button you could push or select right now, but you don’t really want to, and that’s what you want to get more in touch with — and why. Your thought about resenting God for being more than you — what the Course calls the authority problem (T.11.in.2:3) — is the kind of awareness that it would be helpful to develop further, for it is playing out in your life right now in your relationships here, a shadow of the real guilt which is hidden in the recesses of your mind.

As an antidote to your impatience with yourself, Jesus’ words on forgiveness provide a gentle reminder: “Forgiveness…is still, and quietly does nothing…It merely looks, and waits, and judges not” (W.pII.1.4:1,3).

jesus there is no death

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 16

ACIM Text Reading for November 16

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

2. The Process of Psychotherapy 

2.- V. The Process of Healing

1. While truth is simple, it must still be taught to those who have already lost their way in endless mazes of complexity. This is the great illusion. In its wake comes the inevitable belief that, to be safe, one must control the unknown. This strange belief relies on certain steps which never reach to consciousness. First, it is ushered in by the belief that there are forces to be overcome to be alive at all. And next, it seems as if these forces can be held at bay only by an inflated sense of self that holds in darkness what is truly felt, and seeks to raise illusions to the light.

2. Let us remember that the ones who come to us for help are bitterly afraid. What they believe will help can only harm; what they believe will harm alone can help. Progress becomes impossible until the patient is persuaded to reverse his twisted way of looking at the world; his twisted way of looking at himself. The truth is simple. Yet it must be taught to those who think it will endanger them. It must be taught to those who will attack because they feel endangered, and to those who need the lesson of defenselessness above all else, to show them what is strength.

3. If this world were ideal, there could perhaps be ideal therapy. And yet it would be useless in an ideal state. We speak of ideal teaching in a world in which the perfect teacher could not long remain; the perfect psychotherapist is but a glimmer of a thought not yet conceived. But still we speak of what can yet be done in helping the insane within the bounds of the attainable.
While they are sick, they can and must be helped. No more than that is asked of psychotherapy; no less than all he has to give is worthy of the therapist. For God Himself holds out his brother as his savior from the world.

4. Healing is holy. Nothing in the world is holier than helping one who asks for help. And two come very close to God in this attempt, however limited, however lacking in sincerity.
Where two have joined for healing, God is there. And He has guaranteed that He will hear and answer them in truth. They can be sure that healing is a process He directs, because it is according to His Will. We have His Word to guide us, as we try to help our brothers. Let us not forget that we are helpless of ourselves, and lean upon a strength beyond our little scope for what to teach as well as what to learn.

5. A brother seeking aid can bring us gifts beyond the heights perceived in any dream. He offers us salvation, for he comes to us as Christ and Savior. What he asks is asked by God through him. And what we do for him becomes the gift we give to God. The sacred calling of God’s holy Son for help in his perceived distress can be but answered by his Father. Yet He needs a voice through which to speak His holy Word; a hand to reach His Son and touch his heart. In such a process, who could not be healed? This holy interaction is the plan of God Himself, by which His Son is saved.

6. For two have joined. And now God’s promises are kept by Him. The limits laid on both the patient and the therapist will count as nothing, for the healing has begun. What they must start their Father will complete. For He has never asked for more than just the smallest willingness, the least advance, the tiniest of whispers of His Name. To ask for help, whatever form it takes, is but to call on Him. And He will send His Answer through the therapist who best can serve His Son in all his present needs. Perhaps the answer does not seem to be a gift from Heaven. It may even seem to be a worsening and not a help. Yet let the outcome not be judged by us.

7. Somewhere all gifts of God must be received. In time no effort can be made in vain. It is not our perfection that is asked in our attempts to heal. We are deceived already, if we think there is a need of healing. And the truth will come to us only through one who seems to share our dream of sickness. Let us help him to forgive himself for all the trespasses with which he would condemn himself without a cause. His healing is our own. And as we see the sinlessness in him come shining through the veil of guilt that shrouds the Son of God, we will behold in him the face of Christ, and understand that it is but our own.

8. Let us stand silently before God’s Will, and do what it has chosen that we do. There is one way alone by which we come to where all dreams began. And it is there that we will lay them down, to come away in peace forever. Hear a brother call for help and answer him. It will be God to Whom you answer, for you called on Him. There is no other way to hear His Voice.
There is no other way to seek His Son. There is no other way to find your Self. Holy is healing, for the Son of God returns to Heaven through its kind embrace. For healing tells him, in the Voice for God, that all his sins have been forgiven him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 16

Lesson 320

My Father gives all power unto me.

The Son of God is limitless. There are no limits on his strength, his peace, his joy, nor any attributes his Father gave in his creation. What he wills with his Creator and Redeemer must be done. His holy will can never be denied, because his Father shines upon his mind, and lays before it all the strength and love in earth and Heaven. I am he to whom all this is given. I am he in whom the power of my Father’s Will abides.

Your Will can do all things in me, and then extend to all the world as well through me. There is no limit on Your Will. And so all power has been given to Your Son.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #239: I have a question regarding the March 2003 Lighthouse article. The beginning, about “regime change,” made sense to me, and had me laughing. But at the end I was frustrated — I didn’t know how to formulate how to act, or what actions to support. If the only sane response is forgiveness, does that mean we shouldn’t try to stop people who are hurting others? Can we stop them lovingly? What if we have to kill them to stop them — can that be loving?

A: The answer to your questions lies in understanding the teachings of A Course in Miracles on forgiveness, which is not the same as the ego’s version of forgiveness. Forgiveness, according to the ego, rests on seeing sin, and then forgiving it. It then esteems some “sinners” as deserving of forgiveness, and some as not. The important thing for the ego is making the error real by believing some harm has been done by one part of the Sonship to another, and that its effect is real. These beliefs are in full operation in a situation, such as the war in Iraq. It is a perfect opportunity to see the ego thought system in action — not on the battlefield of the Iraqi desert, but in our mind, which is where forgiveness is needed. It is also a perfect opportunity for forgiveness, as stated in the Lighthouse article. Forgiveness, as taught by the Course, begins by looking at the world, and events like the war in Iraq, paying attention to all the judgments and feelings that come up in us, and recognizing their source, which is the mind: “It [the world] is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition”(T.21.in.1:5). The real war, therefore, is in our mind. The judgments and feelings are projections of the guilt in our own mind which is caused by our choice to identify with the ego’s belief in the separation. The mind then becomes a battleground, and the war in the world merely reflects the conflict in the mind. Since this is an activity of the mind, it needs correction on the level of the mind, not on the level of form. As a student of the Course our part in “ending the war” lies in this forgiveness process.

The next step in the Course’s forgiveness process is the recognition that no true harm is done by the war: “There is nothing to forgive. No one can hurt the Son of God” (T.14.III.7:5,6). Any perceived damage is based on the belief that the separation and the body are real. Though in truth they are not, our belief makes them real in our awareness. As we watch the devastation of war on television we realize how much we do perceive damage and we do believe the body is real. All our reactions to the war come from this belief, along with so many other beliefs about how the world should work, who is responsible for the war, who are the victims, and on and on. The list of misperceptions is very long, particularly in an extreme example, such as war. It is this belief system that causes our upset, not the events of the war. And it is this belief system that brings about war in the world in the first place. That is why the real solution to war is forgiveness, not negotiation, or any specific action. However, while we turn within to see the turmoil in our own minds and seek help to undo our misperceptions, it is still possible to take action in the world. Just as we continue to take normal care of our bodies as we learn to undo our belief in them, so too we can do whatever we think may be helpful to resolve conflicts in the world. The decision is not whether or not to act, or what action to take, but with whom we make the decision: “And make no mistake, nowhere in A Course in Miracles does Jesus suggest that we not act in the world; only that we not act alone” (The Lighthouse, Vol. 14, No. 1, p. 5). Is the purpose of taking action to reinforce the ego’s belief in victims and victimizers, taking sides with those who are “good” against those who are “evil”, or are we willing to ask the Holy Spirit to help us see that everyone in the war is a brother calling for help, rather than a sinner, and that their truth remains inviolate no matter how insane their ego behavior is? Whatever form the action takes will then reflect the belief system of the teacher we have chosen: the ego or the Holy Spirit. Choosing to accept the Holy Spirit’s perception is the only loving response in any situation, including war. When these steps are taken it is possible to stop an aggressor from physically hurting someone else without attack. If the only way to do this is by killing another, and if a person has clearly chosen to identify with the Holy Spirit, not the ego, in principle the killing can also be done without attack, without judgment, and without guilt. There are probably very few people who would fall into this category. It may indeed be more loving to stop someone from killing another (although not necessarily), but that would only be clear if you are coming from the right mind, having chosen the Holy Spirit, and not from fear. In applying the principles of the Course to any situation in the world the only important thing to remember is the content of the mind, not the form. The mind is what we are being trained to be aware of, and it is the mind that is in need of healing.

A last consideration, but certainly not the least, is the Course teaching that there is no death: There is no death because what God created shares His life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are One” (W.167.1:5,6,7). It is when we perceive ourselves and others as separate that the Son of God is “murdered.” It follows that a person who claims to support peace and brotherhood, but is filled with judgment against political leaders responsible for war, inflicts a death penalty on the Son of God, while a soldier who fully identifies with the Holy Spirit’s perception and knows his oneness with all brothers, can perform his duty, which includes killing, with the Holy Spirit’s love that flows through him. This is possible only by joining with the Holy Spirit in the mind: “He brings forgiving dreams, in which the choice is not who is the murderer and who shall be the victim. In the dreams He brings there is no murder and there is no death” (T.27.VII.14:4,5).

Holy Encounter copy

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 15

ACIM Text Reading for November 15

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

2. The Process of Psychotherapy

2.- IV. The Process of Illness

1. As all therapy is psychotherapy, so all illness is mental illness. It is a judgment on the Son of God, and judgment is a mental activity. Judgment is a decision, made again and again, against creation and its Creator. It is a decision to perceive the universe as you would have created it. It is a decision that truth can lie and must be lies. What, then, can illness be except an expression of sorrow and of guilt? And who could weep but for his innocence?

2. Once God’s Son is seen as guilty, illness becomes inevitable. It has been asked for and will be received. And all who ask for illness have now condemned themselves to seek for remedies that cannot help, because their faith is in the illness and not in salvation. There can be nothing that a change of mind cannot effect, for all external things are only shadows of a decision already made. Change the decision, and how can its shadow be unchanged? Illness can be but guilt’s shadow, grotesque and ugly since it mimics deformity. If a deformity is seen as real, what could its shadow be except deformed?

3. The descent into hell follows step by step in an inevitable course, once the decision that guilt is real has been made. Sickness and death and misery now stalk the earth in unrelenting waves, sometimes together and sometimes in grim succession. Yet all these things, however real they seem, are but illusions. Who could have faith in them once this is realized? And who could not have faith in them until he realizes this? Healing is therapy or correction, and we have said already and will say again, all therapy is psychotherapy. To heal the sick is but to bring this realization to them.

4. The word “cure” has come into disrepute among the more “respectable” therapists of the world, and justly so. For not one of them can cure, and not one of them understands healing.  At worst, they but make the body real in their own minds, and having done so, seek for magic by which to heal the ills with which their minds endow it. How could such a process cure? It is ridiculous from start to finish. Yet having started, it must finish thus. It is as if God were the devil and must be found in evil. How could love be there? And how could sickness cure? Are not these both one question?

5. At best, and the word is perhaps questionable here, the “healers” of the world may recognize the mind as the source of illness. But their error lies in the belief that it can cure itself. This has some merit in a world where “degrees of error” is a meaningful concept. Yet must their cures remain temporary, or another illness rise instead, for death has not been overcome until the meaning of love is understood. And who can understand this without the Word of God, given by Him to the Holy Spirit as His gift to you?

6. Illness of any kind may be defined as the result of a view of the self as weak, vulnerable, evil and endangered, and thus in need of constant defense. Yet if such were really the self, defense would be impossible. Therefore, the defenses sought for must be magical. They must overcome all limits perceived in the self, at the same time making a new self-concept into which the old one cannot return. In a word, error is accepted as real and dealt with by illusions. Truth being brought to illusions, reality now becomes a threat and is perceived as evil. Love becomes feared because reality is love. Thus is the circle closed against the “inroads” of salvation.

7. Illness is therefore a mistake and needs correction. And as we have already emphasized, correction cannot be achieved by first establishing the “rightness” of the mistake and then overlooking it. If illness is real it cannot be overlooked in truth, for to overlook reality is insanity. Yet that is magic’s purpose; to make illusions true through false perception. This cannot heal, for it opposes truth. Perhaps an illusion of health is substituted for a little while, but not for long. Fear cannot long be hidden by illusions, for it is part of them. It will escape and take another form, being the source of all illusions.

8. Sickness is insanity because all sickness is mental illness, and in it there are no degrees. One of the illusions by which sickness is perceived as real is the belief that illness varies in intensity; that the degree of threat differs according to the form it takes. Herein lies the basis of all errors, for all of them are but attempts to compromise by seeing just a little bit of hell. This is a mockery so alien to God that it must be forever inconceivable. But the insane believe it because they are insane.

9. A madman will defend his own illusions because in them he sees his own salvation. Thus, he will attack the one who tries to save him from them, believing that he is attacking him. This curious circle of attack-defense is one of the most difficult problems with which the psychotherapist must deal. In fact, this is his central task; the core of psychotherapy. The therapist is seen as one who is attacking the patient’s most cherished possession; his picture of himself. And since this picture has become the patient’s security as he perceives it, the therapist cannot but be seen as a real source of danger, to be attacked and even killed.

10. The psychotherapist, then, has a tremendous responsibility. He must meet attack without attack, and therefore without defense. It is his task to demonstrate that defenses are not necessary, and that defenselessness is strength. This must be his teaching, if his lesson is to be that sanity is safe. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that the insane believe that sanity is threat. This is the corollary of the “original sin”; the belief that guilt is real and fully justified. It is therefore the psychotherapist’s function to teach that guilt, being unreal, cannot be justified.  But neither is it safe. And thus it must remain unwanted as well as unreal.

11. Salvation’s single doctrine is the goal of all therapy. Relieve the mind of the insane burden of guilt it carries so wearily, and healing is accomplished. The body is not cured. It is merely recognized as what it is. Seen rightly, its purpose can be understood. What is the need for sickness then? Given this single shift, all else will follow. There is no need for complicated change. There is no need for long analyses and wearying discussion and pursuits. The truth is simple, being one for all.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 15

Lesson 319

I came for the salvation of the world.
Here is a thought from which all arrogance has been removed, and only truth remains. For arrogance opposes truth. But when there is no arrogance the truth will come immediately, and fill up the space the ego left unoccupied by lies. Only the ego can be limited, and therefore it must seek for aims which are curtailed and limiting. The ego thinks that what one gains, totality must lose. And yet it is the Will of God I learn that what one gains is given unto all.

Father, Your Will is total. And the goal which stems from it shares its totality. What aim but the salvation of the world could You have given me? And what but this could be the Will my Self has shared with You?

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1186: I would like some clarity around choosing A Course in Miracles as my spiritual path yet devoting time to yoga and meditation. I consider the Course to be my spiritual path with forgiveness being the way out of the dream. However, I also find that practicing yoga, meditation, and chanting are great tools for me to use to focus, increase my awareness, and remember my divinity. I also use yoga as a way to see the body and its energy symbolically, while understanding that it’s not real. I also love my yoga community. Are there any conflicts with this?

A: Many students continue with other practices such as yoga and meditation while they are learning to integrate the principles of A Course in Miracles into their lives. There is no need to discontinue what you find helpful, whether that is yoga, going to a fitness center, meditating, long-distance running, or eating organic foods. Why stop doing something that helps you feel better and function better? Similarly, there is no need to leave a community you feel comfortable in and love so much just because you are a student of the Course.

Our goal as Course students is to become less judgmental and selfish as we go through our day interacting with others — family, friends, groups, co-workers, team mates, etc. This can be practiced in any milieu — forgiveness can be learned and practiced while doing yoga, shopping, or playing golf. The idea is to shift the purpose of all these kinds of activities from achieving bodily results to learning that everything is a classroom in which either the ego or the Holy Spirit is teaching you, depending on your choice (the content in your mind). With the ego as your teacher, you will continually feel special and separate in some way — with interests you do not share with everyone else. With the Holy Spirit or Jesus as your Teacher, you will experience yourself as less and less separate from others, as you realize your interests are not separate from anyone else’s. Form will recede in importance as content ascends and occupies more and more of your attention.

The discussion in our answer to Question #282 might be helpful in shedding further light on this issue.

I Have Nothing Else

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 14

ACIM Text Reading for November 14

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

2. The Process of Psychotherapy

2.- III. The Role of the Psychotherapist

1. The psychotherapist is a leader in the sense that he walks slightly ahead of the patient, and helps him to avoid a few of the pitfalls along the road by seeing them first. Ideally, he is also a follower, for One should walk ahead of him to give him light to see. Without this One, both will merely stumble blindly on to nowhere. It is, however, impossible that this One be wholly absent if the goal is healing. He may, however, not be recognized. And so the little light that can be then accepted is all there is to light the way to truth.

2. Healing is limited by the limitations of the psychotherapist, as it is limited by those of the patient. The aim of the process, therefore, is to transcend these limits. Neither can do this alone, but when they join, the potentiality for transcending all limitations has been given them. Now the extent of their success depends on how much of this potentiality they are willing to use. The willingness may come from either one at the beginning, and as the other shares it, it will grow. Progress becomes a matter of decision; it can reach almost to Heaven or go no further than a step or two from hell.

3. It is quite possible for psychotherapy to seem to fail. It is even possible for the result to look like retrogression. But in the end there must be some success. One asks for help; another hears and tries to answer in the form of help. This is the formula for salvation, and must heal. Divided goals alone can interfere with perfect healing. One wholly egoless therapist could heal the world without a word, merely by being there. No one need see him or talk to him or even know of his existence. His simple Presence is enough to heal.

4. The ideal therapist is one with Christ. But healing is a process, not a fact. The therapist cannot progress without the patient, and the patient cannot be ready to receive the Christ or he could not be sick. In a sense, the egoless psychotherapist is an abstraction that stands at the end of the process of healing, too advanced to believe in sickness and too near to God to keep his feet on earth. Now he can help through those in need of help, for thus he carries out the plan established for salvation. The psychotherapist becomes his patient, working through other patients to express his thoughts as he receives them from the Mind of Christ.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 14

Lesson 318

In me salvation’s means and end are one.

In me, God’s holy Son, are reconciled all parts of Heaven’s plan to save the world. What could conflict, when all the parts have but one purpose and one aim? How could there be a single part that stands alone, or one of more or less importance than the rest? I am the means by which God’s Son is saved, because salvation’s purpose is to find the sinlessness that God has placed in me. I was created as the thing I seek. I am the goal the world is searching for. I am God’s Son, His one eternal Love. I am salvation’s means and end as well.

Let me today, my Father, take the role You offer me in Your request that I accept Atonement for myself. For thus does what is thereby reconciled in me become as surely reconciled to You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #185: If the world that I perceive is not real, does that not mean all who dwell within that world, including myself, are not real, and then would that not also mean that only God is real, and it is God who is having the dream?

A: The first three points of your sequence are correct; the world is not real, everyone in the world is not real, only God is real. What does not follow is that God is having the dream. God is not part of the dream precisely because He is real and a dream is an illusion. “Real” and “illusion” are mutually exclusive. The “missing person” in your equation is the mind of the separated Son who is the dreamer of the dream. This is the you the Course is addressing, and is teaching us to identify with. We have mistakenly identified with the “figure in the dream” — the you you think you are — the you that is not real. This has caused us much confusion. A Course in Miracles’ explanation of how this has happened is that when the mind chooses to believe that separation from God is not only possible but real, it is as if the mind falls asleep and dreams a dream of separation. In this dream, the mind that is dreaming becomes identified with the figure in the dream. Everything is now turned upside down. The world becomes real to us. It is no longer perceived as the dream that it is, and we become lost in its illusions, totally unaware that we are dreaming. This is the power of denial in operation. What is denied is the choice in the mind to separate from God, and then dream this dream where God is absent and can enter not. The identity as dreamer of the dream is denied or forgotten, replaced by an identity as the figure in the dream. This identity crisis is the ego’s goal. It keeps us free of responsibility for the original choice in the mind to separate, and the decision to deny the choice. The goal of the Course is to teach us that we are in fact the dreamer of the dream, whereby we have the ability to become a lucid dreamer, aware that we are dreaming, and that we also have the power to make another choice. If, as a lucid dreamer, we are aware we are dreaming a nightmare of separation that is the source of all our pain, we will eventually realize we can awaken from this dream. The Course tells us: “You have chosen a sleep in which you have had bad dreams, but the sleep is not real and God calls you to awake. There will be nothing left of your dream when you hear Him, because you will awaken. Your dreams contain many of the ego’s symbols and they have confused you. Yet that was only because you were asleep and did not know. When you wake you will see the truth around you and in you, and you will no longer believe in dreams because they will have no reality for you. Yet the Kingdom and all that you have created there will have great reality for you, because they are beautiful and true” (T.6.IV.6:3,4,5,6,7,8).

It may be helpful to relate this to the experience of a child having a dream. His parents are not in the dream, and are unaware that the child is having a nightmare. The nightmare seems real and frightening to the child while he sleeps. It is only when the child awakens that he realizes he was dreaming, and that he is safe in his bed with his parents there to comfort him, assuring him that the dream was not real.

Know Yourself

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 13

ACIM Text Reading for November 13

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

2. The Process of Psychotherapy

2.- II. The Place of Religion in Psychotherapy

1. To be a teacher of God, it is not necessary to be religious or even to believe in God to any recognizable extent. It is necessary, however, to teach forgiveness rather than condemnation. Even in this, complete consistency is not required, for one who had achieved that point could teach salvation completely, within an instant and without a word. Yet he who has learned all things does not need a teacher, and the healed have no need for a therapist.   Relationships are still the temple of the Holy Spirit, and they will be made perfect in time and restored to eternity.

2. Formal religion has no place in psychotherapy, but it also has no real place in religion. In this world, there is an astonishing tendency to join contradictory words into one term without perceiving the contradiction at all. The attempt to formalize religion is so obviously an ego attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable that it hardly requires elaboration here. Religion is experience; psychotherapy is experience. At the highest levels they become one. Neither is truth itself, but both can lead to truth. What can be necessary to find truth, which remains perfectly obvious, but to remove the seeming obstacles to true awareness?

3. No one who learns to forgive can fail to remember God. Forgiveness, then, is all that need be taught, because it is all that need be learned. All blocks to the remembrance of God are forms of unforgiveness, and nothing else. This is never apparent to the patient, and only rarely so to the therapist. The world has marshalled all its forces against this one awareness, for in it lies the ending of the world and all it stands for.

4. Yet it is not the awareness of God that constitutes a reasonable goal for psychotherapy.  This will come when psychotherapy is complete, for where there is forgiveness truth must come. It would be unfair indeed if belief in God were necessary to psychotherapeutic success. Nor is belief in God a really meaningful concept, for God can be but known. Belief implies that unbelief is possible, but knowledge of God has no true opposite. Not to know God is to have no knowledge, and it is to this that all unforgiveness leads. And without knowledge one can have only belief.

5. Different teaching aids appeal to different people. Some forms of religion have nothing to do with God, and some forms of psychotherapy have nothing to do with healing. Yet if pupil and teacher join in sharing one goal, God will enter into their relationship because He has been invited to come in. In the same way, a union of purpose between patient and therapist restores the place of God to ascendance, first through Christ’s vision and then through the memory of God Himself. The process of psychotherapy is the return to sanity. Teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, are all insane or they would not be here. Together they can find a pathway out, for no one will find sanity alone.

6. If healing is an invitation to God to enter into His Kingdom, what difference does it make how the invitation is written? Does the paper matter, or the ink, or the pen? Or is it he who writes that gives the invitation? God comes to those who would restore His world, for they have found the way to call to Him. If any two are joined, He must be there. It does not matter what their purpose is, but they must share it wholly to succeed. It is impossible to share a goal not blessed by Christ, for what is unseen through His eyes is too fragmented to be meaningful.

7. As true religion heals, so must true psychotherapy be religious. But both have many forms, because no good teacher uses one approach to every pupil. On the contrary, he listens patiently to each one, and lets him formulate his own curriculum; not the curriculum’s goal, but how he can best reach the aim it sets for him. Perhaps the teacher does not think of God as part of teaching. Perhaps the psychotherapist does not understand that healing comes from God. They can succeed where many who believe they have found God will fail.

8. What must the teacher do to ensure learning? What must the therapist do to bring healing about? Only one thing; the same requirement salvation asks of everyone. Each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests. Only by doing this is it possible to transcend the narrow boundaries the ego would impose upon the self. Only by doing this can teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, you and I, accept Atonement and learn to give it as it was received.

9. Communion is impossible alone. No one who stands apart can receive Christ’s vision.   It is held out to him, but he cannot hold out his hand to receive it. Let him be still and recognize his brother’s need is his own. And let him then meet his brother’s need as his and see that they are met as one, for such they are. What is religion but an aid in helping him to see that this is so? And what is psychotherapy except a help in just this same direction? It is the goal that makes these processes the same, for they are one in purpose and must thus be one in means.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 13

Lesson 317

I follow in the way appointed me.

I have a special place to fill; a role for me alone. Salvation waits until I take this part as what I choose to do. Until I make this choice, I am the slave of time and human destiny. But when I willingly and gladly go the way my Father’s plan appointed me to go, then will I recognize salvation is already here, already given all my brothers and already mine as well.

Father, Your way is what I choose today. Where it would lead me do I choose to go; what it would have me do I choose to do. Your way is certain, and the end secure. The memory of You awaits me there. And all my sorrows end in Your embrace, which You have promised to Your Son, who thought mistakenly that he had wandered from the sure protection of Your loving Arms.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #61: I’m studying special relationships at the moment and I am wondering — if person ‘A’ feels anger, resentment, hate, etc., towards person ‘B’, is person ‘B’ likely to learn these feelings as part of himself, and feeling them, does he project them back onto person ‘A’ in either a passive or aggressive way? So now person ‘B’ would then see these same traits or similar ones in person ‘A’. If this is so, is this now a circle of destruction? And if person ‘B’ doesn’t project them back onto person ‘A’, is person ‘B’ (if he believes them to be true) likely to project them onto his own body? If he does, can this manifest through illness? Can illness then be a form of attack on both ourselves and on those with whom we are involved in special relationships?

A: Despite what our experience in the world seems to tell us, none of us has the power to cause anyone else to feel guilty or hated or attacked. These perceptions of ourselves are inherent in our own experience whenever we choose to identify with the ego, which seems to be our “natural” state until we remember otherwise. So no one else teaches those perceptions to us, no matter how they may act toward us — we have learned them on our own (the basic condition of the ego). That is because the ego thought system is predicated on the belief in our own sin and guilt, which we then try to protect ourselves from by projecting outside of ourselves onto others. The only effect we can have on others is to remind them of what is already present within their own mind. So I can be a reminder to you of your own sin, guilt and fear when I choose the ego as my teacher, or I can be a reminder of the love and forgiveness that are present in both of us when I choose the Holy Spirit as my teacher. But you first make your own choice as to which thought system you will identify with and then my choice can only reinforce the choice you have already made. But if you have made the choice for the ego and I have remembered the Holy Spirit, then I can serve as a reminder to you that there is another choice present in your mind as well.

Early in the text, Jesus explains that “when you project… [on]to others you imprison them, but only to the extent to which you reinforce errors they have already made. This [their errors] makes them vulnerable to the distortion of others, since their own perception of themselves is distorted” (T.1.III.5:9,10). So in that sense, we do set up a vicious cycle of attack and counterattack with each other — the “circle of destruction” as you call it — that reinforces the perception of guilt in ourselves and each other.

But again, the origin of the guilt and its ramifications in my own mind never comes from anyone or anything in the world outside of myself, but only from my own decision. In fact, the only purpose of the world and all the figures in it is to serve as a smokescreen to hide that fact from us. And so then it appears that indeed others are the cause of my concept of myself (T.31.V.5).

As for the second part of your question, the guilt over separation in my own mind — which I have chosen — is intolerable and must be projected so that I see it as yours rather than my own. And I can project it either by a direct attack on you with whom I have a special relationship or by an attack on my own body, expressed as some form of illness. And yes, the latter represents an attack not only on myself, but on you as well, as Jesus graphically describes in “The Picture of Crucifixion” (T.27.I) — “A sick and suffering you but represents your brother’s guilt; the witness that you send lest he forget the injuries he gave, from which you swear he never will escape. This sick and sorry picture you accept, if only it can serve to punish him” (T.27.I.4:3,4).

How do we break out of the seemingly endless circle of attack and counterattack? The solution has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with a change in our perception of ourselves, within our own mind, with the help of the Holy Spirit. We have to recognize that the sin and guilt we have made real in our own mind as an attack upon ourselves by our belief that we could separate from God has never really happened. As the Course says, “You will never realize the utter uselessness of attack except by recognizing that your attack on yourself has no effects. For others do react to attack if they perceive it, and if you are trying to attack them you will be unable to avoid interpreting this as reinforcement. The only place you can cancel out all reinforcement is in yourself. For you are always the first point of your attack, and if this has never been, it has no consequences” (T.12.V.3; italics added).

***

Q #142: I have been a keen student of A Course in Miracles for a good 12 years and find it the most appropriate spiritual path for me. Thinking of Jesus and his teachings has become a part of my life, a way of consciously forgiving myself and thus of course others as well. I also accept fully that all pain is some form of unforgiveness (“Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness” [W.pI.193.4:1]). Now regardless of my practice, which is almost on a continual and absolutely unforced basis, parallel to whatever else I may be occupied with, various aches and pains and other ailments do occur at a level which makes me question the efficacy of my practice — my only choice then remaining the same old magic, usually a pain killer. Even ardently repeating a maxim like “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me” [W.pI.rVI.3:3,4,5] during an attack seems quite ineffective. Is it basically still a very fearful subconscious that is at the bottom of this, or is it the ego taking me for a ride and having me believe that I have forgiven myself more than I really have?

A: You’re trying so very hard, but you also want to be gentle and patient with yourself. It would be helpful not to try to evaluate your progress based on any feedback you feel your body is giving you. Aches and pains always reveal unhealed areas in the mind, and in that sense it is helpful to pay attention to them, but not as a yardstick against which to judge how well you are practicing forgiveness and whether you are passing or failing the Course.

Yes, there is still fear, as well as guilt, buried in your subconscious mind, and yes, your ego will always want to fool you about your progress, but also your lack of progress (T.18.V.1:5,6). All of that is to be expected while you still identify yourself as the body which has the name you answer to. For seeing yourself as a body means you still believe that the separation and its accompanying guilt are real and you still believe you need a defense against that guilt, which is the purpose the body serves. The pain, apparently in the body, is intended to distract you from its real source in the mind. So if you are willing to make the connection back to the mind and see the cause — unforgiveness — that is all you really need do.

If there is a pain killer that seems to be helpful in relieving your pain, by all means continue to use it. So what if it is not the ultimate healing? Know that Jesus is not judging you for what you may see as your weakness and inability to forgive completely. Taking medication is a gentler and more loving way of dealing with your pain than trying to persuade yourself that the pain is not real by using words from the Course as affirmations to shout down the ego and cover over what you still believe about yourself — that you are a body. It will always be more helpful simply to get in touch with what you still believe and why, knowing, as you suggest, that it is only fear that holds you in those beliefs. By acknowledging and looking at the fear, you will be doing your part in its healing.

For a further consideration of issues related to the questions you raise, you may wish to look at Question #128.

sunburst eternity

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 12

ACIM Text Reading for November 12

Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice

2. The Process of Psychotherapy

 I. The Limits on Psychotherapy

1. Yet the ideal outcome is rarely achieved. Therapy begins with the realization that healing is of the mind, and in psychotherapy those have come together who already believe this.
It may be they will not get much further, for no one learns beyond his own readiness. Yet levels of readiness change, and when therapist or patient has reached the next one, there will be a relationship held out to them that meets the changing need. Perhaps they will come together again and advance in the same relationship, making it holier. Or perhaps each of them will enter into another commitment. Be assured of this; each will progress. Retrogression is temporary.
The overall direction is one of progress toward the truth.

2. Psychotherapy itself cannot be creative. This is one of the errors which the ego fosters; that it is capable of true change, and therefore of true creativity. When we speak of “the saving illusion” or “the final dream,” this is not what we mean, but here is the ego’s last defense.

“Resistance” is its way of looking at things; its interpretation of progress and growth. These interpretations will be wrong of necessity, because they are delusional. The changes the ego seeks to make are not really changes. They are but deeper shadows, or perhaps different cloud patterns. Yet what is made of nothingness cannot be called new or different. Illusions are illusions; truth is truth.

3. Resistance as defined here can be characteristic of a therapist as well as of a patient.

Either way, it sets a limit on psychotherapy because it restricts its aims. Nor can the Holy Spirit fight against the intrusions of the ego on the therapeutic process. But He will wait, and His patience is infinite. His goal is wholly undivided always. Whatever resolutions patient and therapist reach in connection with their own divergent goals, they cannot become completely reconciled as one until they join with His. Only then is all conflict over, for only then can there be certainty.

4. Ideally, psychotherapy is a series of holy encounters in which brothers meet to bless each other and to receive the peace of God. And this will one day come to pass for every “patient” on the face of this earth, for who except a patient could possibly have come here? The therapist is only a somewhat more specialized teacher of God. He learns through teaching, and the more advanced he is the more he teaches and the more he learns. But whatever stage he is in, there are patients who need him just that way. They cannot take more than he can give for now. Yet both will find sanity at last.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 12

Lesson 316

All gifts I give my brothers are my own.
As every gift my brothers give is mine, so every gift I give belongs to me. Each one allows a past mistake to go, and leave no shadow on the holy mind my Father loves. His grace is given me in every gift a brother has received throughout all time, and past all time as well. My treasure house is full, and angels watch its open doors that not one gift is lost, and only more are added. Let me come to where my treasures are, and enter in where I am truly welcome and at home, among the gifts that God has given me.

Father, I would accept Your gifts today. I do not recognize them. Yet I trust that You Who gave them will provide the means by which I can behold them, see their worth, and cherish only them as what I want.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q # 948: I have been in a troubled love relationship for five years. Sometimes when we’re in conflict, I accept what is being mirrored back to me as my own lack and wrong mindedness, and I feel at peace. At other times, I feel resentment toward my partner and envy other couples that I perceive as having more of a joint vision. A Course in Miracles teaches not to seek outside yourself and not to try and find another relationship that my ego would like better. Soon we will be seeing a counselor to help us with our issues. I know that the objective for the counselor will be to help us create more ego-based congruence. So how do I do this and stay true to the teaching of the Course? And if my goal is ego-based anyway, why not just find another relationship with someone who is more compatible with me?

A: A Course in Miracles is a guide that helps us shift from the ego to the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. It is not a guide to behavior. Thus, staying true to the teaching of the Course is solely a matter of what goes on in your mind. From the perspective of the Course, then, going to see a counselor for help with your issues is no more right or wrong than drinking water when you feel thirsty. The water is not healing. But it would be neither loving nor helpful to deny your body the liquid it requires to function and feel healthy. Similarly, counseling may not heal your mind. But if it can help alleviate your mental anguish, then it would be silly not to partake in it. In addition, all of our physical and psychological issues are, in reality, barriers we created to keep the Love of God out of our mind. Therefore, taking whatever actions will lessen their effects can be a helpful first step toward ultimately remembering God’s Love.

In the pamphlet Psychotherapy: Purpose, Practice and Procedure , Jesus states that “It is in the instant that the therapist forgets to judge the patient that healing occurs” (p.3.II.6.1). Clearly, Jesus is not opposed to therapy. Moreover, we could replace the words therapist and patient with any two people who have a relationship. Healing occurs when we do not judge another — or ourselves. Thus, from Jesus’ perspective, whether you stay or leave a specific partner is irrelevant. What matters is how you stay or leave. This is why the Course urges us to ask the Holy Spirit for help questioning the purpose of all our thoughts and actions. The Holy Spirit knows that though they wear a million disguises, there are only two purposes we can have. We are always either projecting guilt or extending love. The Holy Spirit will always let us see which one we are doing.

Happily, He is an internal Therapist Who will always forget to judge us. So, if we hold His Hand, everything we do will become a healing classroom in forgiveness. Filled with His forgiveness and Love, you will recognize that neither you nor your partner is guilty — you are both simply afraid of love. It might be helpful for the two of you to work on this issue together, or it might be better to do it apart. But whether you stay together or break up, you will do so with a gentle kindness — a kindness that wants only what is best for both of you.

For a related discussion about special relationships, please see Question #701 What does the course say about leaving a relationship?.

sun of god guiltless

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for November 11

ACIM Text Reading for November 11

from Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice
2. The Process of Psychotherapy- Introduction

1. Psychotherapy is a process that changes the view of the self. At best this “new” self is a more beneficent self-concept, but psychotherapy can hardly be expected to establish reality. That is not its function. If it can make way for reality, it has achieved its ultimate success. Its whole function, in the end, is to help the patient deal with one fundamental error; the belief that anger brings him something he really wants, and that by justifying attack he is protecting himself. To whatever extent he comes to realize that this is an error, to that extent is he truly saved.

2. Patients do not enter the therapeutic relationship with this goal in mind. On the contrary, such concepts mean little to them, or they would not need help. Their aim is to be able to retain their self-concept exactly as it is, but without the suffering that it entails. Their whole equilibrium rests on the insane belief that this is possible. And because to the sane mind it is so clearly impossible, what they seek is magic. In illusions the impossible is easily accomplished, but only at the cost of making illusions true. The patient has already paid this price. Now he wants a “better” illusion.

3. At the beginning, then, the patient’s goal and the therapist’s are at variance. The therapist as well as the patient may cherish false self-concepts, but their respective perceptions of “improvement” still must differ. The patient hopes to learn how to get the changes he wants without changing his self-concept to any significant extent. He hopes, in fact, to stabilize it sufficiently to include within it the magical powers he seeks in psychotherapy. He wants to make the vulnerable invulnerable and the finite limitless. The self he sees is his god, and he seeks only to serve it better.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 11

Lesson 315

All gifts my brothers give belong to me.

Each day a thousand treasures come to me with every passing moment. I am blessed with gifts throughout the day, in value far beyond all things of which I can conceive. A brother smiles upon another, and my heart is gladdened. Someone speaks a word of gratitude or mercy, and my mind receives this gift and takes it as its own. And everyone who finds the way to God becomes my savior, pointing out the way to me, and giving me his certainty that what he learned is surely mine as well.

I thank You, Father, for the many gifts that come to me today and every day from every Son of God. My brothers are unlimited in all their gifts to me. Now may I offer them my thankfulness, that gratitude to them may lead me on to my Creator and His memory.

4. Regardless of how sincere the therapist himself may be, he must want to change the patient’s self-concept in some way that he believes is real. The task of therapy is one of reconciling these differences. Hopefully, both will learn to give up their original goals, for it is only in relationships that salvation can be found. At the beginning, it is inevitable that patients and therapists alike accept unrealistic goals not completely free of magical overtones. They are finally given up in the minds of both.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1240: I am increasingly having problems with obsessive-compulsive hoarding disorder as I age. I’m currently 61 years of age. Are there any teachings in A Course in Miracles that can help me better understand the roots of my problem?

A: Our experience of ourselves as real individuals in a physical world means that we have identified with the ego thought system in our minds. That in turn means that in the core of our being there is a sense of lack, accompanied by searing pain that we are compelled to defend against. The source of this is the self-accusation — also deeply buried in our minds — that we got to be who we are as individuals by separating from our Source, thereby rejecting our Identity as Christ in favor of an autonomous, special existence that we thought would give us what we judged we could not get as part of God. As a result of this rejection of our true Identity and our true home, we would have to feel that there is something seriously wrong internally — a lack of enormous proportions. The pain of this is made worse by the overwhelming guilt we experience over having judged what we did as unforgivably sinful, intensified even more by the fear of punishment and retaliation by God Who will surely one day take back the existence we wrongfully acquired (the ego’s version of God, of course).

Now, all of this pain and anguish in our minds must be dealt with. And following the ego’s advice on how to handle it, we project it out of our minds onto our bodies and the world in any number of ways. This ontological level of lack then is expressed on the bodily level as neediness, insecurity, cravings, addictions, and general feelings of never having enough — just some of the forms this content in our minds could take. We form special relationships with whatever we find externally that helps us feel better and takes some of the pain away. The need to hoard could certainly reflect the mind’s insecurity about its fragile existence — fragile in the sense that it really rests on nothing, since our separation from God is illusory. Thus, hoarding and accumulating things would be one of the ways we attempt to compensate for our internal feelings of scarcity. In this sense, it would be no different from any other special relationship.

Finally, it would not be antithetical to the Course to look at the more personal aspects that may also be involved in this disorder, and therefore working with a therapist could be quite helpful in uncovering this layer of causes. This would then free you to work at the deeper levels in your mind, releasing more of the interferences to your remembrance of the love in which you were created and forever remain.

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